PROCEEDINGS HELD AT
16 APRIL 1997
[PAGES 1 - 79]
I N D E X
NO ITEM PAGE N°
1. Introduction................................................... 1 - 2
2. Bettina Mdlalose and Thandi Mdlalose.................. 3 - 19
3. Lindiwe Francisca Zulu.................................... 20 - 27
4. Announcements.............................................. 28 - 30
5. Prince Blessing Muali...................................... 31 - 43
6. Bernadine Nkosiyeswe Mwelase......................... 44 - 58
7. Jeconiah Mahlobu and Christina Mahlobo.............. 59 - 79
CHAIRPERSON: We welcome all of you this morning, especially those who have come to listen to what will be said. We do trust and hope that amongst them there are families who are coming to present their stories in front of the Commission, and we do welcome each and every one of you, and we do appreciate the effort that you are giving to the witnesses in terms of support.
It's our wish and desire that everybody in this hall should listen to what we will say, and we have the headphones. This is what I am lifting up to you now. For things to be conducted orderly we would request the ones who have the headphones to listen properly to the instructions. There are channels, and there is channel two for English, there is channel three for Zulu. As you may realise for Zulu you won't be using channel three, it will come to the floor. For Sotho, for those who are Sotho-speaking, we have four for them, channel four. Channel four is for Sotho. Those are the only languages we have for you today.
One other thing about these headphones, for those who are already having some, please do not take these earphones with. They should remain in the hall. They are useless outside this hall. Now, we do request the audience to leave these behind.
Without much waste of time and without much ado - we are expecting quite a number of witnesses today - we will get started. Some haven't arrived, but we will however get started. We have briefers amongst us. We have Mums, Thandwa and Nomusa. They are standing right now, so please do contact them for any other thing.
Before we get started I would like to introduce the
members of the panel with me up front. On my right-hand side we have Mr Ilan Lax. Mr Ilan Lax is the committee member of the Human Rights Violation Committee. He is a lawyer or an attorney by profession. This is Ilan Lax. On my left-hand side I do have Mr Mdu Dlamini, who is a member of this committee by the name of Human Rights Violation. He resides in Durban. He is fairly known in Durban, and also in the Church of John Wesley. The one who is currently talking to you is Mrs Gcabashe, and also from this Human Rights Violation Committee. I am a member of that committee, and I do trust and hope that now we may get started, and first call upon the witness stand Mr - no, it's not Mr, it's Ms Bettina Mdlalose. They will escort you up to the witness stand.
CHAIRPERSON: It looks to me as though you are two there. Who is Bettina Mdlalose?
MS MDLALOSE: I am.
CHAIRPERSON: Who is with you?
MS MDLALOSE: That's my youngest daughter.
CHAIRPERSON: Is the daughter going to say anything today, or what?
MS MDLALOSE: No, we will assist each other.
CHAIRPERSON: Now that you are going to be assisting each other I would kindly request - well, first of all I shall thank you for the audacity of coming in front here in spite of what you have gone through, the atrocities, and today you are coming to disclose and ventilate in front of this Commission, and that will enlighten us as a Commission to know as to what transpired and happened. I will now ask Ms Bettina to kindly stand up so she may be sworn in.
BETTINA MDLALOSE and THANDI MDLALOSE (Sworn, State)
CHAIRPERSON: Amongst us here the one who will be leading your evidence will be Mr Dlamini. Now I hand over to Mr Dlamini. Mr Dlamini, over to you.
MR DLAMINI: Thank you, Chairlady. Good morning, Mrs Mdlalose and Miss Mdlalose. --- Yes, how are you?
As the Chairlady has already welcome you I do wish to welcome you as well. I do know that you come to this Commission with such a sad story, but the Commission would like to know. Please lay your story on the table now. We will assist you by way of asking questions as to remind you what you have written in your statement, and also try to clarify things that are not clear. Now, please be
free. This is not a court of law, it's just a place where you want to come and ventilate your truth. Maybe I should ask first how is the situation at home, or perhaps your family structure? Do you still have your husband? --- No, he is since deceased.
Amongst your children, not Simon's children but your children, how many are still alive? --- I have three girls who are still alive.
What are they doing? --- One girl is working.
And the others? --- The one right next to me is the last one and is not working. One other is married, the eldest one. One other died on the Sunday of this new year, of the New Year's Day. He was sick.
Thank you for giving us your family structure. Please lay to the Commission now Simon's family structure, your son that was killed. Was Simon married at the time of his untimely death? --- No, he had children - or he had a child, but he wasn't married.
How old is the child? --- You mean the one who died?
I mean Simon's child. How old is Simon's child? --- He or she is seven years old.
Where is the mother of this child you are talking about? --- There she is. I think my Mum is confused here. He had three children. I mean Simon's children were three. The first-born is with us here, is amongst the audience. He is 17 years old, or he will turn 17 this year, and the second one is a girl, and was born in 1981, and the third one I assume is four years old.
Did the child die at four years? --- No, all the children are still alive.
You mean the last one is the four-year-old? --- Yes.
About the boy, what is the 17-year-old doing? --- He is at school.
On what standard is he? --- He is in standard five.
About the girl who was born in 1991. --- The girl is in standard four, and the last one is at the nursery or the creche.
Were these children born of one woman, or perhaps different mothers? --- They have different mothers.
Are they with their respective mothers? --- Yes.
Are the mothers working? --- Yes, they are, but the last one is not working. The others, the two other ones, are teachers.
Thank you for enlisting help to the old lady. Please do that quite often. At the time when Simon died according to the records, our records, he was 29 years old. According to our records he was born in 1961. Do you agree with that? --- Yes, we do.
That means in 1990 he was 29 years old. Does this correspond with what you have there? --- Yes.
The old lady, according to our records, she is in 1930. --- No, she is 1934. Something was wrong with her ID, however she is a 1934, not a 1930, but according to the ID it's 1930.
Now, something was written wrong then. Let's go according to the Home Affairs records. Now, we will go according to what the ID tells us. Do you earn pension fund? --- Yes.
Besides that pension fund who supports you? ---
No one does.
Thank you very much for enlightening to the Commission as for the family structure. I will now request let's get to the issue on the 19th April 1990 when the police came to your home. Tell the Commission exactly as to what happened on that day. --- The police arrived at night at about 12 midnight. They knocked at the door and I asked, "Who are you?" They said they were police. I opened the door. One came in and was looking for a boy who was attending school. Now, that's my daughter's son. My son already had changed rooms immediately. Now they started looking, searching for him. They could not find him. They went outside and they asked me to open one of the rooms outside, and I told - I asked them why should I open. And the police left. Two other police came. Well, they went outside to get one white police, and they were almost breaking the door open, and they shot instantly right in the bedroom.
Go on. --- They left and I went in the room. I found out that they had already shot him. I tried to see if there were any signs of vitality and to no avail. They came back again and said, "This one is dead, and leave him just like that." And the neighbours came, and the police told the neighbours to go back and leave this family alone. They called the police to take pictures of the corpse I suppose. They came and they shot, they took pictures, and asked, "What happened to this boy, for he was working at Checkers?" and they were laughing. And the police asked, "Why are you laughing?" And they called the funeral undertaker to come and get the corpse. Even today the door is still in that condition.
Take your time. We know it's a sad story, and we know you have forgotten some of the things. (Pause) As soon as you have regained composure you may go on ahead. Now the daughter is taking over. --- I will ask to say what I witnessed.
No, let's leave the old lady to complete her version, and after that you will take over. We understand what she is going through so we will take our time. --- They took him, and the following day we went to town, and we were told that he was taken to Durban so the bullets could be extracted. It was on Thursday when this transpired. We were told that he was in Durban, and the following week he was taken back here in Vryheid after the bullets were extracted.
May you go on ahead. --- We were all over waiting for him to get back from Durban. He was buried on Sunday after his return from Durban.
Were any things done during the funeral? --- Yes. We were disturbed quite a lot by the police, because they came and gave us instructions that there shouldn't be many people attending the funeral, only a certain number. When we got back from the graveyard on that day they threw tear gas all around, dismissing the crowd. And also in the bus some were injured, sustained injuries.
Is there anything that happened on that day of the funeral, or perhaps even after the funeral? --- After that the captain came.
Please lift up your voice. You are not audible enough. May you be audible. --- The captain came and told me that the case will be carried in Pietermaritzburg, but he never came back to date, and as a result I don't
even know how far the case went. I had never heard a thing.
Ma'am, according to your statement there are attorneys in Durban who were enlisting help to you, who were handling this matter. --- Yes, I also went to Durban quite a number of times to those attorneys.
What did they say to you about the verdict, I mean about the whole thing? --- No, they never said a thing. All the time we've been there we would not find any of the attorneys.
Now, when was the last time you spoke to the very attorneys? --- It's quite some time. When last did we speak to them? It's quite some time. I think around 1992 or '93. I am not too sure.
Around '92-'93 that was the last time you went to see the attorneys? Since then you've never got in touch with them, and the same they also did not get in touch with you. --- We will get messages saying there's a - the case will be conducted in Pietermaritzburg, and we were not supported in any way, financially and otherwise. We will just get the message that there will be a case, and no one took time to even come to fetch us or something.
Maybe I should ask you to add, or perhaps lay your version of the whole story, especially the things that we ought to know as a Commission. --- On the 19th my brother was off that day. At night the police knocked.
I am sorry, Lady, please just add on, just add to what the old lady has already said, don't repeat the same story again. --- The police who knocked were two, and we told them that my brother is with the girlfriend in the
bedroom, and they went straight to the bedroom and started insulting him, and said, "Open the door. After all you are not married. You are such a common known Comrade." I had a baby then, and I had the baby on my back. I went outside. As he was refusing to open the door the very two black police went to call another white police, and told the police that - the white police that he is refusing to open the door, and the white police kicked the door open and the girl ran and flee. Suddenly the other police said, "Shoot him," and he was shot instantly, and died on the spot. Upon his death ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 1) ... and the police were called, and they came and carried on their duties.
Go on. Is there anything, old lady, that has omitted? --- On that day of the funeral we were given instructions by the police that we're not supposed to be over a certain number, or perhaps certain families, certain amount of families should attend the funeral, and there were tear gas that were thrown, and some people who attended the funeral sustained injuries.
Those who came to support you, to grieve with you on that day, where were they coming from? --- The majority was coming from Newcastle and Pietermaritzburg.
One thing that I forgot to ask when I was asking about your family structure, about the late your brother. Was he - where was he working? Was he working? --- On that day he was off.
But was he employed at all? Was he employed? Was he employed? --- Yes, he was. He was employed and working for Checkers Bakery, Checkers Bakery right here in Vryheid.
Is there any money that was received from the employers after his death? --- Yes, for the children there was money that was allocated for them.
Thank you. You said at the time when the police came home your brother had a girl with. What was the name of the girl? --- The name of the girl was Patha.
What is the surname? --- Ntshangase.
Where is Patha now? --- Patha is in Vryheid.
At the time when the police were shooting your brother what was happening? Was your brother resisting arrest or something? --- Before the door was burst opened there was an altercation, an altercation between my brother and the police before they kicked opened, because for the door to be kicked opened they went to call the other white police. But even before the white police came there was an altercation between my brother and the police when they were arguing.
Patha, what about Patha? Patha was in the room? --- Yes, Patha was in the room at that time.
Is there anyone who was around, or perhaps in the room at that very hour, who may be a witness as to what happened? --- We also discovered after some time when he was shot, because the boy that they were looking for was there. He may be the one who could shed more light.
