CAPE TOWN August 6 1996 Sapa

WOMEN TO TESTIFY ON ABUSE BEFORE TRC

The spotlight in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's human rights violations hearings in the Western Cape on Wednesday will fall on the abuse suffered by women during detention.

Wednesday would be the first day of human rights violations hearings devoted entirely to women and would coincide with National Women's Day on Friday August 9, the TRC said in a statement.

"The decision was taken after realising very few women came forward to tell their own stories of abuse, particularly of a sexual nature. We hope more such hearings will be possible."

About 10 women are expected to tell their stories to the commission, sitting at the University of the Western Cape.

Among them is veteran activist Mildred Ramakama Lesiea, who was first detained in Nyanga in Cape Town in 1963 in connection with MK activities.

She was also detained in the mid-1980s.

She is expected to tell the commission about the intense interrogation and the torture she was subjected while being detained.

Another witness expected to tell her story is Zubeida Jaffer, formerly married to Western Cape MEC Johnny Issel.

She was detained in Port Elizabeth in the mid-80s and later in Grahamstown and then Sea Point in Cape Town.

Allegations of sexual abuse as well as threats of death against her and her baby have been mentioned.

Western Cape activisit Shirley Gunn, who had a baby while being held in detention in the 80s, is also expected to tell her traumatic story.

The panel presiding at the hearings will consist of women only - commissioners Glenda Wildschut, Dr Wendy Orr, Dr Mapule Ramashala and Mary Burton, as well as additional committee member Tiny Maya of the Eastern Cape.

For the first time a woman is also in charge of the commission's security arrangements. She is Inspector Jackie Snyman of the VIP protection unit.


South African Press Association, 1996
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