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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 09 June 1997

Location CAPE TOWN

Day 1


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DR BORAINE: I call the next witness, Ms Felicia Ngwevusha, who is going to come and tell her story about Rebecca and I am going to hand over to Ms Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela who will facilitate this particular witness. But we are very glad to see you, you are most welcome. We hope you will feel very relaxed and feel as though you are amongst friends. Thank you. I have just been reminded that you haven't been sworn in and I will ask Mary Burton to do that now. Thank you.

MS BURTON: Mrs Ngwevusha, are you hearing me properly through your ear-phones? Please will you stand to take the oath?

FELICIA NGWEVUSHA: (Duly sworn, states).

MS BURTON: Thank you very much. Please sit down.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: (Not interpreted).

MS NGWEVUSHA: Firstly, I would ask everybody to pray God to give me strength because I know it is going to be difficult for me to say this. It was 19(?) at the end of October, when it was during the day on that day. I felt drowsy and then I lie down. I was at the shacks at Crossroads when this group that was led by Yamile. Whilst I was lying there, about an hour thereafter, a small girl came in, who used to stay with my sister. It was a neighbour's daughter and she woke me up because her mother has been hurt and now she is being taken to be burnt. So I rose, I got up. I didn't even put on my shoes because I didn't feel anything. When I got up I went with this child and I lost energy, but I prayed God to give me strength, because I didn't know what I was going to see ahead of me. When I got there and I could see her clothes and there was blood spattered and I was about to scream. A neighbour took me to the house and pleaded with me not to identify myself as her sister, because I would also be injured.

What has happened, she came with a leader of this group who was Jerry and another man called Radebe, who was her friend, coming to collect her clothes, because she was going to the township because there was - life was difficult for him. So she had come to take these clothes, because she didn't want stay there any more, she wanted to go to the township. So she came with Jerry and Radebe and they were chasing them, because they wanted to kill them. These two ran away and she remained. Then they said okay, you also know everything. So they took her and took a hammer. They hit her on her skull, gouged her ears and took them out, cut her stomach. I don't know what happened to the child, but they opened the child and hurting her, and then they took her, put her on a towel sheet and burnt her. And that's when I came, there was smoke, and the neighbour said to me if you can withstand that, you can go back, never identify yourself. Because I wanted to save myself, I don't want you to go there because they will also say, if I tell you, they will say I am an informer. So I said well, I am going to go and tell friends because the people that don't even want anyone coming here.

I was very heartsore, because I didn't know what they are going to do with her, because I didn't know what to say to her children. So I left. I went to look for friends and the gentleman next to me and other friends, which was a very sad moment for me, because they were not there. I had to explain to them what had happened. I had to explain to them what had happened because they were not there. They were at the hostels.

So I walked. I was without shoes and I was not even aware, realising it when I was already at Guguletu that I did not have shoes. So I looked for them and I met them and I explained to them that my sister is deceased, and she has been hurt to death and she was burnt. We went to the police at Guguletu station, and we asked for help just to go and collect the remains there so that we could be able to bury them. When we were there, the police said if you can't deal with your own people, what do you expect us to do. We spent some time and until sunset and then they said go and sleep, we will come and see tomorrow morning and see what we can do.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Okay, Felicia, it is difficult, we know it is difficult, we understand. Just take your time.

MS NGWEVUSHA: The following morning when we were trying to go and collect her, because we just wanted the remains, so that we could take her home. Now we discover that the police had taken her but we don't know who went with the police, but there were some people who knew her and they did try to take her to the mortuary, but we didn't know which mortuary it was. The people who were there were scared to meet us. So we went around looking at the mortuaries and found her at Salt River. Where I was not even able to look at her, because at that stage I was still 22 years old, very young. I didn't have the strength to look at her. So I asked my brother, cousin to look at her, just to confirm it was her. Then I was asked as a sister to sign. We stayed there for a week and then we went to fetch her to bury her in Butterworth at home.

When we came back, because I knew I was not going to - I didn't know who I was going to report to, because I didn't know these people and I was - they were a group, so it was quiet for a while.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Where were your parents at that time, Felicia?

MS NGWEVUSHA: They had already been deceased.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: And now are you the only one, were you the only ones, you and your sister?

MS NGWEVUSHA: It was myself only who was here at the time. My sister was at her married home. I was the one who was here.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: You were still very young to face a terrible sight like that. How did you manage to carry this burden at that age, on the first day?

MS NGWEVUSHA: It was very bad on the first day. It was like the sun had set during the day. I didn't know, I didn't feel anything, I just didn't know who I was and where I was.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: And when you went to the police station, you first say you even didn't know that you were without your shoes, you were just out of your mind?