What is his name, the boy that they were looking for? --- His name is Nkosinathi.
Where is Nkosinathi now? --- I wouldn't know if he is here.
I mean where does he reside? --- He is my sister's son, so we come from one family.
That means any time we want to get hold of him
that's possible. --- Let me backtrack. According to Nkosinathi, Nkosinathi was the one they were hunting for regarding the police that died. This is a hearsay. We had heard that there was something that was happening in Bhekizulu City Hall, and this police was keeping guard outside the hall, and Nkosinathi was one - they alleged that Nkosinathi was one of those who were throwing stones to the police, attacking the police.
Now, tell me about these boys. The boys who were implicated in this case, where were they from? What was happening? What drew them to that scene? --- They were called Comrades at the time, those boys, around the time of 1990. It was a group of youths with ages ranging around 16.
Was there a Comrades meeting? What was happening? Enlighten us. --- I wouldn't know exactly, but there was something going on, and there was this police keeping guard.
Was that police belonging to the SAP or perhaps a security guard? What kind of a police was he? --- He was not coming from the SAP, but was referred to as third force. Special constables, not SAP. That was the kind of a police he was.
Now, the police that came home were ZPs or SAP? --- They were SAP.
Lady, before I hand you back - thank you very much to the girl for helping us. Let me come back to the old lady before I hand you back to the chairlady. Have you noticed that your health has been affected since this incident? Have you also noticed that there are times when you remember your son and you burst in tears? Also have
you noticed you at times drink a lot in an effort to try - trying to forget this thing? --- Yes.
We do feel for you, and we are very sorry about what happened to you. Maybe I should ask if there's any help or medical attention that you get? Perhaps do you have sessions with the psychologist, pschyiatrist or so? Do you get any help from such? --- No, nothing.
One thing that touched me is the fact that you are not over what happened to you yet, and I do understand, but please forgive me, I'll have to ask this question, because one of the intention or aims of this Commission is to give opportunity to the people to open up and tell the honest truth, especially that in the past because of the Government of the day people were not given opportunities to lay their stories. This is why today we have people who are taking statements so you may tell the community at large of South Africa about what happened, and things that emanated out of that. This is why we have this day today, so we may listen to people like you. But one other thing that's an objective of this Commission is that after we have ventilated about the atrocities that were committed to us is that we should reconcile as the community of South Africa at large. The perpetrators, those who committed those atrocities to you, killed your son, according to our records haven't come forth for amnesty, or perhaps sending us to you for forgiveness. But one question I would like to ask is that, if today those perpetrators could come forth and say, "Commission, because you exist today, we would like to go and meet Mrs Mdlalose to ask for forgiveness," would you be prepared to meet with the perpetrators? I know they
haven't come forward, they have not even admitted an application for amnesty, but still we would like to ask from you, to get a view from you that if they come to you and ask for forgiveness would you be prepared to sit down with them, shake hands with them, and reconcile with them? Would you be prepared to talk to them? --- I don't think I will allow such an opportunity.
Thanks. Thank you for responding, because you just told us what you feel from inside. But do not feel bad, but when they get in touch with us it's our duty that we should get in touch with you. Thank you, Lady, I will hand over to the Chairlady.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr Dlamini, and we would like to thank you as well. Before we get done with you I would like to ask from you, and perhaps ask Mr Lax if he has something to say, or a question to ask.
MR LAX: Mrs Mdlalose, there's one aspect that's puzzling me slightly. The Zulu's on channel three. Can you hear me now? Thank you. --- Yes, I can hear you.
The one aspect that had me a little bit puzzled is you spoke about the children of your late son, and you said that the one child is four years old. I'm a bit puzzled how that's possible. Was he four years old at the time your son died, or is he four years old now? --- The lady was expectant, three months pregnant, at the time of his death.
(Inaudible) ... six or seven, not four, because he died in 1990. I just needed to clear that up. --- I think it's just an assumption that I made because he is this old.
Thank you. Just one other aspect please,
Chairperson. Which lawyers did you see in Durban? Do you remember who they were? --- It's Attorney Mlaba.
You never heard anything from them? You didn't receive letters or anything? --- He used to send people telling us about the case, and at the time we will not even have money. At times we will receive telephone calls.
Did you ever get a letter from them saying the case was heard on a certain day, this was the outcome, and so on? --- The person who was active at that time was Johan Mnyeni. He was the one who was forever getting in touch with the attorney.
Where is Mr Mnyeni now? --- He has an office here in town. I don't know whereabouts down-town.
(Inaudible) ... a lawyer, or is he ... (incomplete) --- No, he is just a worker, or he is self-employed.
(Inaudible) ... go back to this tragic day, and you've said that the police first came, they looked for Simon, they asked where he was, and they were directed to the room where he was. --- No, the police were not looking for Simon, were looking for Mfana. They were searching using torches, and only find that Simon's bedroom or room was locked, and they asked why was that room locked, and we told them that it's because he has his girlfriend with. And they asked to open - they asked Simon to open the door, and he didn't want to open the door, and they started having altercations right then.
Just for the interpreter's sake, the word altercation means a fight, a physical fight. You keep using that word altercation. What they had was an argument. Just so that you're now using the right
INTERPRETER: Oh, they were having an argument, not an altercation as such. --- They insisted that he should open the door because he wasn't married anyway.
MR LAX: Now, I just want to try and see what you can remember of the crucial time when he was actually shot. Were you actually there present yourself? --- I couldn't come close, but I was standing by in the kitchen watching the whole thing. There were two police who went to call the other white policeman outside, and they told him that he doesn't want to open the door, and the white policeman came and kicked the door open. When he kicked the door one girl ran away, got out from the room and ran. These other police suddenly said, "Shoot him," and they did just that.
(Inaudible) ... time passed between the time that they kicked the door in and the time they shot as far as you can remember? --- The door was locked, and they kicked it and it got opened, and there was such a loud noise soon after that. We heard the black policemen saying, "Shoot him," and suddenly he was shot right then. This took place within a short period of time.
Who actually did the shooting? Which of the policemen? --- It was the white policeman who shot.
Now, you spoke about them looking for Mfana. --- Yes.
Is that Nkosinathi? Is that the same person? --- Yes, that's the same person. It was the uncle who was killed.
What is Nkosinathi's surname? --- Mdlalose is the surname.
Did they arrest Nkosinathi at that time? --- Yes. After that he got out from under the bed and was taken into the van, and in the van there were a lot of other youths.
(Inaudible) ... Nkosinathi. --- He was locked in the van and they started calling other police to come.
(Inaudible) ... after this in the next while was he - how long was he arrested for, and so on? --- Yes, he was arrested. This happened on Thursday night. He was arrested Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. On Monday I went to rescue him and he was released on Monday.
(Inaudible) ... released? At what place? --- Right here in Vryheid.
(Inaudible) ... court, was it at the police station? --- It was the police station.
(Inaudible) ... pay bail for him? --- Yes, I paid bail for him.
And did he go to court after that? --- They were all discharged. They were released. They were never arrested.
INTERPRETER: The speaker is not coherent at all.
MR LAX: (Inaudible) ... find out was there a case for which they were arrested, and were they charged, and what happened? --- That group of those boys we paid bail for this one, and the case went on until it just ended in the air. That case of the policeman just ended like that. We don't know the verdict.
Do you know did Nkosinathi have to pay a fine, or did he go to gaol for that case, or was he just acquitted? --- My mum paid bail for him, R100,00.
We will try and find out. It's clear you're not
sure what happened. Just one last question, Chairperson. Just one last question please. These so-called Comrades which you refer to, what was their political affiliation? --- They were ANC members.
(Inaudible) ... the late Simon. --- He was within ANC organisation.
Sorry, there's just one more question that's occurred to me, Chairperson. Did the police find any weapons in Simon's room? --- Anybody has weapons in their place, but I wouldn't know as to what kind of weapons he had, or if he had at all weapons, because he wasn't given an opportunity - or perhaps he didn't have an opportunity to fight back.
(Inaudible) ... ask you is you were present when they were there, when they took the body out. They must have searched the room. --- When they fetched the corpse Mfana got out, and when Mfana was getting out they searched under the bed, only to find that there was an axe that was forever there.
(Inaudible) --- That is correct.
MR DLAMINI: Chairperson, sorry, I had indicated that I was returning to you. I have one question that I forgot to ask. According to your statement you have noted that some of the police who were at home that day when Simon was shot, Mr Pius Buthelezi, Mr Mbuyiseni Mthethwa. Are they still police? --- Yes, they are.
Do you ever see them? --- Yes, both of them.
Are they still police both of them? --- Yes.
Do they reside here in Vryheid? --- We reside in this new location and they reside on the other old location.
Which one is the old location? --- No, right here there's a new location, and the old one was there for quite some time, from long back.
No, we just wanted to establish if they are still police, and thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. One question I would like to ask you. What is your grandchild doing? Is he working? --- No, he isn't working. He gets part-time jobs.
According to you since that time when his uncle was shot what would you say? Do you think that affected him a great deal as a person? --- You know, after they kicked the door open Nkosinathi was taken to the van, and they came back to assault the uncle.
Now still Nkosinathi - I am still referring to Nkosinathi. Was he affected, psychologically so, or does he suffer, or does he exhibit signs of being - of not being stable? --- He is okay. He is fine. He went up to form five with his high school studies.
And after that he could not go on? --- No, he could not further his studies after that.
One last thing I would like to know. You have admittedly said that they were at the hall. Now, tell us about the community. How was the situation? Was it stable or unstable? --- I don't know.
I am just referring to those days. Those days how was the situation in the community? --- It wasn't stable at Bhekizulu, the community of Bhekizulu. There was no stability at all.
Before then was there anything that happened or something? --- No, there wasn't.
Thank you, Miss Bettina and Thandi for coming
forward and sharing the story with us. We know that at the time of this incident there were things that happened, people were shot, some sustained injuries, and even during the funeral people will get hurt. Also it is known that the police were not taking these things to task, and you wouldn't know how far things go inasfar as the police were concerned. Now, this is a part we really feel bad about, however we do thank you for coming forth and sharing this story. And this is one way that will help the community, and even the police, to realise that things like this and atrocities like these should not go on at all.
We have briefers here with us who are helping, and the one seated right next to you will take you and lead you to other people who will give you help, and you will be helped. And thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We will call our next witness, and her name is Lindiwe Francisca Zulu.
One other important thing that we would like to announce here, or to tell the public, is that there are people within ourselves here who were - who suffered a lot of things, and we would like to tell you that there's a green curtain there, and there are people who are statement-takers. So anyone who would like to go to see them and give their statements will go and see those people. They are behind that green curtain, and your statements will be taken there. We will keep on taking the people to go there. We thank you a lot, and we can realise now that there are people who are willing to go there and give their statements. Thank you.
I would like to greet you, Miss Lindiwe. Before you can start relating your story to us I would like you to stand up and swear.
LINDIWE FRANCISCA ZULU (Sworn, States)
CHAIRPERSON: Miss Lindiwe, I would like to notify you that I will be the one who will be leading you, helping you to give your evidence. But first of all I would like you to tell us about your background, family background, if you have parents? --- Yes, I do have a mother. My father died when I was still young. And I also have a child who was born in 1981, the 12th of June. He's a boy. 1981, June 12.
Do you have brothers and sisters? --- Yes, I do have a sister and two brothers.
What is your sister doing? --- They are all not working.
How old is your sister? --- I am not certain about their ages.
Is she still at school? --- No, they are finished.
You also said you have two brothers. How old is your brother? --- They are all old. I am the last-born. They aren't working all of them. No, I don't know their ages all of them.
You said you were the fourth-born, the last one. --- My brother, and then my other brother, and then my sister, and I am the last one. They are all not working.
In other words you are four? --- Yes, two boys and two girls. I am the last-born. I am working at Dundee Provincial Hospital.
What is your duty? --- I am a nurse.
Is your mother getting pension? --- Yes, she is, she is a pensioner.
Besides the pension is there any other grants or something else she is receiving? --- No.
In other words your mother is receiving pension and you're also working, you are helping them? --- No, I am not married, but I do own my own house. My son is 16 years old.
Is he still at school? --- Yes, he is in standard seven.
Now, we would like you to relate your story to us, what happened to you in June 1986. --- In 1986 June I was working, and I was from college. I was working at the police. I was a wardress. I was working with Mr Sipho Zulu, who is also staying at Sibongile location, at 766 Sibongile location in Dundee.
You were working with him? --- Yes. As we were working with Sipho my duties were just to guard the female prisoners, and he was supposed to cook for female prisoners and male prisoners. Basically these were people who were still on trial, not prisoners. I asked them that I needed to go for training, and they kept on promising me that they will send me to college. And then I left that job, I went home and I stayed home. I applied for a job in nursing, and I waited for the nursing college to reply me. I didn't go to the police station to receive my salary, and while I was staying at home Mr Mathonzi - they used to call him Drops - he came together with many white policemen. They told me that I should appear in court. At that time we were fighting, or we were boycotting rents. As we were boycotting for not to pay rent we said we didn't want to pay rent, and Mr Drops Mathonzi came, together with white policemen. And when I asked them why I was supposed to appear in court they said to me I must come to fetch my pay, or my salary rather. Initially they didn't find me at home, they found my mother, and they told my mother that I should come to the police station to fetch my salary. And the next day my mother told me, and she said I am supposed to go and fetch my salary. So I was happy. I took my mother with, we went to the police station, and when we arrived there everything changed and they told me that I was a suspect that I burnt Mr Sipho Zulu's house. And I asked them when, and the police took me to Mr Joubert, who was a police at Dundee Police Station. Mr Joubert called Flying Squad CIDs from Newcastle, and they arrived, they took me. My mother asked them, she wanted to come with me. They refused.
They took me to Newcastle Police Station. When we arrived at the police station police interrogated me, and they told me I was going to tell the truth. Mr Gama was one of the policemen. And when I asked them what was it in connection with they told me I burnt someone's house. I asked them I didn't have any idea about these things. They took me to Newcastle Prison. I arrived there and I stayed there for a long time. They took me again and they interrogated me, and they discovered that I didn't know a thing about whatever they were asking me about, burning someone's house. Later on we were taken from Newcastle to Utrecht, Utrecht Prison. There we never rested because those white policemen kept on interrogating us, and in winter they would take us outside and make us stand for sunbathing for 30 minutes. We were taken again from Utrecht back to Newcastle. After days we were taken back to Newcastle Police Station. I asked them that they should call Mr Gama. I asked Mr Gama why I was in custody, and then he said to me I am a suspect that I burnt someone's house, and then I asked him, "Am I a suspect or someone witnessed me burning someone's house?" And I told them to call Mr Zulu. And then they said, "Did you have a fight with Mr Zulu?" I told them no, I never had a fight. The only thing that happened between me and Mr Zulu is that I refused to cook because he was supposed to cook. They released me from Newcastle Police Station. I went back home. I was released in March. I am not certain about the date, but it was in 1989. I was arrested in June 1986. I was arrested in June 1986. I am sorry, I made a mistake. I was released in 1987 March. In 1987 November, when I was home, I heard that people who
burnt the house were arrested. People who burnt Mr Zulu's house were arrested, and those people were Thokozani Mthembu, Comrade Tororo Kayenda. It was Comrade Thokozani Mthembu, Tororo Kayenda, and Comrade Mbuyiseni Duze. It was in November 1987. I am not certain about the date. Those were the people who were accused of burning Mr Zulu's house after I was arrested and stayed in custody for nothing. One other thing. I left my son for nothing, and he was still young. Up until today there's no attachment between me and my son. Even though I try to do things for him he doesn't accept me. And I would like to know if is this the truth that someone can be arrested and put in custody for nothing?
How old is your son? --- He is 16 years.
In your statement you related that you were tortured. Can you please explain to us what exactly they did to you besides making you stand outside in the sun? --- In Newcastle it was in winter. They made us lie down on the floor in winter, and they used a mat. Utrecht I slept for three months on the floor.
Besides that is there other things that you've seen as torture? --- Yes, a lot of things.
What else? --- Police who were trained as police - you can't take anyone to be a police, you have to train someone to be a police. These people interrogated me, and they've realised that I was telling the truth, but after that they kept on harassing me. Like Mr Joubert from Dundee Police Station, he sent me to Newcastle Police Station knowing very well that I didn't know a thing.
This Mr Gama, was he also a police? --- Yes, he was a CID or Flying Squad from Newcastle. Gama used to
ask me nicely. His questions were okay. I don't want to lie about that.
You also said in your statement that your son and yourself you lack an attachment because you were separated while he was still young. --- My young is not calling me Mum, but he is calling my mother Mum. Whenever he needs something he goes to my mother and asks my mother to come and ask from me. And even when I tell my son that, "I am your mother, you're supposed to ask to me," he is telling me that he depends on my mum rather than on me. I took a subsidy house so that I tried to console my son, for him to feel at home. He was five years when I was arrested.
And you're telling us up until today from that time there's no attachment? --- No. We are like siblings, not like a mother and a son.
How is he behaving? --- Before he was naughty, and ... (intervention)
How naughty? --- He wouldn't listen to me. Even if I tell him that he must come back home at about seven he wouldn't listen to me, he'll come at eight maybe.
How is he at school? --- He is okay. He is intelligent.
Did you try to go and see psychologist? As a nurse you will have this background. You and your son. --- No. I don't want to lie, I never tried that.
What about reverends or pastors? --- No, no counselling at all.
What about you, how do you feel? Are you still the same Lindiwe as you were before, or this experience affected you a lot? --- Yes, it affected me. I used
to be a kind woman, but now I am very cruel and unkind.
You never tried to go for counselling, see psychologist? --- No, I didn't.
What about your mother, what is she saying when she realised that your son is doing this? --- No, my mother is trying her best to show my son that I am his mother, and sometimes my mother will tell my son to come to me to ask for things.
When you were arrested you were never taken to court, there was no trial, or what? --- That's why I am here before the Commission, because I was just arrested and put in custody, but I was never taken to court. I would like the Commission to find out. Thokozani Mthembu, Tororo, those were the people who went to court.
Were they charged? --- Yes, they were charged, but they were discharged. Yes, they are still alive, and if you need to contact them you can.
Do you have their address or their addresses? --- No, I don't, but Thokozani is coming forward shortly.
We heard that you've been harassed for something that you don't know. One other thing I have forgotten to ask, did you receive your salary? --- Yes, I did receive my salary when I was in police station in Newcastle.
That's okay. I would give my colleagues a chance if they have questions to ask you.
MR LAX: Sorry, just one question please. You were never charged, so under what law were you actually detained? Do you know? --- Under state of emergency.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. What happened to you
was a usual thing that will happen to most people in South Africa in those days. People were arrested not knowing what they did, and that's why we as a Commission we are happy when we get people like you coming forward to relate to us things like this. As you have told us that you and your son are having problems, the lady who is next to you will help you, giving you contact for counsellors and psychologists. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We would like to find out if there are any witnesses who have just arrived to render their testimony? We will adjourn, have a short adjournment for tea. What we would like to say here is that if there are any who have already given statements, and knowing that they want to come forward to give the testimony to the Commission, they shouldn't fear anything. But as long as they know that they were to come forward to give the testimony in front of the Commission I would like Mrs Msomi to meet with them. All those who knew that they are to come forward to render their testimonies today, we would like to meet with Mrs Msomi. And as we'll adjourn for tea we'll take a short adjournment. for 15 minutes, from five to 11 to 10 past 11.
One other thing that I would like to announce to you is that tea only has been prepared for the witnesses and their families. We do, however, apologise that some of you who are present here we could not provide tea or refreshments for you as well. I would like Mrs Msomi to show the witnesses and their families where they will have refreshments, and some others may just go and bask in the sun outside. Maybe we shall stand up now in respect of the witnesses as they leave the hall.
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe we should announce this, that we do have the statement-takers with us here, and all those who will wish to give their statements, and knowing very well that they have been tortured, should go around the building next to the green curtain. That's where they
will sit and await for the statement-takers so they may render their statement. All those who would like to render their statements, there is a statement-taker with us today, so kindly go to the left.
And we would like to put it to you that if there is anyone who would like to have these things, the headphones, there is English in channel two, there is Sotho in channel four, and there is Zulu coming to the floor. Thank you.
And those who have just arrived, and who will have to give their testimonies today in front of the Commission, please get in touch with Sithandwa Msomi so we may insert you in the programme. And we do trust and hope that those who haven't arrived, they will arrive in due time.
Somebody is talking from the audience, and it is not audible enough, so we will not interpret that.
The names that I will call now, if they are by any chance present here please get in touch with Sithandwa Msomi, the ones that I will announce their names right now. Constance Mbutho, Samuel Mbatha, Vusimuzi Duze, Michael Sihlako, Selby Nene and Mpilondle Khanyile. I'll repeat, Constance Mbutho, Samuel Mbatha, Vusimuzi Duze, Michael Sihlako, Selby Nene, Mpilondle Khanyile. If they have arrived please do contact Mrs Msomi right here in front. Thank you.
We are about to resume now. We will kindly ask Prince Blessing Muali to come forward to the witness stand.
Before we go on we have an announcement here. Those who would like to listen to Sotho please let us see you,
because we will only have Sotho when there is a witness
relating his story in Sotho. If there is anyone speak Sotho, or who needs Sotho, please get in touch with Mrs Msomi, then we will make arrangements for Sotho. If there is anyone who will come to render his or her testimony in Sotho please do mention that you would like to have Sotho, listen to Sotho and speak in Sotho. Thanks.
CHAIRPERSON: I would like to greet you, Prince. You are with someone there. Is she going to relate the story?
MR MUALI: No, she is not. She is my wife.
CHAIRPERSON: What's her name?
MR MUALI: Her name is Thabusile.
CHAIRPERSON: So she is your wife?
MR MUALI: Yes, she is my wife.
CHAIRPERSON: We would like to thank Thabusile for her support. We would like you to tell us more - or first of all to stand up and swear.
PRINCE BLESSING MUALI (Sworn, States)
CHAIRPERSON: The person is going to help you in leading your evidence will be Mr Ilan Lax.
MR LAX: Good morning, Mr Muali. Thank you again for coming. Before we proceed to your story we would just like to get a few of your family details and so on from you. We are pleased to see you have your wife here to support you. Please tell us a little bit about your family. --- The one next to me is my wife, and we have two children. The first one is 13 years old, the second one is five years old.
What are their names and genders please? --- The first one is a boy and his name is Sibonelo.
The second one? --- The second one is - her name is Gugu.
Do you have your parents? --- I do have a mother, and my father is late.
(Inaudible) ... us of your own family. Did you have brothers and sisters? --- Yes, I do.
Just briefly, how many brothers and how many
sisters? --- I have one brother and I have seven sisters.
Now, the story that you're going to tell us about took place during 1990. --- That is correct.
It is quite a well known story, and it made the newspapers and so. It is quite a tragic set of events that happened during that time at Hlobane Colliery, which is near to Vryheid. --- That is correct.
Please tell us what you can remember in as far as it affected you. Perhaps you could start with a brief background of how you understand what happened there, and then move on to what actually happened to you personally. --- I worked in Hlobane from 1986. That's when I first joined the mine. When I arrived there there was a union called NUM. After some few months working there employees were killed. After they were killed it was after a meeting which took place in Durban, and the union was disrupted, and the whites or boers who were there were racist. Then I went and I talked to the elderly people who were the Zulus and I tried to talk to them as to enlighten me about their views. This started in 1987 after the union had been dismantled, and I realised that we should fix something, or we should have another union. So in 1988 I started recruiting employees. I did this without anyone's knowledge, and I didn't want management to find out about this. I started going to the elderly people, recruiting them, and I realised that this union had now many members, so I went to the offices because I realised that I was succeeding.
(Inaudible) ... were you recruiting for? --- This was the NUM. I got forms, I recruited a lot of
employees. In 1989 whites or boers started realising that something wasn't going right, because they realised that employees were now taking up their grievances. Most of them used to come to me and complain about the boers, and I would take their matter forward. And in June 1990 I called a meeting and I told employees that we should talk about the idea or the rumour that there's going to be employees who are going to be dismissed. And then there was a rumour again that I was supposed to be killed because I was the one who was causing havoc in Hlobane. I wasn't scared because I had the support from employees. In August I realised that boers didn't like the idea that there was a union, and boers suggested that Xhosa-speaking people were supposed to be killed, because Xhosa-speaking employees were the ones who were causing havoc or who were the members of the NUM. I told the employees to be brave. Some employees resigned because of this situation. I reported the matter to Cyril, who was still a general secretary. He held a meeting with the Iscor people in Pretoria. He had some talks with Mr Howard, and they were writing each other letters, which I still have today. And they said they were supposed to search the mine because there were weapons in the mine, because these weapons arrived there because boers gave them these weapons. Even though it was a secret, but we came to know about those weapons. Boers denied this. And then later we realised that the boers were the ones who were making us against each other. They succeeded, because there was a belief at the end that the quarrel or the fight was between the Xhosa-speaking and the Zulu-speaking people. There was a game in June 15 or 16, if I am not mistaken. When I came
back from Newcastle, from the meeting with the union, I came to know that people were about to fight, but some employees told me that no, it was nothing, it was just words. In October I was about to go to bed at about 10 o'clock. I heard one guy calling my wife, asking her where I was, and my wife said, "He is around." And then he said did I hear that people have smashed windows, and then I said to him, "No, I haven't heard." And then I woke up and I dressed up, and I took my wife to hospital, where she was working. I saw a group of people coming towards me so I ran into the bush. I tried to hide myself against the trees. I saw a group of people who were with someone who hated me, and I knew that this guy had targeted me. I saw him among this group of people. After they left I continued going ahead through the bush. Again I met another group of people, and this time they saw me, and one of them said, "Who is this one?" And I answered him back, I said, "It's Prince." And then they said to me, "Prince, go ahead, because there are people who are coming to abduct you." I knew the situation, and I knew that the boers had people whom they were using, that they wanted actually us to fight the Zulus and the Xhosas or the Sothos. I went on. It was quite a distance. I went straight ahead to the police station. When I arrived there I found out there were Zulus and the Sothos and the Xhosas as well at the police station. That's when I asked the people what was going on, and then they said to me, "We don't know. We were being waked up with weapons or spears." I couldn't find anyone to talk to. We slept at the police station, and then they told us to give our names. If you were Xhosa you were supposed to give your
name in a Xhosa list, and if you were Zulu you were supposed to give your name in a Zulu list. The next morning I called the union people or members, and I explained to them that people have died and this is what had happened, and at the end I discovered that plus or minus 17 people were killed, and people who were injured were plus or minus seven. Then I realised that there was no other way to follow this case carefully, because people who were supposed to give me more information on these things were people who were actually involved in these killings. As time goes on I realised that I couldn't get any assistance from anyone. Later on, as I was trying to pursue this, because I knew as well that there was no one who was going to stand for these people who were killed, and there was no one who was going to stand for the orphans or the widows. I was the one who knew the situation inside, and I was the one who was responsible for the safety of the employees, but I couldn't get any assistance from anyone. And later I wrote a letter to Madiba, and Madiba took my letter to Mr Mafumadi, Minister of Safety and Security, and Mr Mafumadi took the letter to the National Commissioner, and he also forwarded the letter to Natal. I tried not to get the situation out of hand, and the commissioner from Natal, when I met him - if I am not mistaken I think his name is Mr Gerber - he told me that he can't find other letters from the Attorney-General's office. But what he told me is that the Attorney-General declined to prosecute, therefore he can't get the files of this case. Therefore the situation was just left like that. And I am certain that the boers were supporting this situation, and they also lied that
employees resigned because there was no procedure or formal procedures which were followed as to resignations. We just gave our names as Zulus and Xhosas, and what happened after that is that they gave us money after that and they told us that at least we resigned. If your name appeared on that list it meant you resigned. Later when we were in town on the 16th one boer came to us. We were a group of Xhosas and Zulus, and this boer came from labour control after he was reported by someone who was working at labour department that we were at the post office. And they came to us and they told us that we can resign or we can take a leave without pay, but that leave was not more than 21 days. I took 21 unpaid leave days. And then later we argued, me and this boer, because I asked him why were we fighting inside the mine. We argued, we didn't get along well. No one resigned at that time. I tried to get hold with group of 10. These were the people who were chosen. I went to Mr Ngcube, because I knew him that he was a secretary or a chairperson,a nd I tried to talk with him. And even though he was known as someone notorious, but I tried to talk to him. He made some arrangements that I should go back to the time, and a certain meeting was called and I kept on contacting him through telephone. He told me I should come to the office in No 1 office. This was the salary office or salary department. We talked together with someone from labour department, and I went and met the employees, and they said, "We are surprised that you wanted us to kill this young boy. We know this young boy very well. We are surprised because this young boy used to help us." And then I tried to report to the mine
management. This was before the 21 days were finished which I took for unpaid leave. This happened when I was going to their offices. The boers were laughing at my face and I didn't know why. And Mr Ntshangase told me that some people have resigned. When I tried to follow this I discovered that also my name was among the people who resigned. When I tried to find out how this happened they didn't explain to me. I went to see the PRO office person and I tried to talk to him, and he told me that there's nothing that he can talk with me, I must go and see my supervisor because he's the one who refused to approve my leave.
(Inaudible) ... you're going into a great deal of detail about your dismissal at the mine, and I wonder if we could just deal with what actually happened in the end. From what I understand at the end of the day you were in essence dismissed. They said you had resigned from your job, is that right? --- That is correct.
And you took this matter to the Labour Court as far as I'm aware. --- That is correct.
What happened there? What was the outcome? --- (Incomplete - start of Side B, Tape 3) ... were not fair. The Judge told me that I wasn't supposed to run away because I am not Xhosa. The Zulus were killing the Xhosas. That's what the Judge told me. I wasn't supposed to run away. Now, I am telling myself that I'll be a lawyer for myself. I am still waiting for a date because I have also applied for appeal. I also wrote for a condonation file papers. This will be heard in Pietermaritzburg.
(Inaudible) --- That is correct. I am still
waiting for Mr Martin from 'Maritzburg, because he's the one who is going to tell me the response. They are still waiting.
That's Mr Potgieter you're talking about. --- That is correct, Mr Potgieter.
I want to just take you back a little bit to the time when this incident happened where the people were killed. What you have described to us is a very confused picture. Not in the sense that you are confused, but in the sense that there was confusion on that mine. You describe a situation where people are running away, and not quite sure what's going on, and the gist - these stories of other people attacking them. Who was attacking who on that mine? --- I can't say who was attacking who because no one knew who were asleep. I was also from the hostel in that night. No one knew who was attacking who, but what surprised me is that when I arrived at the Industrial Court the boers who were there for the Iscor they said Zulus were attacking Xhosas. Yes, this was partly true, because some people were known. I knew one guy whom I went to - when I went back to the mine he said I was supposed to be killed. The one who was a police, and who was told by some other people that I was supposed to be killed, he stopped the van, the police van, and he put me inside the police van, at the back of the police van, and he told me that my mother wanted to see me. But I had this picture with me that you can't trust a police, but what I heard is that I should get inside this van, this police van, because there were other people at the back of the van.
You yourself weren't actually injured that night, is
that correct? --- No, I wasn't stabbed, I just got a fraction in my leg, and I went to see Dr Nel and he gave me 10 days' leave after I told him I can't go back to the mine.
(Inaudible) ... I didn't hear the translation very well. What happened to your leg? --- As I was running I got inside the hall, so I got a fraction on my leg, my leg was swollen.
(Inaudible) ... a break, and this wasn't a break? --- That is correct.
You said that you were told you could either resign or take 21 days' unpaid leave. --- That is correct. Mr van Rooyen told us that the management gave us three options, that one, if you want to resign you can resign, and if you want to take an unpaid days you can take those unpaid days, but it mustn't be more than 21, and if you want to take a 10 days you can.
Was that 10 days' paid leave? --- (Inaudible) And the 10 days? --- There were three options - 10 days to resign, and 10 days unpaid days, and 21 days unpaid days. I came back before my 21 days' leave was finished, because I also asked him if I can do that. He said yes, I can.
(Inaudible) ... why would you - why did they want you to take this leave? What was the purpose of that? --- The boers realised that the situation was too tense, and then they found us at the post office, Mr van Rooyen, and he told us these three options that we were given by the management. So I chose the 21 unpaid days' leave because I thought when I came back the situation will be calm. People were dying, so we were scared. People from
Nquthu were killed, and they were carrying spears in front of the police. People from Mondlo, people from Dundee, the same happened. Nondweni people were killed, were killed by the people from Hlobane. Sometimes early in the morning on Saturdays you will see them carrying spears, walking around with them in town. When I went to Mondlo I saw other people who were working at Hlobane, and the ZP Police were accompanying them to go and kill. At that time I had no position or no place for me to sleep because I was scared.
Sorry, Mr Muali, when you say "at that time," what year was that? --- This was in 1990, but this started in 1986.
(Inaudible) ... understand is this incident you're talking about with police accompanying workers, when did that happen in terms of your story? Before the massacre, after the massacre? --- It was after the massacre, weeks after the massacre in Hlobane, because this happened in Hlobane for weeks, not just for one day. People were being killed inside and outside the mine.
I want to just go back and look at this. The people that were killed, you said there were 17 people as far as you can remember. Was there ever an inquest into their death? --- That's what I want to know, if there was an inquest, because if there was an inquest who was the investigator, and how he conducted his investigation? And then again going back to the mine management and ask what did they do, knowing very well that there were people who had weapons inside the mine? And then again police, what did they do, how they investigated this? And again go back to the Attorney-General. If he received the
statements from the police or from anyone what did he do? I never came to know if the investigations were conducted properly, because if it was I would have known. We know today that, for example, at Hlobahlobane people were attacked and there are investigations being conducted. I still want to know who killed the employees and what happened.
Do you remember, of these 17 people that died, what were their affiliations? Were they union members, were they a particular ethnic group? --- I can't say that they were Xhosas or Zulus, because some Xhosas died and some Zulus also got injured. The only people I found in the police station who were injured were the Zulus. I can't remember very well that from those people who died whether they were Xhosas all of them, because I never got to know their names. Because the situation was so bad that I couldn't find this information. I still want to know who were those people who died, how were they killed. Were they shot, were they stabbed? I remember one guy, Mr Malayishe, and even today his house was burnt. Securities and the police who were there they said he was stabbed by someone, and then a group of people burnt his house, and then they said when he tried to escape one guy stabbed him using a spear. And then his wife as well was stabbed - or rather he was beaten by a spear, not stabbed. When I went to the mortuary, I went to Avbob mortuary, it wasn't easy for me to see or to recognise them because their bodies was bad and I couldn't look at their bodies very well.
