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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 04 February 1997
Names JOSEPH TITUS MAZIBUKO
Case Number JB02623/03ERKWA
MR J T MAZIBUKO: Yes, actually, this incident, right, is not my incident or I was not injured. So, this is a group thing, basically. Right. May I introduce John Emlangeni who was also involved in this booby trap issue and this is my cousin Valley Mazibuko who was also involved and this is Cedric Tokizane Lala who, then Goza Humphrey Tshabalala.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: Yes, from the sheet I have here, as an individual and they were never informed and they did make statements. So in order to avoid duplication we thought it is better if we appear as a group.
CHAIRPERSON: That is fine. Okay, we accept that, we welcome them and we hope they have made statements. Please do not feel neglected or do not feel unrecognised, the fact that you have made the statements, you are just as great as Titus. Now I am going to leave Titus to Mrs Joyce Seroke
MRS SEROKE: I greet you John Nhlanhla Buthelezi. Could you please stand up so that you can take the oath. You said your name is Titus. I am sorry, Titus Joseph Mazibuko. It is Titus Joseph Mazibuko. Our documents were mixed up, but we have already sorted that out. So I shall request you to stand up so that you can take the oath.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: Well, as I have already explained it was in 1985 and at that time the whole country was in turmoil and Duduza, in particular, had a problem. It was part of the ongoing struggle at that time. There were no police at that time who were in Duduza. Even though the police were not present in Duduza at that time, there were certain forces operating during the night and these forces were mainly bent on killing the people operating. Today we do not have Saneli Tobela and today we also do not have Alex Balene. All those people were attacked by hit squad. The Tobela home was attacked and Sonto Tobela was our Secretary at the time and Saneli was additional member of COSAS and, when their house was attacked Sonto died instantly. Alexander Balene was murdered by that hit squad which was operating in the location. To confirm that there was a hit squad, there was a City Press article which showed that more leaders were to follow in the killings. They also had a list of names and some of the names which appeared then are present today and as it was still like that there was Congress Mashweni which was from Kwatema and through that Congress as well as through Valley, Valley is my cousin, he is sitting on my right-hand side, and that there were MK members who were actually prepared to offer us some
in terms of weapons. So we wholeheartedly accepted, accepted his offer and that event co-incided with the statement from ANC in exile saying that it will now train ANC cadres inside the country and duty operation, we were prepared to liberate our country by all means necessary. So through Valley who was the local co-ordinator, these guys came, Mike, James and they said they will offer us weapons to defend ourselves and the community. They offered us crash training, crash course training whereby we were taken to a mine dump. We were three groups, basically, that was Duduza, Sakane and Kwatema and we gave those people, Mike and James, our names and addresses.
We went there and they demonstrated with the first hand grenade and we were, he threw the first one to show us how to throw it as well as the second one which was thrown by Valley and at the very same time we were told that we should choose our targets, that was on a Monday, preparing for attack on Tuesday, midnight. Each and every township had its group, from each township had to choose its own target and attack at 12 o' clock. So we met as a group and chose, we chose Stiff Namane's house as well as David Namane who were brothers. The reason we chose these two people were that Stiff Namane was a councillor, an apartheid councillor. David was implicated in these hit squad attacks and his brother too. So, basically, at the time the community saw them as people or as obstacles towards our achievement of our goal.
nevertheless they said they are all the same, the instructions are the same. So, coming back at training, we were shown how to throw a grenade. You hold a grenade, you count three times, you pull the pin is one, is two, then Maponza is three. So, on Tuesday we went to our respective targets. When we got there 12 midnight we launched an attack. We followed the instructions correctly and Sonto, and all of us at that time, but when we counted at one, by that time, at that time I was lying flat on the floor and thereafter I realised that I was full of blood and I had to run to Sandile Conrad house and ask for help and at the time I thought I had made the mistake.
When I got to Sandile's car, I got John Emlangeni, same injuries. Then we went to Natalspruit Hospital. That is when the security forces caught us and we were detained and discharged, but during our stay at hospital our families came and told us some of the people were weak, have fallen and that, in itself, proved that sinister forces were involved because people from Kwatema, Sakane and Duduza, were involved in this case, died and the targets that were meant, our targets, are still alive. So, we realised that this is the hit squad that we were trying to run away from. So, these people, all I can say, they were highly organised. So we were charged, we went to court, we went to prison and we were found guilty and there is not even a single person who came forward to explain and we were found guilty.
