DATE: 12-06-1997



___________________________________________ MS MKHIZE: Can I just really, can I just ask people to cooperate with us. Please take a seat sir.

DR RANDERA: Mr Molekane, thank you very much for coming. You've come all the way from Cape Town today and I understand you have to be back in Cape Town by this evening, your flight is at 6:15, so we don't have much time with you. Professor Piet Meiring is going to be helping you.

Before he does that, can you please stand to take the oath?

R MOLEKANE: (sworn states)

PROF MEIRING: Mr Molekane, from my side too, thank you for being with us and please tell us what happened to you, the story, the incidents you want to report in your own words, in your own time.

MR MOLEKANE: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am going to be very, very brief seeing that we do not have much time left.

I wanted firstly to put into a little bit of context youth activities and children activities from the 1970's to the early 1990's. I am speaking first as a person that was involved in some of the activities as a member of a number of youth organisations.

Firstly as a member of COSAS, the Congress of South African Students, also as a member of the Soweto Youth Congress which later developed together with other youth organisations throughout the country to establish what was called the South African Youth Congress and later as a member of the ANC Youth League, so I have moved from the time in 1976 when I was only 15 years, when the events happened on that dark Wednesday, when the students moved from school to school and asking students to join them, to demonstrate against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

Already at that time, I was in standard 5 and we were doing a number of subject in Afrikaans. I did standard 5 mathematics was called "wiskunde", we were writing that paper in 1976 when the uprising started.

Some of the people that I know firsthand who were tortured, detained and suffered under the regime at that time, I would like to refer to in the 1970's where the former Mayor of Soweto, who is now late Sophie Masete, who was detained and tortured here at John Vorster Square.

We also had Joyce Depale who I happen to know quite well, was also tortured and lost a child in John Vorster Square in 1977 and her brother also was killed in John Vorster Square later.

The forms of torture that the police meted out in the main particularly the Security Branch of the police, if you were arrested would be for males, young kids to be squeezed. To squeeze their testicles, asking them to speak the truth. I know of a person called Chief Twala, he is presently working for the Foreign Affairs Department, his nails were removed, his toe nails were removed with pliers.

They would also use electric shocks, suffocation was also one of the methods that they liked, either with a tyre tube or with a plastic bag. And they would also deny people sleep. I think that was one of the worst forms of torture they would suffer.

I personally suffered that type of thing when I was detained for the first time in 1983. I was taken from home, early hours of the morning and taken to Protea police station, almost naked. I was not given a chance to get dressed and I was taken there. When I arrived there the police that I know, I don't know if I should mention them here, but it is police that I know, who I still remember very well, tortured me, closed my face with a plastic bag and started punching me all over my body.

At that time what they wanted to know, because already by that time, COSAS was in existence, Soweto Youth Congress was also in existence. The police and their mentality was that students or children do not think for themselves, there are people behind who are pushing them to do things that were happening within our communities.

And therefore they wanted to know if I was a member of the ANC, if I was trained and if the things that I was doing, there were any other people that were pushing me from behind. At the time, one could not admit that already he had contact with the African National Congress and also belonged to the underground of the ANC.

One could not do that because structures like the PAC, which started off in Soweto as detainee aid movement, already existed and brought to out attention a pamphlet which they used to call, "You, Detention and the Law" which was a very helpful document which managed to assist us not to incriminate ourselves and let it be easy for the police to take us into prisons.

I think one of the most important things that happened especially after COSAS was established, after COSAS existed, was that for the first time from 1976 onwards, you had a mouthpiece of students that was able to organise activities nationally at one time. The struggles that COSAS was wedging, mainly against Bantu education, was firstly to fight for the accusation or rather for the establishment of democratic SRC's in schools.

The police and the State at that time, in stead of giving in to that simple demand that students should have SRC's in the high schools, they refused them to give them SRC's and in stead what happened is that F.W. de Klerk introduced in the schools a Bill that limited the age of students of people that should go to high schools, I think it was called age restriction law and in universities they introduced the quota law, that particular number of Black students can go into the formally White universities.

That also made students and generally children or rather young people very angry, because now they were denied a right to education because we were all saying that that was a right. If I may jump quickly and go to 1985, which was a very special year for children. It was the international year of the youth as declared by the United Nations.

That even when the world had declared that there was an international year of the youth, apartheid did not spare young kids, did not spare children, did not spare youth. The celebrations that were supposed to happen amongst organised young people, were disrupted. I remember very well in Tembisa we had organised a very huge rally there - it was dispersed by police.

People were sjamboked, people were arrested and had to go to Diepkloof hall and in Diepkloof hall, when we arrived, they had to pour teargas powder all over the hall and if you walk around that teargas powder, then it would affect you and your clothes for quite a very long time.

During that time, repression in South Africa and also general harassment by the police, was at its peak especially in those years, in 1985 and children became a subject of discussion in Harare at a conference organised by the United Nations to look at children in South Africa, repression and the law.

This is what Vlok had to say at that time about that conference that was taking place in Harare. I would like to quote just one paragraph from a statement that I just retrieved from the newspaper. This is what he said, in fact he was saying that all that people are going to say in Harare because the conference had a delegation including Sophie Masete, the late Mayor of Soweto, representing young people there and Vlok was saying that it is all lies.

There is nothing that was happening, there is no torture, there was no detention, no children in prison and so on and so forth. He said "much of the false and slandered allegation and information originates from radical individuals and organisations from within South Africa and also from the Detainees Parents Support Committee. Mr Vlok said it was because of this he had felt it necessary to release, he said young detainees received excellent medical care, were visited regularly by Judges, District Surgeons and their parents.

