TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
SUBMISSIONS - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DATE: 22 MAY 1997 NAME: ZAMIKHAYA WILBERFORCE
CASE: CT/00120 - ATHLONE
CHAIRPERSON: I would like to call Zamikhaya Botha to come up onto the
stage. I see the Fezeke Choir is leaving. Thank you for your contribution and
good bye. Can you hear me through the headphones.
MR BOTHA: Yes, I can hear you. Yes, I can hear you.
CHAIRPERSON: Before I ask Ms Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela to lead your
evidence I am going to ask Mrs Burton to administer the oath.
MS BURTON: Good morning Zamikhaya. Are you ...
MR BOTHA: Good morning.
MS BURTON: Are you going to make the oath?
MR BOTHA: Yes, I am.
MS BURTON: Please will you raise your right hand.
ZAMIKHAYA WILBERFORCE BOTHA: (Duly sworn in, states).
MS BURTON: Thank you.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: I would also like to greet you. Thank you
Chairperson. I also greet you, Zamikhaya Are you Zamikhaya's mother?
MRS BOTHA: Yes, I am.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: You are not going to testify, is that correct?
MRS BOTHA: Yes, that is correct.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Zamikhaya, you have told us in the statement
before the Commission about the way in which you were injured. We, firstly,
would like to ask you to tell us when this incident took place.
MR BOTHA: I would also like to greet.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Could you please come closer to the microphone
so that I can hear you.
MR BOTHA: I would also like to greet.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Thank you.
MR BOTHA: This incident took place in 1985.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: How old were you?
MR BOTHA: I was 11 years old at the time.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: You were 11 years old. What were you doing at
the time, were you at school?
MR BOTHA: I was at school at the time.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: What standard were you?
MR BOTHA: I was in standard two.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Do you have any brothers and sisters?
MR BOTHA: Yes, I do.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Are they older or younger than you?
MR BOTHA: I am the first born at home. I was born in 1974. So, the others are
younger than I am.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Do you remember the day on which this incident
took place, the day on which you were injured, what kind of day it was?
MR BOTHA: Yes, I remember it very well.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Can you just tell us what kind of day it was.
MR BOTHA: This incident took place in 1985, the date was the 17th of June. I
would say that there was conflict there on that day.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Please take your time Zamikhaya, because
sometimes it is very difficult to relate such painful experiences. You may take your
time. Were you from school?
MR BOTHA: I would say that I did not go to school on that day, but this incident
took place on a Thursday. The Wednesday I had a headache and I left school. I
think it was approximately two o' clock the Wednesday when I left school. I was
sitting next to the house, we were living in the KTC area in Nyanga and I was
sitting next to the house and my friends came while I was sitting there. Because I
still had the headache I was sitting there, but at that time the pains were not that
bad so I was just sitting there. My friends came and we all left without me
reporting to my mother where I was going. We went to NY78. What happened in
the vicinity of NY78 is that the police were shooting at the time and someone had
been shot near KTC Bazaar. I would say that we went to go and, out of curiosity,
to look at this person that had been shot. Before we got to the scene, I would say,
the last thing I remember is a caspar coming in our direction. We were walking
down NY78 towards KTC.
I would say that the last I recall was that caspers' were coming and I came
to when the Comrades were taking me into Guguletu Police Station. I would say
that my story goes that far, as far as I can recall, as far as relating what happened
before my discharge from hospital.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Were you just walking, going to look at what
happened to this person, you were just somebody walking there with your friends?
MR BOTHA: Yes.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: When you were shot you felt the bullet penetrate
MR BOTHA: I never even felt the bullet. I came to when I was being carried by
my Comrades to Guguletu Police Station. It seems that I lost consciousness when
I was shot and I regained consciousness when I got to the Guguletu Police Station
and I was put in an ambulance.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Which hospital were you admitted to and how
long were you admitted for? I am quite sure that this is a very painful experience
for you to relate where at the tender age of 11, without even being aware of what
was happening, you were blinded. I just want to tell the people that Zamikhaya
who is testifying now lost sight of his one eye.
MR BOTHA: I will try and tell the people. I am a youth with no life, I lost my life.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: The things we are faced with here today are so
difficult, because young people like yourself when faced with difficulties like this in
life, see their life just disintegrating before their very eyes and what is so painful is
that there is not even anything that can be cited as the reason for you having lost
your sight. Could you please tell us, Zamikhaya, what your wish was before this
incident? What were your dreams, your idealogies? Could you just tell us what
your dreams were so that we can try and comprehend the extent of your loss.