MRS SEROKE: Titus, you have explained that when you started you, as a group, were engaged in certain specific structures and you were mainly involved with education and you were doing this through school boycotts, stay aways and the like. Now, when you realised that you were working in this manner
MR J T MAZIBUKO: Okay, I could say that we were a product of 1984 and at the time, that I have already explained to you, that the whole country was in turmoil and we realised that we could only get our liberation through violence and we had to speed up the process of liberating the country. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: So, and at that time people were getting killed and they were getting killed right in front of our own eyes and we could not just sit back as the youth because we knew that we were the oppressed masses and we had to show that we did not want to be oppressed and, as I have already mentioned Sonto Tobela, that he got killed, Saneli Tobela and quite a number of those that I have already counted and it was.
MRS SEROKE: Now, when you defined your targets, as you have already explained in your statement, you said that your targets was that you were against apartheid councillors as well as vigilante groups. What was troubling you about those groups, why did you specifically choose them to be your targets? What is it that they actually did?
MR J T MAZIBUKO: As you can see we are in 1997. Today I can speak to a member of the council or a councillor or hug him, but during that time I could not do that because these people were not democratically elected and they were doing nothing for the community and these were the people who were chosen from the community, because they shared the same idealogies with the apartheid regime and what I can say is that these people were collaborators. They did not want us to get the new South Africa that we are in today and quite a number of them are happy today because they are enjoying the benefits and the privileges of a new South Africa. At that time we explained through staging boycotts and mass campaigns, but they never responded. The vigilantes were also against our people and they conducted a reign of terror, they conducted a reign of terror in the community.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: I think you have used a wrong word when you say "eliminate". We did not want to eliminate them, but since it was our first operation at that time, we had to practice and form a foundation so that we could get use to using the grenades so that even if in the future we launched other attacks, we would be able to do so.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: So, we were using them as targets for practice. Their houses were not occupied at that time when we bombed them because at that time the township had been rendered ungovernable and the councillors had vacated their houses. So, at that time their houses were empty and we thought it symbolical to go and attack the councillor's houses so as to send a message that we were prepared for a counter attack.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: As I have already explained, they said it was a crash course just to be able to use hand grenades and the instructions were very simple. We believed that we knew everything that had to be done.
MRS SEROKE: You have also explained that the grenades that were given to you thereafter were quite different from the ones that were used during the demonstrations. Did you ever give yourselves a chance to ask them as to why these differed?
MR J T MAZIBUKO: Let me say they were very clever because at that time they were organised into a group and we asked them, but the answer that we got from them was that, basically, the same instructions were going to be used. We had to count one, two three and there would be a loud bang.
MR J T MAZIBUKO: I did not see him personally, because at that time we went to the training he was wearing a balaclava, but, according to the statements that I got from Valley, was that he had contact with the Congress in Tema and they have confirmed that he is the one.
MR V MAZIBUKO: I can point out that quite a number of things were covered up by Titus. That is with regard to the incident itself as that is what we referred to as the zero hundred hour, that is from the media as well as through the confessions of Mamasela, but the picture that I want to paint before this Commission was the situation that prevailed at that time as well as the reason for the targeting of most of the people that got involved later on in the squads, that is in Duduza, Sakane as well as Kwatema. When this took place, as Titus had already explained, that it was between 1984 and 1985, the situation was such that we realised that the areas within the Vaal, there was an outbreak of boycotts and Duduza was not an exception at that time and the way Duduza took up the struggle in February 1985 was such that we were staging demonstrations against the bucket system. The organisation that was prominent at that time was not the Civic Organisation. The Civic Association of Duduza was being pushed by COSAS and this resulted in the fact that most of the civic leaders in Duduza were aligning themselves more with COSAS, because the structure itself had problems in functioning and in the boycott that was staged with regard to the bucket system, many people who took part were members of the COSAS. That is in 1985 I was a Chairperson of the COSAS in Duduza and John Emlangeni was the Secretary, the Publicity Secretary of COSAS and Tokizane Lala was working as an Executive and Humphrey Tshabalala was involved in Entertainment Committee.