Do you know whether the union tried to investigate this incident at all? --- The saddest thing is that
when all these things happened people from Newcastle who were in charge for this, and they had more information about this, they left their offices. They left the NUM as members. That's why today I am here. I would like to ask the Commission to investigate this issue. I am telling the whole country that there is such an issue. I gave the ITU people statements. I think it was in 19 - I am not certain about the year, but I think it was in 1993. They came to me and they told me that they were being sent by their offices, and I gave them the statement, but up until today I got no response from them. I tried to contact everyone who can help. My telephone was suspended because I was making a lot of calls. Three people came, and they were driving a Government car, so I gave them the statements because I trusted that they were going to investigate, but up until today they never came back to me.
Mr Muali, we will do our best to try and track down these records. We will speak to the Attorney-General's staff, we will speak to the ITU staff, and too go through the court records here. We will try and give you an answer to the best of our ability. --- I will be very happy.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. There is no other question. Thank you very much, Blessing Muali, and we would like to thank you a lot that you've shown as a brave man, and you do care about other people. You've shown this in your statement, and you also mention that you were worried about widows and orphans. You put your life on the line for this. You also tried and investigate more so that you can find the truth, or so that you can try and make it
right. You tried a lot of things, and even today it shows that you came here because you also aren't satisfied about this whole issue. As Mr Lax has said that we, as the Commission, we will try and investigate as to what actually happened about this case. We will also like to investigate and found out what happened. Again I would like to thank you for being the way you are, for caring for other people, and I wish that you become like that for the rest of your life. We need people like you. We need more people like you who will stand for the truth, people who won't be scared to lose their life for a just country. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: As we are still waiting to call upon the next witness to the witness stand we've just found out now that amongst us there is the Mayor of Vryheid. Now, we will ask the Mayor to stand up, Mr Mtshali. We know that Mayors are quite committed, but he has given himself time to be with us today and listen to what the people have to say, and the grief they want to put forward to the Commission. If there are any people with the Mayor, or perhaps distinguished guests that we would like to know, please kindly stand up so we may see you. If there are leaders or distinguished guests please stand up. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We call upon the next witness, who will be Bernadine Nkosiyeswe Mwelase.
MACHINE SWITCHED OFF
(Incomplete - start of Side B, Tape 2) ... who was getting married.
Right now with whom are you staying? --- I have a kid, a son of 17 years old. His name is Nthuthuko.
How old is Nthuthuko? --- He is 17 years old. He just visited me last month.
Is he at school? --- Yes, he is at school. He is in standard seven. And who comes after Nthuthuko is Thandeka. She is 14 years old.
Is Thandeka at school? --- Yes.
INTERPRETER: The interpreter could not get that.
MR DLAMINI: May you please repeat your question. The interpreter could not get what you just said, and I also wasn't ... (incomplete) --- Nthuthuko is residing with his mother in Gabini.
Who comes after Nthuthuko is Thandeka, who is 14 years old, a girl.
We were talking about Thandeka. --- I won't make mention of these other ... (incomplete)
INTERPRETER: The interpreter still could not get that. MR DLAMINI: Please let us be quiet. We have to listen to the speaker, and the speaker won't be audible enough if there's noise. --- I have kids in East London. They don't even know their surnames. In Pretoria I have kids as well. I have kids almost every province.
Thank you very much, Mr Mwelase. I thought - I just wanted you to give us a picture of your family. --- My /mum has
mum has part-time jobs and is on pension fund.
With whom are you residing? --- I am staying with my mum at some apartment.
Mr Mwelase, thank you very much for the picture you
have just painted to us. Please relate to this Commission about your arrest. Maybe take us back to 1983, when you were in Botswana. Why were you in Botswana? What were you doing in Botswana up to the time when you were arrested? I will keep interrupting each time you say something. --- I was a police at Leeukop prison in Johannesburg.
Were you a police at Leeukop? Were you a prison warder or were you ... (incomplete) --- Yes.
Yes, I thought so. He was a prison warder. ---Maybe I should speak Zulu.
No, we wanted to be cleared there. --- It so happened that I got leave and I came to Vryheid, at home. When I got home at my brother-in-law, at my sister's home, I saw this man who was coming to rape my niece. There is Ntshangase, who was a sergeant in Vryheid.
Because we have so many witnesses we would like to listen to other witnesses as well. Please be direct, don't beat about the bush, and just mention facts. Why were you in Botswana? --- I wasn't politically minded. I just went to Botswana to see if I could have any green pastures. I tried to be a citizen and I was refused to be a Botswana citizen. I left the country on the 22nd - on the 21st. On the 22nd I was already in Botswana. I was alone, I did not have any person with me. The second time I got there and I was arrested. I was interrogated there in Botswana because I had my ID, police ID. I said I
wanted asylum, political asylum, but I could not get that.
Were you arrested becauSe you were in Botswana without permission? --- No, I rendered myself to the police. After that they said perhaps I should join ANC at
Lobatse. There were prisoners in Lobatse who were telling me that I should join the ANC. You know, it's good to be an ANC member, I may even get abroad. And PAC is starving. I cannot afford to be affiliated with such organisations. Who wants to be affiliated with such organisations that are starving?
How long were you in Botswana? --- There was a petrol bomb, or there was a bomb that blasted in Pretoria. I was in Botswana then. I went to Zambia then.
At the time were you already a member of ANC? --- I was already a member then. That was the ANC mission.
You went to Zambia? --- No, I went to Zimbabwe first. I via-ed Zimbabwe, Harare, and then to Zambia. Oh, I went right up to Zambia and Lusaka. That's where I was now. I was with Skeem, a certain boy, who was a Xhosa - and he also knew Sotho by the way, the very same guy. He was old now.
Now tell me, you are a full member? --- No, I also went to Tanzania as an MK by the way.
Where did the police arrest you? --- The police got hold of me right here, and I already had weapons, guns, rifles, as an MK member. Right here around Stillwater, that's where they found me.
Now, does that mean or suggest that you left Botswana to Lusaka, from there you went to Angola? --- From Angola I went to Germany, and I via-ed Congo. Oh, I went to Nigeria as well. I am so well travelled. I went
to Italy as well - East Germany, in Berlin, right inside there.
Now, tell us about your training as an MK. Where did you receive your training? --- I received my
training in Angola. That was the basic training. Maybe I should mention that. That was in 1983, and we had Eastern Front that erupted. Chris Hani took me to Germany, or arranged for me to go to Germany.
When you were coming back to South Africa what was your intention, or rather your aim? --- My aim was to fight the Government of the day. I was on a mission of onslaught. You know, when I got here in Natal people were just in slumber, they didn't know things.
Now, you came back to South Africa and you were sent by the MK leaders to terrorise - to mobilise and train the units. Did you get any opportunity to do that, or you were arrested even before you tried? --- Oh, there was a spy, a traitor, who came by and all my mission fell apart.
Let me be cleared here. You say even before your mission could be accomplished you got arrested because there was this traitor who spied on you? --- I already had followers, disciples even then.
At Skippers Neck where you were arrested what were you doing? --- I was there with my uncle, as my uncle was principal at a certain school, and my uncle died. And I was still at school then. My aunt was a teacher there. Now she is in Mondlo. This boy came as I was trying to open my bottle, my beer. You know, in those days we were still using tin openers. And they said, "No, just wind it. You won't have to use tin opener, you can just wind
this lid." When the boy came there I suspected he's the one who was a traitor because he - his name was Jabulani Ndlovu. He is at Natal University in Pietermaritzburg.
Jabulani who? --- Jabulani Ndlovu.
Is he the one that you suspect was a traitor? --- No, that's what I suspected at the time, because we were both arrested and he had to lose his job as well. He was a teacher.
Let's leave Jabulani alone as you say it was a mistake, he wasn't the suspect. Tell us now about your arrest. How were you arrested? Explain. --- He was a teacher at Nondweni, at Nquthu. He was teaching at Nondweni. He lost his job because of me, and that was attributed to me. I was a police then, and it was alleged that I was - oh, I was buying him clothes and stuff, supporting him.
Now, let's be direct about your arrest, because you claim you were arrested and you were harassed in various ways. Now, explain to the Commission. --- Now, he followed me to Skippers, to this place. They were searching for me in the location, left, right and centre. There was a brother, my brother, who came to Lakeside, the coloured suburb.
Who were the police that arrested you? --- It was Ngobese. He is on pension now. He had a shop at Mondlo. Those that tortured me I will tell you.
It was Mr Ngobese and who else? --- They will say, "Where is Jacob's farm?" and they were asking where my uncle was teaching, as to where is the farm, and I will say, "No, I am just coming from the party." They arrested me, and I was arrested by the Flying Squad.
You were arrested by the Flying Squad from which police station? --- Right here, right from next to Checkers here in Vryheid Police Station by Beares.
They took you to ... (incomplete) --- It was a
convoy. I tell you there were more than 20 vehicles. They took me to Vryheid, to the house, where I was undressed and naked, tortured there.
Who was assaulting you? --- They had covered my eyes, I could not see. I knew of a guy called Getshwayo and Mfilisa, Mfilisa Mazibuko. I don't know if he'll kill me maybe by mentioning of his name.
Amongst the things, inter alia, that they did to you, what else was done to you? --- They arrested my mum.
How long was your mum arrested. --- They took me to Driefontein, and when I was taken to prison I saw my mum, and my mum was right there, and I could see - they tried to close the door even before I could see her, but it was late. There was my cousin as well who was arrested, and Jabu, who was my brother and a teacher, and Maseru, who had given me the mine weapons, bombs, because I was intending to cause havoc here.
After they had arrested you they took you to Driefontein Police Station. --- No, I just spent days here in this house. They will take turns torturing me. I could not sleep. They will sleep and take a break, but I was forever and continuously tortured. It was a black and a white. Mdletshe and the other he has just mentioned were even better. They gave me a better treatment. Mdletshe and the colleague would even grant me some time to rest, because I could just fall any minute. I was
tired, I wasn't getting some sleep at all. And naked by the way.
You've made mention of Mdletshe, that he was kind to you. --- Mdletshe - and Warren Gunn is a white man,
Warren Gunn. Mdletshe is a black man. They were treating me kindly. He didn't interrogate me.
I may have to say that we did contact Mr Mdletshe. --- He did not torture me in any way.
And Mazibuko as well. --- Mazibuko tortured me, and Mazibuko claims that he did not torture, but Mazibuko is telling a lie. He tortured me and called my mum a witch.
What other things did he commit to you, Mazibuko? --- He will slap me, and I now have a dislocation on my left cheek. I think the gums. I am a goalkeeper, by the way, and ... (intervention)
Mr Mwelase, I am getting lost now. You are talking about soccer now. I thought we were talking about ... (intervention) --- Oh, I was trying to explain to you my dislocation. He will hold me this way, and slap me so hard on my left-hand cheek. Right now I can't speak properly because I have this dislocation. He assaulted me more than everybody.
We have noted that. --- And one white man could not give me water when I asked for water. He took a stone and - he gave me water with so much salt. How could one drink such water?
After that what happened? --- I was in Driefontein after that.
What were you doing in Driefontein? --- I was in the cell.
Were you charged? What charges against you? ---(Inaudible)
Who were those people who came? --- Nkala from Kandla, and Jeff, the one they are mentioning with
de Kock, together with de Kock.
What did they say to you? --- They promised me nice things.
The things that they promised to you that were so nice, why were they promising those? --- They promised me that if I will be an askari then I will have a house, and also sell my organisation. I said yes to them because my mum and my family were not treated well, were not in a good state. You will think that - when we talk infiltration you will think that I am your brother, and yet I am the direct opposite.
Where were you working, or where were you sent to? --- I was sent to Vlakplaas. That was my base. De Kock was a major then, before he was a colonel. I was arrested in 1988, January 8. I got back to South Africa round the 11th or 10th December 1987.
When were you an askari? --- It was '88 around June. I don't remember quite well, but I was there for three months. I was arrested on February 8. Around June 1988 I was an askari.
Where did you work? Was it Vlakplaas only, or were you sent to some also places? --- No, I was travelling all around South Africa. I was in East London. There is a farm that I know. They talk about Vlakplaas only, but you have to know other farms as well. There are two others here in Durban, right here in KwaZulu-Natal.
Which ones are the farms in KwaZulu-Natal? Which
farms are those? --- I don't know quite well, but they call it Waterlog. I know it where it is, I know its location, and there's this other one as well next to Umlaas Road when you branch to this road. I was there in
a big house, occupying a big house. That's when Mbeki and Sisulu were - Sisulu, Mandela, Mswalethi, Govan Mbeki, Kathrada and Goldberg, and the seventh one - did I count Mandela?
Yes, you have counted those. I am lost now. I don't know why you are mentioning those, because we are talking about farms here. Now, where do they fit, those people? --- No, I want to tell you that they were released from prison. That's when I got a chance to resign.
You said your job as an askari was to infiltrate. What is that, what is infiltrate? --- No, we have operations. You know, when we operate, when we are coming to arrest you as a terrorist when you shoot we shoot back.
How would you tell if a person is a terrorist? --- There is an album, we had an album. I also have a picture in that very album. That album had all the pictures of people who were terrorists. You know, people will go there. If they were missing their sons they will go to the police station to have a look at the album, and that's when they will know if their sons were terrorists or what. I was there as well, and my name was there. All the pictures had names. Now I was showed - they showed me that album, and people were - people in that album, some were coming from Cape and wherever, everywhere in South Africa.
Beyond looking at the album what were you doing? /--- There
--- There were traitors that were known that will send you to go and fight, and when you get there you will be shot and die. We were using that album and looking at the picture as direction. The picture will give us better
direction, and maybe it will happen it's a person I know in the picture, and we will therefore infiltrate and try to go around the taverns and shebeens around your area and book at the hotels and find out that you are around the neighbourhood.
Thank you very much, Mr Mwelase. According to your statement you say your aim for coming here to the Commission and rendering this testimony, you want the community to know how you were used as an askari, and be given a second chance. Is that what you are saying? --- Yes.
And again that you do miss your work as a soldier and your work as a prison warder. What else would you like the Commission to help you, in what way? --- What I want from this Truth Commission is that I should be known by the community here in Vryheid, and the neighbours as well, even outskirts of Vryheid, that I was coerced, forced to work. I think this is the girl who was a traitor. I left her in Swaziland.
Mr Mwelase, we've heard that, and we are clear that you want the community to know that you were used. --- And I haven't disclosed many things here because your questions also are disturbing me as well. There are many and lots of things I would like to disclose in this Commission, but due to time - and there are people right there who could be saying, "There he is." You know, here there is security, but outside there are no police,
there's no security, maybe anything could happen, lo and behold. Your questions are keeping me short in explaining.
I think we have heard, or perhaps we've seen this
picture you've laid to this Commission, but my last question. As I am listening to your evidence you are a person who we may refer to as one that was tortured, and whose human rights were violated as an askari as well, but what I would like to ask is that are you prepared to admit an application to the Amnesty Committee? --- No, I only have to ask for amnesty from the community or the people of South Africa, because even now I can't be employed.
No, that's - here we are just looking at how your human rights were violated, but when you go beyond us now, as you also were an askari, and violating other people's rights, now that falls under the Amnesty Committee. It may be wise for you to apply for amnesty, and be careful now because there is a D-day on the 10th of May this year. After the 10th of May they won't be accepting any applications thereafter. Now, you want to be careful about that, especially if you want to take that decision as a former askari, because after that time your application won't be accepted if you want to apply for amnesty. --- How will I apply for amnesty, because I don't know?
We will explain to you. If you are willing please contact us before we leave Vryheid. Even during lunch hour or even after the hearing this afternoon you may come to us and we'll explain to you how to go about applying for amnesty. --- Let me turn this thing around. I
would like to see this traitor, as to how much was he paid and how many did he sell or spy on? I know that there was a traitor behind me, and how much was he paid for that and how many did he lead into this? And the last thing I
would like to say this. You - I would like to say everything at the court of law. I am certain that the Amnesty Committee - I was a leader in MK, and I trained many other soldiers in MK, and they came back and they were successful fighters ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 2 - continues on Side A, Tape 4) ... by the traitors in prison. I want you to investigate also how they used me. And there are many that I arrested. Of the two that I arrested I could call them in some ways.
Mr Mwelase, we have written down everything here, and we've written your request. I have just advised you what ways to go about and when you can get in touch with us whilst we are still here in Vryheid. I hand you over to the Chairlady.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Lax, do you have any questions?
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairlady. I have a few questions. What was your MK name? --- I am Ephraim Mabwiya.
(Inaudible) ... I didn't hear very carefully. --- The-Boers-Have-Shitted.
What other names did you use as an askari? --- When I was coming back from Angola they were calling me Gringo. That's a Swahili name.
Okay, so those were your three ... (intervention) --- Ja, these are our MK names outside. And then the one ... (intervention)
What MK names did you use inside? --- Ephraim Mabwiya, The-Boers-Have-shitted, and Chattanooga ...
(inaudible) ... reference by that time, because we didn't that there was an ID ... (inaudible) ... so it was written this, Jerry Mbulelo Hadebe, working ... (intervention)
Just hang on a second. Okay. --- In Ivory
Chemicals in Newcastle.
Yes. --- Yes.
Now, after you'd been arrested for a while you became an askari, correct? --- No, I didn't immediately become an askari.
I said after ... (intervention) --- I was forced.
Yes, but as an askari you would have used other names as well, not just your own name. --- People who knew me outside knew me as Gringo. They referred to me as Gringo especially in Vlakplaas. Those with whom I was in exile they called me all those names, Mwelase, Gringo.
Now, you've mentioned to us the two farms in KwaZulu-Natal that you worked on. You said there was the one near Umlaas Road and there was one near Umdloti. Waterloo Farm you mentioned. Is that right? --- Yes, I worked there. I was working with Colonel Taylor. I am surprised why they are only mentioning de Kock, but Colonel Taylor was there as well, and Captain Botha. This child was killed by Captain Botha, the one in this newspaper article.
(Inaudible) --- Yes, the short one, Hendrik Botha.
You mentioned that you worked on some farms in East London and Port Elizabeth. --- Yes, I went to Port Elizabeth for three weeks.
(Inaudible) --- In Port Elizabeth there is a
place where the stolen cars are kept, and there is a house that looks like a school. I spent a night there with a police who was hated so much by the community of New Brighton. I was with him there.
Mr Mwelase, we've specially not asked you a whole lot of questions here today because we want to have an opportunity to do that with you properly, and this is not the right place. You must just understand that. Now, once we've had a chance to talk to you you will have another chance maybe to tell your other stories. Thank you, Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mwelase, you are still with us here. Whilst you are still with us we have heard your evidence as led in front of this Commission. Before I will say anything I would like to emphasise on this where Mr Dlamini has said that as we listen to your story it is imperative that you go to the Amnesty Committee, where you will ask for forgiveness. You have already made mention of the fact that you don't know how to go about to contact the Amnesty Committee, but the lady seated right next to you can enlist help as to how to go about applying for amnesty before the D-date, which is the 10th of May 1997. Am I clear, am I crystal clear? What I will say to you is that as we have heard your name and seen your name we could tell that you have been tortured a lot, and also you were coerced to be one of the perpetrators, and this is the time when we want to know all the truth about you, as to what your mission was, who was behind you, and what were you doing. And we are very sad because there were times when you were trying to rescue your soul and had to be a member of askari subsequently and be a traitor. We
have heard all that. We are sad to have heard that. As the Commission we are trying to listen and understand people who are coming from your direction, who were trying to protect the community and ended up being on the other side. The last thing I would like to say, it looks like you may need to meet some people from this very Commission who will advise you also psychologically. The very same woman seated next to you is one of the counsellors also who may lead you to other counsellors, who will give themselves time to sit with you and analyse your situation and the trauma you have suffered. Because as I am looking at you I think you have been highly affected also psychologically. Thank you. --- I haven't mentioned other names, by the way, of the people who were traitors here in Vryheid. I am frustrated, I must say.
Thank you, Mr Mwelase. Please try your best to get in touch with the Amnesty Committee. Meet the counsellors as well. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: At this point in time we will adjourn for lunch. I will request and also put it to you that lunch has only been provided for the witnesses and their families, and all others we are - we do apologise that we did not provide anything for you. Even the counsellors that are here to work with us today are welcome for lunch. We'll adjourn now and resume at 2 o'clock. Before you stand up, today is the day of the witnesses who have come to render their testimonies. We will wait for the witnesses to leave the hall, but before that let's stand up to show respect.
CHAIRPERSON: We'll ask people to be seated so we may be able to start and call upon our first witness for the afternoon. We ask Jeconiah Mbele Mahlobo to come forward to the witness stand, and Christina Matlombe. Before we continue maybe we should verify the surname. Is it Mahlobo or Mahlo?
MR MAHLOBO: Mahlombe. I am Matlombe, the surname is Matlombe. Oh, the ID has Mahlombe - Mahlobo.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, we'll refer to you as Mahlobo because that will contradict with the ID. Some time in the future please do attend to this matter. We greet you, Mahlombe family. Who is going to render testimony. Are the four of you going to talk? Is it Jeconiah?
MR MAHLOBO: Jeconiah will render the testimony, and Christina as well will be talking.
CHAIRPERSON: Who is Christina?
MR MAHLOBO: The other two are accompanying us.
CHAIRPERSON: Is she going to say something, the third one.
MR MAHLOBO: Yes, as well as the other one seated on my extreme left.
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe this is what we should do. Who have submitted statements? All of you? All right, they have all submitted statements. Christina submitted her statement, as well as you, Jeconiah, you have submitted your statement. Except for the other two, they haven't submitted their statements. So the two of you will render the testimony. May you stand up to take an oath.
JECONIAH MAHLOBO and CHRISTINA MAHLOBO (Sworn, State) CHAIRPERSON: Mr Ilan Lax will lead you in your evidence. /I will
I will hand over to Mr Ilan Lax.
MR LAX: (Inaudible) ... to all of you. Mr Mahlobo, would you start off by helping us get a picture of your family, and by that I mean your whole family, in the sense that, for example, there was a brother of yours that was supposed to give evidence who has a different surname. He isn't here at the moment I understand. We'd just like to see how you all fit in together. --- It is because when he was in exile he was using my mother's name. Khanyile is my mother's last name.
Can you just start off with who were your parents? --- My mother is Alda Khanyile. My father Armando Mahlombe.
(Inaudible) --- We are a big family. I have my brothers. I am the first-born and Nelson is the second-born, Christine is the third-born, Victoria is the fourth-born. The fifth one is Rocky. He is now late. Magdalene is the sixth one. The seventh one is Molly. I have just counted the ones who are still alive. And my elder brother is the one who is late, the one I am here for. His name is Cyril.
Okay. So in fact, although you're the oldest at the moment, you were not the oldest originally. --- That is correct.
From looking at these statements it seems clear to me that your family has been politically active from a long time ago. --- That is correct.
Tell us a little bit about that just by way of background. --- Most of the time I was inside the country together with my sisters. Police harassed me, or they started harassing me in 1990. I have just made a
mistake, it was in 1980. They were looking for Cyril Bafana, who is my elder brother. He was still alive then. And I was explaining to them that I didn't know where he was. All I heard is that he was in Maputo. Police used to beat me, harass me, asking me where he was, or his whereabouts. I was working at Hlobane. That's where my story, the one that I am going to relate, started. I was working underground for the ANC organisation. As I was working there police discovered that my brothers were the ANC members. Then they started searching me or interrogating me. As they were doing this they did this to all of us, together with my sisters. They were beating us.
(Inaudible) ... stop you for a second. Did they arrest you to bring you in for questioning? --- Yes, they did arrest us.
When was this, if you can remember? --- I am not quite certain but I think it was in 1981.
Who was arrested with you? --- Christine and Victoria, and others like Christine's husband and my uncles as well. I was staying at my uncles' places in different times.
What's Christine's husband's name? --- Norman Ngema.
(Inaudible) --- Alphus Khanyile, and my uncle's wife. I don't know her name.
(Inaudible) ... quite a few of you from your family that were arrested, and they arrested you to try and get information about your brother Cyril. --- That is correct. But what they said to us was that we were supposed to give them the guns and the bombs belonging to
How long did that go on for? --- It took a long time. It was from 1980s until 1990s.
Cyril was killed in 1983, isn't that right? --- Yes, he was killed in 1983 because they arrested him at Dube. That's where they killed him. Even though they didn't come back to us and tell us that they killed him we heard this from other people who knew him, or who knew us. If I am not mistaken it was on Wednesday when they killed him.
The way I am hearing you tell this you say he was arrested and then he was killed. --- Yes, that's correct. They took me and they beat me, and they brought me to Vryheid Police Station for interrogation.
(Inaudible) ... talking about Cyril now. --- No, he was never arrested.
(Inaudible) ... a shooting, is that right? --- That is correct, he was killed in a shoot-out.
The impression I got from what you were saying earlier was that they arrested him and then they killed him ... (inaudible) ... it was you that they arrested ... (inaudible) ... him. --- Yes, they took me, they interrogated me, then they beat me. At that time Cyril wasn't here. He used to come inside the country to do whatever he was supposed to do.
Did you as a family get his body back after they killed him? --- No, we didn't get his body back, and what puzzled me it's that after they killed Cyril they continued to interrogate us or to harass us. That's when they discovered that I had no idea. What they discovered is that Nelson and Cyril were the people who were
involved, and that's why I was harassed. I was being harassed because of being a brother of Cyril and Nelson. This went on until my family or relatives didn't want to accommodate me to their places because they were scared of being harassed as well. And other people as well were scared of me, or to associate themselves with me.
Now, does your family know where Cyril's buried? --- No one from my family knows this. This is what I would like to discover or to find out, because they used to come and arrest me and harass me, and I wasn't in good terms with anyone because of them. They destroyed my name everywhere, and after the killed him they didn't know that I was his brother now, because they were supposed to come to me and tell me that, "Here's your brother, we've killed him now." They continued after they killed him harassing me, and now they were harassing me because of being Nelson's brother as well. And they found out that Nelson came from exile. Before they came from exile my mother died in Maputo. One policeman came. His name is Filizo. He's the one I still remember his name, and he told me that my mother is now late, and if I know about it. And I told him I didn't have any idea, and then he asked me as to where the funeral was going to be. At that time the situation was very tense. There were conflict between the ANC and the IFP. I didn't know whether to bury my mother in Vryheid. And I couldn't bury my mother anywhere because I was no longer in good terms with my uncle. So when they told me this as I took this as a joke from them. (Inaudible) ... when did he come to you and tell you that your mother had died? --- It was in 1990 October.
Did you receive information from ANC people that
your mother had died? --- Yes, ANC had reported this matter to me. They used to report matters like this early in time, so when these people came they just came to laugh at me, as if they wanted to do something for me. I was angry, so when they left it wasn't easy and it wasn't nice.
(Inaudible) ... over a long period of time you'd suffered certain kinds of torture at the hands of the police. --- That is correct.
What sort of things did they do to you? --- They used to beat me, especially white policemen. They used to make - form a circle and then beat me. They used to use the back of their guns to hit me. They would do this until they were tired doing so. They never arrested me. They used to take me for a day and release me the next day, and then I would go back to my work, because I was working at Hlobane at that time. This had implications at my job, because the management at the mine were not happy about me. I was known as an ANC member, therefore I wasn't safe at all.
(Inaudible) ... keep an appropriate distance from it, otherwise it's going to get too loud and then the speakers will have a problem. Thank you. You were saying the management had a problem because you were ANC at Hlobane. What happened? Did you lose your job eventually? --- Yes, I lost my job, because after that there was a fight or a conflict, the one that Prince who was here, the witness who was here before me, told you about. I was a member of the union, and people who were supposed to be killed was myself and other shop stewards. I ran away, I went to Nkambule, because I couldn't go to
my relatives because my relatives were scared as well. Also my management didn't want me.
So the sorts of torture you had were essentially assaults? --- Yes.
No other ... (inaudible) ... as far as you can remember? --- What actually tortured me was my emotions. I didn't have a place to sleep or to go to. My relatives couldn't take me. Besides being beaten I had no friends, because wherever I would go they will follow me, or follow that place. They forced me to work with them, to become a spy or an informer, and I told them I couldn't do that.
Now, your wife was also at some point assaulted by the police. --- Yes, she was harassed by police, because they never stopped. Even today they are still harassing me. They still come to my place even though they don't explain to me why they are there, but they do come. And I am not working at the moment. As I am not working I have six children whom I am supposed to support, and what I am doing to support my children, I have a shebeen at my home. I am selling liquor. But still they do come, and you can tell that they aren't coming there because I have a shebeen, they come there because they want to harass me. They'll harass my children, they'll point guns at my children, even at my wife, and that to me it's still a torture.
Where are these police from? --- From Vryheid.
Have you complained about this to anybody? --- Yes, I did. I wrote a letter to Mr Mafumadi, the Minister. I think it was in 1994 I wrote a letter. In 1994 I wrote a letter to Mr Mafumadi, but up until today
these things they still occur. As I am talking to you I just wrote a letter to the station commander to explain this harassment from police.
In your statement you told us about another relative of yours, Innocent Hlongethwa. --- That is correct.
Who is he? --- He is my mother's relative. I am not quite certain whether my grandmother and his grandmother are sisters, but he is my mother's relative. He is the one who used to give us information about the ANC, or to be an ANC underground member. In 1984 he went to Maputo. When he came back he came to my place at Hlobane. We stayed there for two days. He was a photographer. And then he came to Vryheid. When he went to Vryheid we never saw him up until today. I never saw him.
He just disappeared? --- Yes, he disappeared. The police took him.
How do you know the police took him? --- I heard this from other people that he was arrested, people who knew him, or who knew all of us. That's why I would like the police to explain more about this, because Ernest left my place for Vryheid, and then I heard that the very same day he was arrested by police, but he never came back and I never heard what happened to him.
(Inaudible) ... let us have details of the witnesses who saw him being arrested? Not now, you can do it later. It's okay, we don't have to do it right away. Now, arising - in 1994 you said that - you confirmed what I had said that your wife had been beaten up. --- That is correct.
You laid a charge about it. --- Yes, I did, but
it never helped because the people who were involved, or the perpetrators, were police, and I gave statement to other policemen who knew these police. Therefore nothing was done. That's why I eventually decided to write a letter to Mr Mafumadi. They never paid me back for anything they've damaged in my house. I gave them a quotation but they never paid me.
There's something I want you to clear up for me please. In your statement it says that you received some money from the Firearm Unit, R1 000,00. We just need that explained. How did that come about, or did it in fact happen? --- That's the money that I received after I gave them a quotation. Because I gave them a quotation, but it was more than R1 000,00 for the damages they've caused in my house. What they gave me, they gave me R1 000,00 in return. But those damages were more than R1 000,00. And the person whom I gave my statement told me that it will take time, it will take years for me to be compensated, so I must take that R1 000,00. So I told them, "I can't take R1 000,00 because the damages were more than R1 000,00." They forced me and then I took that R1 000,00. I didn't want to take the R1 000,00 because I knew it was less what they've damaged.
If you give us the names of those people we can always check that up with them. Now, before we continue I must tell you that we have had some affidavits from some of the policemen. If you'll just allow me a moment I'll just clarify which ones. --- I would like to hear that evidence.
One is from a Mr Mazibuko, Mfilisi Mazibuko, who says that he is unable to comment on this case because we
wouldn't give him your name, and he therefore denies the incidents that happened. So he basically says that he couldn't identify this case because we wouldn't give him your name. Now, you spoke about a ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 5) ... and he will get an opportunity to comment on what you've said. I just want to put that on record at this stage. --- If you can excuse me a minute I would like to explain more about Mfiliso. Mfiliso used to harass me a lot. He is the one who used to come to my house continuously. Even though he never beat me, but his deeds were awful and unkind, and he wasn't so sincere. I would like to tell you that he never beat me. White policemen, those who arrested me, I didn't know their names therefore it's difficult for me to say here that who were those policemen, but he is the one that can give you their names because he knows them. And I still want my brother's body. I still want to know where they buried my brother, because I need his body because we need to bury him.
Thank you. Mr Mahlobo, you've told us that you've suffered certain health problems as a result of this situation. --- That is correct. All of us. And I am under medication, or I am taking medication. I have high blood pressure.
(Inaudible) ... dizzy spells and you get confused at times. --- That is correct.
Before I proceed on to the next witness is there anything that ... (incomplete)
CHAIRPERSON: Numzana Mahlobo, I just have one question. My colleague has covered most of the things. You did mention that you are taking medication. Besides taking
medication do you see therapists or psychologists with regard to this? --- No, there isn't except for the medication.
Numzana Mahlobo, I didn't hear very well about your children. I heard that you said you have six children. --- I have six children. The first-born his name is Lindo. He is 16 years old.
Is he still at school? --- Yes.
What standard is he in? --- He's in standard nine. The second-born is Makabongwe. Makabongwe is nine years old and he is in standard four. The third-born is Siphepelo. Siphepelo is eight years old and in standard four. They are both in standard four. The fourth-born is Ponzanane, and he is seven years old and in sub B. And Thulakwande is five years old in first year. And the last-born is Sibekezelo, one year old. And I also have one child from outside marriage, who is 18 years. I am not staying with her, but she is my dependant. I am supporting her.
You said both of you and your wife aren't working. Did you try and apply for pension? --- No, we never tried because we didn't know what to do or how to go about to apply for one.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson, and thank you Mr Mahlobo. I am now going to speak to your sister, Christine. Good afternoon, Christine. We've heard a great deal about your family from your brother already, and I won't canvass those personal details any further. You're going to talk to us about things that happened to you, and other things that happened to your other two brothers. Now, you've told us that at some stage you were
pregnant, and that you were then assaulted by the police during that time. When was this? --- It was in 1981. Police came late at night at about past 12. They took my husband at work at Hlobane. They came with him to my place. They took me to Driefontein Police station, and then they took us in the early hours of the morning to Vryheid Police Station, where they locked us in custody. Early in the morning the interrogated us and they assaulted us. They asked us as to where our brothers were. We told them we didn't know where they were. They assaulted us and they kept on telling us that we were trained and we were used to go outside the country. We didn't even have an idea what training they were talking about. This happened from 7.00 am, and they used to make us stand from 7.00 until 5.00 pm, and they will take us back to custody.