MR BOTHA: I would start by saying that I am now 23 years old and I am an adult
now and I now realise the expenses that I am incurring and I could have been a
football player, but because of the loss of sight in the one eye, because there is
nothing else I can do, I try and carry on playing football. Hence, my feelings are
that at this age, looking at my peers, I would have liked to have been a professional,
but I cannot see myself as being a professional anymore, because I have this
permanent damage and this causes extreme loneliness in my life and also makes it
very difficult for me to mix with people and so often I just want to go and sit by
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Do you find very often that you are alone as if
nobody cares about you, as if there is no one on your side?
MR BOTHA: Yes, I would say that I often feel very lonely and it feels as if
nobody cares. Even hence the experience, this experience, when we tried to
institute steps, for example, my parents trying to establish since they shot at me.
The State at the time told us that we would not be able to lay any charge against
the police, because the police could not be prosecuted. So I would say that that
was also one of the causes why at this point I feel such bitterness towards the
people that took my life away from me, because I would regard my eyesight as my
life. It could have given me a better life. I would say that is one of the things that
makes it difficult for me to make peace with this incident, because even if the
person who did this could compensate me. I do not see any kind of material
compensation, you know, from somebody who is the Station Commander of the
police who was promoted after doing this to me. I do not see what good his
assistance could possibly do. Any kind of assistance that he could offer me, this
person that did this at some stage tried to compensate me by having it, making it
possible for me to obtain an artificial eye, but that artificial eye does not help me in
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: So you are saying that nothing could compensate
the loss of your sight which is, ultimately, the loss of your life?
MR BOTHA: I do not see anything that could possibly compensate me for this
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Zamikhaya, I would like to pose a few questions.
As you say you went to try and lay charges or institute a claim. Did anything
become of the matter?
MR BOTHA: I would say that at the time which was 1986, about, there were
people, there was an organisation, something like the Truth Commission who went
from door to door and appeared to be interested in assisting people whose rights
had been violated and they were working in co-operation with attorneys here in
town. We then instituted a civil claim and we kept going back to them and they
would keep saying to us that we would be unable to charge the police, because
police cannot be prosecuted and there was nothing else that my parents could do.
They did not know what more they could do.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: I do not know if you can remember, Zamikhaya,
that who the attorneys were. Do you recall?
MR BOTHA: The people who were assisting in this matter, just excuse me for a
minute please. Let me ask my mum.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Zamikhaya is still asking his mother who the
attorneys were trying to assist him in this matter and his mother will try and assist
MR BOTHA: I would say that I know what the address is of the place where we
always use to go. My mum says that she knows that there was someone by the
name of David, but someone else who could help clarify this whole thing, who
assisted us lives in the, use to live in the same street. Not exactly in the same street,
but not too far from where we stay.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Are there any names which were mentioned of
people who had anything to do with your injury?
MR BOTHA: I beg your pardon.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Names of persons who were involved in your
injury. Do you know of any such name?
MR BOTHA: Like witnesses?
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: I am talking about the people who injured you.
Do you have any names or are there, did you recall any names being mentioned at
the time when you were trying to institute action?
MR BOTHA: Their names were unobtainable, because they were in a caspar at the
time, but the Comrades who assisted us at the time by going to report the incident
to my parents, took the registration number of the caspar from which we were shot
and when we got to Guguletu Police Station the police who had shot me were
present at Guguletu Police Station at the time. So they phoned the ambulance.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Thank you very much Zamikhaya. I am now
going to hand you back to the Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Before we proceed can I just sat that
the next two witnesses are both going to be speaking in Xhosa so if there are
people who have headphones who understand Xhosa, can I please ask you to give
your headphones over to people who do not understand so that as many people as
possible can participate. Do any other members of the panel have questions? Mrs
MS BURTON: Mr Botha, I would like to ask if you can remember the name of
the hospital that you went to?
MR BOTHA: Conradie Hospital.
MS BURTON: Thank you. That will help us to establish the records and get all
the details about your case.
MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Thank you Chairperson. Zamikhaya, thank you
for having come here today to come and share your pain with us. You lost things
that are very important in life and it is very painful. What is even more painful is
when you loose things like your sight or any other crucial part of your being, you
loose your life as you have so correctly put it. The life that lay ahead of you
changes in an irreversible way and that is very painful. It is very difficult to
articulate or put into words the extent of damage done as a result of the gross
violation of human rights of young people like yourselves. We do not have the
sufficient words, at all, to do that. In fact I do not believe there is any language that
defines appropriately what the damage is to youth. I would just like to thank you
for having come and we would like to ask Xola and Viola to lead you off the stage.
Thank you very much.
1 Z W BOTHA
ATHLONE HEARING WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE