TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
DATE: 28 JULY 1997
NAME: JOYCE MARUBINI
CASE NUMBER: JB03389/02/NPLTM
HELD AT: JOHANNESBURG
CHAIRPERSON: I'd now like to call to Joyce Marubini to the witness stand please.
Hello Mama. Thank you for coming today. We're very glad that you've finally been able to make it here. We must apologise for the upset that happened last night and this morning, but we're grateful that despite that, you've managed to come here and in fact tell your story.
I'm going to ask Commissioner Hlengiwe Mkhize to assist you with the leading of your story. I'm going to hand over to her now.
MS MKHIZE: We greet you. I shall request you to stand up so that you can take an oath.
JOYCE MARUBINI: (Duly sworn, states).
MS MKHIZE: The witness has been sworn in.
We would request you to just introduce the lady next to you to us, before you lead your evidence.
MS MARUBINI: This is Mrs Sarah Mufanadi from Namagatle.
MS MKHIZE: Is she a friend?
MS MARUBINI: No, she's my sister.
MS MKHIZE: Could you please relate to this Commission and tell us as to what happened to you.
MS MARUBINI: In 1986, on the 24th of March, on a Sunday, the time was 20 to three in the afternoon; we had a meeting of Namagatle Congress.
When the policemen from Phalaborwa came, and they got us at the meeting, they came to the Lutheran Church where we were holding the meeting and they threw teargas-canisters at us. Then people started scattering in all directions and ran, but I never ran away. That's when I was taken and arrested. When I got there, there was a certain policeman by the name of Mazumba and they arrested the other people.
At the time they did not take us to the police station to charge us, but they only took us there at 10 to six and they went around the whole location with us and at about 10 to six when they actually put us in the cells, they did not give us food, they did not give us water, they shut the toilets so that we could not go in there to relieve ourselves.
At night, that particular night, they came and woke us up and they switched off the lights and said we should lie on our stomachs. They started assaulting us with sjamboks. At the time we were dressed and they started assaulting us on our buttocks up to the time that our panties were torn and our under-garments were exposed.
They said we're not going to appear in court and they told lies that when they tried to arrest us, we tried to evade arrests, we jumped fences and that's how we got injured.
And when they brought us food, they brought us dry pap. They didn't give us water to wash, they didn't give us water to drink and our clothes were full of blood. They were torn and we appeared in court in that state.
We asked to be given bail and we were granted bail of R260.00. And when we went out an attorney took us to doctor Mongeke. And when Dr Mongeke examined us, he found that we had been assaulted grievously and he said - and they said if we want to see Mandela, we're going to see Mandela on that particular day and that's what they told us.
There were others who were wearing "Release Mandela"
T-shirts and I was just wearing a dress which was torn, the top part. We were taken to Dr Mongeke and they escorted us to Dr Mongeke's surgery.
When we got there, they surrounded the surgery so they said that we wouldn't be able to escape. Our representative was also present at that time. They did not allow us to go for further treatments, because they were always escorting us. I could not sleep on my side, because of the injury that I sustained when I was gun-butted by one policeman.
We went to court for about three times, that was in town and we got into the magistrate's court, he said he couldn't find us guilty. So we had to be released.
I wanted to know as to why we weren't being charged and why we were assaulted in the first place. We were chased outside. They give us R50,00 each and when we asked as to why we were getting R50,00, they said it was for transport.
Ever since this took place, I have a problem using my right hand.
CHAIRPERSON: If you can just give her something to drink, please.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much. Your story or experiences take us to what was happening in the Northern Province round about this time.
Before we come to the specifics of your experiences, can I just check one thing. According to your statement this happened on the 21st?
MS MARUBINI: It happened on the 21st of March 1986.
MS MKHIZE: Is it on the same day when a person by the name of Mavis Malati was also shot?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, that is correct, that was on the same day.
MS MKHIZE: What is the correct date; is it the 21st or the 23rd?
MS MARUBINI: No, it is the 23rd. I think I'm a bit confused of the stress.
MS MKHIZE: Okay. So the correct date is the 23rd of March.
Now as you relate the story, can you please tell us to what sort of life you led? Were you involved in politics or were you just an ordinary citizen?
MS MARUBINI: The youth league had elected me as an organiser.
MS MKHIZE: You were the youth organiser?
MS MARUBINI: That is correct. What were your duties? What was expected of you as a youth organiser? Just tell us briefly the list of duties that you had to discharge.
MS MARUBINI: In Phalaborwa there's a certain project that makes T-shirts as well as pens and papers and I was supposed to organise the youth to help with that project.
MS MKHIZE: Maybe if you organised there's something in particular that you used to do that was perceived by the police as a threat?
MS MARUBINI: There was nothing that I was doing and I do not understand as to why the police perceived me as a threat or my actions as being threats.
MS MKHIZE: On the day that you were arrested; what were you doing actually, because you said you were attending a meeting? What was being discussed in that meeting? Did you have a written agenda? Were you singing or chanting or what was actually happening that drew the attention of the police?
MS MARUBINI: As I've already explained, I was sitting on the chair and the meeting was not yet opened formally. It was 25 to three when we got in there.
It was five minutes before the meeting started; it was then that they pounced in on us. We were just waiting for the agenda and the opening. That's when they got in. I was just sitting on a chair.
MS MKHIZE: If you remember quite well; those who got in, were these women or were they male and what did they say to you before arresting you?
MS MARUBINI: Are you referring to the police?
MS MKHIZE: Yes.
MS MARUBINI: They never said anything to me. They just started shooting and when I looked around I saw people going out through windows and there was a lot of commotion at this stage. When I looked back, I could see policemen standing behind me. There's nothing ever that they said to us or me.