I would like to make an example in contrast to this. I was in detention during the state of emergency from the beginning to the end, I think it was about eight months if I am not mistaken. We received at that period, I think about close to about 5 000 kids, at different periods because what they used to do, they would go to a school and arrest the whole school, bring it to prison and they would stay there for 14 days.

After 14 days they are all released and another batch of school children will come in there and so on and so forth. And the torture that I indicated earlier was the order of the day in most of the children that were detained during the state of emergency. So what Vlok was saying here, is very untrue because I stayed there for that whole period of time, without seeing any District Surgeon, without receiving visit from anybody.

In fact at that time I was even tortured myself because my arm was broken when I was still in Protea police station and therefore what the police did, was to circulate me around a number of police stations.

First Mondeor, John Vorster, Sandton police station and when I was healed, they then took me to Johannesburg prison, but for that whole period of time, one did not receive any visit from anybody. There were also women who were very young, who were also detained during that time and tortured.

I remember for an example Bessie Fehla was also one of those people that were detained, Busie Maglowo was also detained and kept at various prisons. Patience was also detained at that time and she was poisoned I think on her leg and up to now, she still has problems with her leg.

So what Vlok was saying here, is really untrue. I also want to make another quote in closing Chairperson, to show and do away with the myth that young people got involved in the struggle because they were pushed by others and it was not a conscious decision that they wanted to get involved in the struggle. It was not because - it was because of the conditions that people and young people as well, lived under that made them to become involved in the struggle and to fight against the atrocities.

Here I want to quote from another newspaper. Here it is Mr Roelf Meyer speaking - at that time he was the Deputy Minister of Law and Order. He says "children, they have become the instruments, best used by the callous, revolutionaries and radicals in their ill-founded bid to overthrow Christian, democratic rule in South Africa and replace it with a Marxist rule."

This is what Mr Roelf Meyer had to say at that time, I think it was in 1987, referring to children who they were putting in prisons and saying that they are not thinking for themselves. That the State is actually trying to defend what he called here "Christian, democratic rule", which the world had declared a crime against humanity. Thank you.

PROF MEIRING: Mr Molekane, thank you for travelling all the way from Cape Town to be with us today. You are in a hurry. Do you have time for one or two questions or should we cut it short?

MR MOLEKANE: No, I will take questions.

PROF MEIRING: Maybe - I have only one question. You were very young when things started for you in 1976, you were about 15 years old. The one thing that is in my mind - how did children of your age cope with what was happening to them, the trauma, the torture, what made them go on, and on, and on?

MR MOLEKANE: Well, at least in the 1970's until the late 1970's you still had semblance of organisations, for example you had an organisation of parents, I think it was called BPS, Black Parents' Convention, which was doing much of what the DPSC was doing, because they had mobile clinics and they were assisting with stress and trauma of young children and in that way, young people got to adapt, but also at the same time, in the whole of Africa or in Southern Africa, there were a lot of positive things that were happening.

For example in Mozambique, in Angola and also the struggle around Namibia, and also Zimbabwe, those things motivated young people to think of speeding up the pace of getting independence as well.

PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much. I will hand you over to the Chairperson, maybe there are some of my colleagues who want to add a question or two.

DR RANDERA: Raphu, sorry in my rush to introduce you, I forgot to say that you are also a National Member of Parliament and that is why you are rushing back.

I just want to take you back to this question what you call re-education camps - Dr Coleman this morning referred to them as rehabilitation camps. Can you just from your own experience tell us a little bit more about this?

MR MOLEKANE: The youth camps were mainly organised by the South African Defence Force in conjunction of course with the police. They should be looked at as part of the broad strategy of the regime at that time through what they used to call the Joint Monitoring Councils to try and brainwash and also to influence young people to move away from the struggle and to inculcate them with what they used to call this "Christian, democracy" of apartheid.

Now they would take young kids from schools and take them out in camps in Magaliesberg was the most famous one which was used, the Magaliesberg camp, and from there then they would begin to teach them about communism, anti-communism. They would teach them about the ANC, they would teach them about the struggle in general and begin to recruit them against - so that they should become spies for the police or also to join the organisation and become provocateurs within the organisations, so that they would become more radical and become elected into leadership positions and reign organisations in their march towards freedom.

The were a number of them also in the Northern Transvaal in Mesina, they also used to take people there. I can't remember the exact name of the camp, but there was a camp also in Mesina that they used to take kids.

You also had an organisation called Youth for South Africa/Jeugkrag which was exposed when there was this Inkatha scandal thing, Inkatha gate scandal that it was funded and formed by the police. And then it disbanded afterwards.

It also used to organised similar camps and similar things also used to happen in those camps. I myself attended one. I see Fivi is there, she also attended one of those camps.

DR RANDERA: Thank you.

MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much for coming all the way from Cape Town. I should think what you have said - it really gives a context of what you have been struggling with for the whole day today. And also I want to really affirm you and say as a young person who saw a lot quite early in life, it is amazing how you seem to talk about this difficult issues in a very calm and contained sort of way.

Just one thing which I want to share with you is that we have had many submissions, even from professional bodies, international professional bodies, talking about long term consequences of torture and I will really say it would be important for you as well to create opportunities for yourself to look at where you come from with an aim of facilitating healing in your own personal life. Thank you very much for coming.

MR MOLEKANE: Can I conclude by also saying that whilst we appreciate the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and say that it is doing a very good job in trying to bring about reconciliation in our country, I think there should be a realisation that young people who had gone through that period, angry as they were, they have shown a willingness to forgive and to reconcile and that this is one step in trying to also cement that, thank you.