Now, you said you were assaulted. How were you assaulted? --- They will slap us, kick us, and they kept on telling us they need our brothers' whereabouts, because our brothers were terrorists.
How long were you held in custody for at that time? --- A week, and after a week they took me back home and they took Victoria. They said they were going to interrogate Victoria. It was the same whether I was at home or in a police station, because they were coming at home all the time. I was harassed badly, and I got conditioned that if ever I would hear a car outside and I would be so scared and I will think it's them.
Now, you said in your statement earlier that as a result of these assaults, and obviously the tension that you were experiencing, that a few weeks later after you
had been detained you had a miscarriage, is that right? --- That's correct. After they brought me home where they took me I was sick, and then I started bleeding. I went to see Dr Thompson and Dr Thompson referred me to hospital, and he said I mustn't take a public transport, I must take a car or an ambulance to hospital. And then I got a miscarriage.
Now, let's look on further at other things that happened. Just for the record you say that your two brothers, Cyril and Nelson, went into exile in 1977. --- That is correct. When they were doing all these things to us these two brothers of mine were outside the country.
Now, you spoke about a brother, Makhafula. --- Makhafula is Cyril.
(Inaudible) ... confirming that it was in fact the same person. Now ... (inaudible) --- They never came back to us and told us that they found him, but instead they continued coming to our house. And it was Mr Mazibuko, and they showed us a certain album and they asked us to point people whom we knew on that album. I only pointed at my brothers because they were the only two I knew in that album. And then one white man said, "Oh, I know him very well," but he didn't say that they've killed him already.
Okay, if you're ready to continue. (Pause) I am not going to be very much longer. As a result of these interrogations that you had you've told us in your statement that you now suffer from high blood pressure, is that right? --- That is correct.
You get headaches and your sight has been affected. --- That is correct.
You've also said that you have had problems with your kidneys from being beaten on the sides. --- That is correct.
(Inaudible) ... frightened and anxious person. --- That is correct.
Now, have you had any medical treatment for any of these conditions? --- Yes, I do get high blood pressure medication, but I don't have money to travel up and down going to fetch the medication. My husband is not working and I am also not working. Sometimes I am supposed to go and fetch my medication, but because I don't have money for transportation I don't go there.
(Inaudible) ... to find out from you was about your own children and your family. How many children do you have? --- I have six children, and my husband also has one child from another woman.
Are you responsible for looking after all of those children? --- That is correct. All seven of them are staying with us.
Once again just for record purposes, one of the policemen who was named in your statement, we wrote to him, and - that was a Mr Ngobese, and we asked him about a situation where you were assaulted at Battlefield Farm. That's the first incident that you told us about. He denies any knowledge of such incident. --- I gave all the names of the black policemen who were there. Not all of them assaulted us. I just gave their names. But the white policemen were the ones who were torturing us a lot, and I gave you the names of the black policemen because that's where you can get the white policemen's names. And Mazibuko was the one who tortured us.
(Inaudible) ... do you any harm? --- No, he didn't, Ngobese and Gunene, but Filisi Mazibuko did assault us, and one policeman who died at KwaNongoma. And they also tortured us after he died.
(Inaudible) ... in your original statement. --- Yes, I did mention him even though he is now deceased.
(Inaudible) --- He did assault me.
Just before I hand over back to the Chair, your brother Nelson, did he ever tell you about what happened to him? --- There are a lot of things happened to Nelson. They used to come a lot looking for him. They will kick our doors, and we also laid a charge once, but we never heard the case. I got injured at my eye, and they told me that they will come back because I laid a charge for his, but they never came back to tell me.
(Inaudible) ... 1994 Nelson was arrested and he ended up in hospital. Do you remember that? --- Yes, I do.
Did he tell you what happened to him? --- I can't relate exactly what happened to Nelson, but what I can tell you is that they came and they took Nelson. So they tortured him somewhere, I don't know where. I heard that he was put in a tube, and his eyes are not working now because he was kicked or injured.
Just one question now to Mr Mahlobo, and this relates to Nelson. Did Nelson talk to you at all about his treatment? If you don't know it's fine to tell us you don't know. That's okay. --- I will just relate what I can remember. He told me that the police took him and they assaulted him. He told us they assaulted him badly. When I went to the police station the next day I couldn't
see him. His ribs were broken. I can't remember which side, but his ribs were broken because they were jumping on top of him. A lot of things they've done to Nelson. I've never seen them doing this, but that's what he told me. The next day when I saw him he was terrible injured.
Did you see him when he was in hospital? --- I went to hospital and I realised that his eyes were blood red, and he couldn't go to the loo because when you go to the loo you're supposed to put pressure, but because his ribs were broken he couldn't do that.
Thank you, Chairperson. That's all I want to ask at this stage.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Dlamini.
MR DLAMINI: Thank you, Chairperson, I have one question to Christine, and I would like to tell you, Christine, that we have noted some of the things which you've put down on your statement. Like you would need assistance from psychologists or social workers, and doctors as well, and assistance to educate your children. I would like to tell you that whatever assistance you've asked for yourself you must tell the social workers, or the people who will be helping you. And I will also like to tell others as well who came here before the Commission that we've noted everyone's requests, and except that we, we are just committee members of the Commission. What we will do, we will make recommendations to the Government or to the President, and we will put forward our views as to how to help the people, people like you. To everyone who came forward here, they must know that we have noted everything. We didn't ask them here because we noted these things in their statements. What I would like to
ask you is that you said police are still coming to your place and they are still harassing you. What type of harassment? --- They come to my house at night and they kick my door sometimes. As I have mentioned that I was once injured in my eye, that's because one police kicked me. They come to my house and they will say they're looking for guns. The last time they were at my house it was in November 1996.
Did you go and report this matter to the police? --- The November incident we never reported it because they told us to wait, and they've also told us they will come and ask why these things were happening, but they never came.
Do you know their names, the names of the police who came to your house and they kicked your door and they also kicked you? --- No, I don't know their names because they were boers.
And you said they were from Firearm Unit? --- Yes. There's one policeman who's white who came with Hlatshwayo and Mdletshe. After November they never came back. Yesterday they came to my brother's house and they said they were looking for liquor. I have one other question to ask. I have a child who was injured by police, and his muscles was injured, and I would like to know what to do. One policeman threw a bottle and it cut his muscle. He did go to hospital, but because his muscle was cut he's no longer well. He gets - the leg gets swollen sometimes.
We will investigate this matter, and we will try our best and we will investigate it properly. Thank you.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. I just want to, in
relation to the story of your brother, Nelson, just place on record statements made by some of the police who you named - who he named, I beg your pardon. One is Mr Mdletshe, the other one is Mr Westermeyer, the third one is Mr Mazibuko, and they all deny any involvement in any assaults on your brother. I just place that on record at this stage. --- We have witnesses.
CHAIRPERSON: One question to you, Christine. You said when you had a miscarriage you were in hospital. --- Yes, I was in hospital, but I didn't tell the hospital staff that I was beaten because I was supposed to go to police station and sign, and they just threw a pen to us and they told us that we were bitch terrorist. And I was so scared to tell the hospital people.
This child who was injured, did they do this deliberately? --- No, the child was with other adult people.
Did the child go to hospital? --- Yes, he went to Vryheid Hospital.
MR LAX: Just one last question please, Chairperson. I just want to recognise Veronica, who is one of the other sisters - or is it Victoria, I am not sure - who was also arrested at the same time, and who has also made a statement to the Commission. But, as you will understand, there are so many people who've made statements we can't select everybody to come forward. So we just wanted to acknowledge you and say we haven't forgotten about your story as well. (Inaudible - end of Side B, Tape 5) ... be with them in this time. --- I think I am the one who sustained most suffering, more than my brother and my sister here.
CHAIRPERSON: What I would like you to know is that even though we don't give you a chance to tell us your story we'd like to assure you that your statement is here with us, and we aren't going to throw it away. We are taking it. What we will do is that, as Mr Dlamini has just said, is that we will recommend these statements, all of them. We aren't going to be selective, we're going to recommend all these statements. We are going to put it in our report and forward it to the President. Our duty is to collect all the information and make recommendations to the President, then he will be the one who'll decide at the end of the day. Therefore you mustn't be worried that you are not given a chance to talk as your brother and sister have just related the story to us. Your story will be equally before the Commission. We will look at the statement. We aren't going to throw away the statement. It will also go into the reports which are going to be forwarded to the President. What I will say now is that I would like to thank you, and to thank your courage, and we've recognised that you were fighting against any injustice, and you didn't say now that you were being tortured or harassed and run away from the truth. You stood by the truth. And we've also heard that other relatives were scared or they stood far from you, but we would like you to understand and like them, because you have to understand that people aren't the same, some people are scared, some people are brave. Another aim of the Commission is that we like reconciliation and forgiveness. Reconciliation should occur in everyone, even relatives, even those who were scared. We will try and help you, and we will refer your case to Reparation
Committee, and we will try and see what help we can give to you and your children, more especially your children's education. Thank you a lot. --- Thank you a lot. There's just one thing I would like to put forward before the Commission. I would like the Commission to try and help us. (Pause) I apologise.
No, you don't have to apologise, you have to cry out if you feel like. --- I would like the Commission to help us as to found out the body of my brother and my mother's relative, the one who disappeared in the hands of the police - and Innocent Hlongethwa, who's my mother's relative, and Cyril's body. And I would like to tell the Commission that the police are still harassing us, and the boers they are still harassing us even though it's not just us. They are harassing the whole community in that farm where we are staying. I know that this it's not just to us, but it's happening to everyone in the community there. I don't know how far the Commission can try and help with regard to this, because people in the farms are still suffering from the boers' hands, and they are still forming some means of killing people.
Which farms are you talking about? --- Battlefield in Khambula. We aren't safe, or rather we don't feel safe because we are known as ANC people, so we know that any day they can come and do whatever they want to.
Thanks a lot for telling us that, because we can also try and see if we can give any assistance as to make sure that you are safe there. This is very important for the country, because at this time everyone is trying to reach reconciliation. We have to ensure that the things
that happened in the past don't occur again today and in the future. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We have come to the end of the programme today, and we would like to know if the witnesses have arrived, those we were expecting today they have arrived, by the name of Constance Mbutho, Samuel Mbatha and Vusimuzi Duze, Michael Sihlako, Selby Nene, and Mpilondle Khanyile? Have they arrived? Is it possible that they are here.
INTERPRETER: Somebody is talking from the audience. The interpreter cannot catch that.
CHAIRPERSON: As I have indicated earlier on that we have come to the end of the programme today. Tomorrow we will resume at half past eight in the morning, not at nine. I can see that people are tired now, and impatient. Let's wrap all of this together. In a special way we would like to thank all of those who have rendered testimony today, together with their families, and thank each and every one of you for your time in coming to listen to the witnesses, your behaviour especially. Before we stand up in closing we will ask Mr Dlamini, who is right here in front, to pray. We will close in prayers.
MR DLAMINI CLOSES THE HEARING WITH A PRAYER
PROCEEDINGS ADJOURNED TO 1997/04/17