MS NGWEVUSHA: It was like that. I was still trying to look for people who could accompany me to the police station, because I have never been to the police station inside. I have seen it from outside. It was the first time that I attended there.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: It must have been difficult for you to see your sister, to deny your sister? It must have been very difficult.

MS NGWEVUSHA: Yes, it was difficult, it was very sad for me, because I didn't even have to speak to her people and people who were close to her, because they didn't even have to appear to show that they saw me and informed. Just to save their lives, but they were also saving mine.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: It shows that people who are neighbours out of fear, will not be able. I just want you to describe exactly what happened, who was your sister's boyfriend?

MS NGWEVUSHA: It was the man Radebe.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: What was Radebe's position in the organisation?

MS NGWEVUSHA: He was one of the committees. He was one of the committees. And Jerry was the leader. He was in charge of one of the satellite camps?


MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: And Radebe was your sister's boyfriend and he was just a committee member?


MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Of this group? Since the satellite camps, you mentioned in your statement that you were living in a camp that was under Yamile.


MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: And Jerry? I am trying to find out which side Jerry was. Which side was Jerry? Was it Yamile's group or was he on the side of the Witdoeke? Gumane's side, Gumane who was the overall leader of the other side and Yamile on the other side, which side was Jerry?

MS NGWEVUSHA: I am not very clear whether he was under Yamile or not, but as I said, I didn't want to get involved myself in those quarrels, because it was then, it was the first time that I had an insight, when they were explained to me afterwards. Otherwise, before then, I didn't know how close they were to each other.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: But according to what you observed, why do you think Jerry got the accusation that he was an informer?

MS NGWEVUSHA: From what I hear, he was a leader and then there was some moneys that were paid to him and that's where the trouble started. Then he went away, packed his things and went away. I don't know for what reason, but he removed himself, he dismantled himself after this conflict. And my sister says that she couldn't stay there because her shack was also dismantled. So she decided to go to the township. So she is was asked who are you going with. And then she said she was going with Jerry, and this, the people that were being chased, and when the two ran away, they took her. MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: They took her because they didn't get Jerry and this other man?


MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: Let me just ask you. You said you don't remember whether it was money. There were two groups there. There were two things there. It was misuse of funds and the other reason was that there were people who sent out a message, notices that they should go to Khayelitsha, and most residents didn't like that. I would like to know whether could it be this second reason, which made him to be suspected as an informer? In your memory, are there any papers that Jerry signed that his group was prepared to go to Khayelitsha? Is there anything you remember about that?

MS NGWEVUSHA: No, I don't have any knowledge of this but I do know that we were fighting about going to Khayelitsha and not going to Khayelitsha. So those who agreed fought with those who didn't agree. But where he belonged, I don't know. Whether he was of the group that wanted to go or the others that didn't want to.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: But in your knowledge, the people who agreed to go to Khayelitsha used to be accused of being the informers?

MS NGWEVUSHA: Yes. Anyone who was prepared to go there was said to be an informer.

MS GOBODO-MADIKIZELA: I am going to hand over to our chairman. Thank you.

DR BORAINE: Thank you very much. Could I ask, your sister who was very brutally murdered, was there ever any court case or any investigation or any inquest by the courts or by the police about her death? Can you remember?

MS NGWEVUSHA: A white policeman came to take a statement at Guguletu and asked me about my sister, if I knew her and seeing that I had signed. I told him that was my sister. Then he asked me questions. He asked me if she was pregnant. I said yes. He asked me for how long. I said I didn't know how many months and then it ended there. I never met any person from the law-enforcement.

DR BORAINE: Thank you very much. I would like to ask whether my colleagues would like to put any other questions to you. Prof Meiring?

PROF MEIRING: Felicia, I have one question to ask you. After this horrible thing that happened to you, did you yourself receive any treatment, did anybody help you to cope with your emotions to work through everything that happened to your family?

MS NGWEVUSHA: I can't remember his name, because I couldn't sleep at night and I would be crying the whole night.

PROF MEIRING: What sort of help did he give you, did he talk with you through everything that happened, did they give you medicine to help you sleep at night?

MS NGWEVUSHA: He gave me some medicines and tablets and injected me also.

DR BORAINE: On behalf of our panel we would like to express our appreciation to you for coming. We realise that to think back over those 10 years or more, is very painful and we hope that telling your story and just remind all of us and the community what a very high price was paid for the democracy and the greater peace that we have now, will be of some assistance to you and that some healing will come to you as well. Thank you very much for coming and go well.

MS NGWEVUSHA: Thank you.

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