MS MKHIZE: At the time they were shooting; where were the women? Were they just shooting indiscriminately?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, some of the women were arrested together with me. We were 22 women. Others were able to escape through the windows and others ran out the doors, but we were arrested.
MS MKHIZE: How many women were there when you were arrested?
MS MARUBINI: We were 22, but they arrested only six women, but I'm not sure as to how many people attended the meeting or how many women were at the meeting.
MS MKHIZE: After having been arrested, did you come together or did you come across female police or women police?
MS MARUBINI: No, it was only male police, there were no women there.
MS MKHIZE: You also told us that you were assaulted and your under-garments were torn and exposed, drenched with blood. Did you ever request the female police to help you?
MS MARUBINI: No, we were not able to do that, because the policewomen were not there. We were only held by Dr Mongeke and we were taken to Pulukwane Centre where our photos were taken and we believed that the matter would proceed further, since they've taken the photos.
MS MKHIZE: After you had been arrested, did you appear before a magistrate and did you - were you addressed by the magistrate and did you tell the magistrate about the assault?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, we appeared before the magistrate and the case was remanded. We were taken to the doctor and the attorney came back and told us that we had to appear at a later date.
MS MKHIZE: If you remember quite well; were you able to tell the magistrate about the treatment that was meted out to you during the time of your arrest and during the detention?
MS MARUBINI: The magistrate did not ask us anything. He just referred us to town. He said we were supposed to go to a certain magistrate's court in town. And he said he couldn't find us guilty, he couldn't deal with our matter.
It was referred to a certain place in town.
MS MKHIZE: I shall refer you back now to the Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Joyce.
MS SEROKE: You said you started a youth congress. When did this youth congress start?
MS MARUBINI: It had just started on that particular year. We were in the early stages of the youth congress. We organised this with men. It wasn't only women. When we formed it, we're both men and women.
MS SEROKE: Now what were your main objectives within the youth congress?
MS MARUBINI: When we formed this congress, the children did no want to go to school. They were rebelling against Bantu education.
MS SEROKE: So you - what were you going to help with, or in which way were you going to help the children?
MS MARUBINI: We decided to form this so that we could be able to approach the educators or the teachers with regard to our dissatisfaction with Bantu education.
MS SEROKE: Now you say you were the organiser of the youth congress; the other men who were members of this congress, how did they treat you, or how did they regard women within that group?
MS MARUBINI: Well, there was a working relationship. We didn't have any problems with the males. They respected us and they listened to us when we aired our views.
MS SEROKE: At the time of your arrest, were you married?
MS MARUBINI: No, I wasn't.
MS SEROKE: Do you have a husband now?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, I do.
MS SEROKE: When you said this policeman, according to your statement you said you were stripped down to your under-garments. As a woman being assaulted or beaten by a man in a state of half nakedness, how did you feel?
MS MARUBINI: I felt very dehumanised. I felt very helpless and the injuries we sustained, some have permanent scars.
MS SEROKE: When they assaulted you, was it necessary in your own opinion that you be undressed during the assault?
MS MARUBINI: I did not see a need for that.
MS SEROKE: Did you ever ask as to why you were undressed?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, they said they wanted to show us as to where Mandela is and they would tell us as to where he stays and which area he stays, because Mandela is Xhosa.
MS SEROKE: Now, as you are married, were you able to relate this to your husband or tell your husband of the treatment that you received at the hands of the police?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, I was able to talk to my husband and it doesn't make him feel any good. At times when he sees policemen, he gets very angry. He's got this habit; anger against police, he has got this deep-founded hatred for the police.
MS SEROKE: We thank you very much, Joyce.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Joyce. I am just going to ask you a few questions. You said that although there were 22 women there, only six of you were arrested. Were the six of you kept together?
MS MARUBINI: The ones that were arrested were 22, but we were more than 22 in that hall, but the arrested ones were 22.
CHAIRPERSON: And were the women kept together?
MS MARUBINI: Yes, that is correct.
CHAIRPERSON: So all of you were in fact stripped naked and sjambokked. Were all six - were all the women in fact beaten by the police.
MS MARUBINI: Yes, that is correct. We were all assaulted. All the women who were there were assaulted.
CHAIRPERSON: And you also mentioned in your evidence that later on there was a certain doctor who helped you and in fact photographs were taken of what had been done. After this matter; did anything happen; Were the police charged in this matter for the assault?
MS MARUBINI: No, they were not charged, because we were not even able to go to doctors for treatment, because they used to keep watch on us.
CHAIRPERSON: And so nothing in fact actually happened after this matter?
MS MARUBINI: That is correct. Ever since our lawyer told us that he would come back and tell us as to what was going to be done thereafter, but he never came back to us.
CHAIRPERSON: Do you receive any treatment for your arm now? You mentioned that your arm doesn't work properly.
MS MARUBINI: Yes, I do receive treatment. I do go to a doctor.
CHAIRPERSON: And inside, mentally, how do you feel about the experience that you've gone through?
MS MARUBINI: I don't feel very well. I'm highly stressed. Whenever I think about what happened to me, I feel very angry at being so helpless and not having been able to defend myself or do something about it.
I'm angry at the attorney who didn't do anything and who didn't come and give us a report-back and my doctor diagnosed me as suffering from meningitis. I was once admitted for four years, suffering from meningitis.
CHAIRPERSON: I see. Thank you. Thank you very much for sharing you story with us. We certainly, we do have the name of the attorney and we'll try and find out what actually happened on your matter.
But we're very glad that you've come to share your story with us. We will make certain recommendations to Government and we hope that these sort of beatings don't take place again. But it's very - we need to know all of these things that happened, even in the far regions which this province serves and we're very glad that we've had you here today. Thank you very much for coming.
Thank you. We will now break for lunch and we'll resume at quarter past two.