Comrade Congress was a Chairperson of the COSAS in Kwatema and he was coming back from the Sasol Organisation and ASASO which was working closely with COSAS and he was coming from the University of Zululand and he use to fill us in with regard to the struggle so that we could continue. At that time the situation that prevailed was that Comrade Ngungun Yani, who also died in that incident, was also a former Chairperson of the COSAS. Machodi was also an Executive member heading the Cultural Desk of COSAS and Comrade Osborn Lamini was one of the Comrades who were dealing with disciplinary measures against members.
What I am trying to highlight before this Commission is the calibre of the targets and Joe Mamasela thought that he could wipe the leadership of COSAS so that we could be left with a vacuum. So, as the reign of terror was conducted it became well known as to who their targets were. The situation after the bucket system was that a certain boy was shot and it was COSAS which was prominent in that area. After that boy had been shot, that is Lucky Nkwinazi, thereafter there were certain incidents that took place that followed each other which led to Duduza being ungovernable and after Lucky Nkwinazi had been shot and just before a funeral could be arranged, more than 20 members of the COSAS group were arrested. They were charged with public violence and following that myself and Comrade John as well as the other ones I am sitting with, we were detained under Section 50, that is the Internal Security Act. We were told that we were furthering the aims of a banned organisation. We stayed there for 14 days in detention. Some of us were tortured, some were assaulted and some were injured and we
Thereafter the white people realised that, let me just divert and go out of the issue, talk with regard to Titus's issue and the Tobela family. Comrade Sonto Tobela was a Secretary for the COSAS group. She was an additional member and Mr Tobela himself was our co-worker because apart from being a member, I was a student's committee member which was dealing mainly with regard to age restrictions with regard to admission of students at certain schools. We were also fighting for the rights of SRC members. These members were also detained under the Section 50 of Internal Security Act and when they were released and when Mr Tobela's house was attacked, that is when Sonto was killed and comrade Saneli. This brought here in the community that these forces, that Titus had referred to as the forces of darkness, were not prepared to arrest people only. They even wanted to move a whole mile so our lives were at stake at that time and we needed a mechanism in order to be able to defend ourselves as well as members of the community.
During April and May we started mobilising ourselves as the COSAS members to try and get a strategy in order to fend off the attacks as well as the rule of apartheid and we were also a Congress of Students and we were coming from different homes which were being effected by social problems like rent, so we could not divorce ourselves from what was happening within the community itself. So, COSAS, apart from fighting for students rights, they moved beyond that and they focused on issues or social issues that prevailed within the community at that time. When we realised that
our members were now being killed we started getting scared and we wanted to devise some mechanisms to fend off the attacks and we later on got to know that we were in the hit list and we were supposed to be eliminated as the targets of the system. We later decided that we had to fend off the attacks in some way, that is when Congress Mashweni approached me and explained to me that there were certain people who had already approached him with regard to fending off the attacks, but the people who came to approach him were told that they should come to me together with that person.
I would like that to be put through to this Commission that these people came saying they were members of the MK and they were instructed to go to Congress, because Congress was close to me and Congress had to come straight to me. In 1985 there was a directive from the ANC in exile that certain units from the Umkhonto we Sizwe would not be trained outside the country, but they would be trained inside the country and so we realised that we were going to be the first group that was going to be trained within the country. When Congress came with the people and having briefed me that these people were coming from the MK camps and they were fully trained and they were going to train us as well to be part of the Umkhonto we Sizwe which was going to be trained within the country to defend ourselves against the vigilantes so that we can hit where it has most and the Government or the system.
At that time I did not want to question their behaviour or the manner in which the directive came because it actually co-incided with a statement that was made by the ANC earlier on, that they were going to train people within
the country and that is why I never actually bothered myself to ask many questions. We welcomed these people as Comrades in Duduza and we said to them we were prepared that we should be trained in order to fend off the attacks from the vigilantes in order to protect the community. That is what culminated to the incident that we are talking about today. What Titus said just now is important that where we targeted, these houses were no longer occupied.
I want to be honest in one other aspect that in Duduza, as Titus has already mentioned, that at that time Duduza was the first area to be rendered ungovernable in the East Rand and Duduza was amongst the first, there were no police around, there was no one representing the situation, police or security officers within Duduza. Probably, that is what actually caused Duduza to be rendered ungovernable because there were no Government officers within the area itself.
MR V MAZIBUKO: Balaclava, no, when he came to me he was not wearing a balaclava. He came to me with Congress. Congress is the one who actually directed them to me. Then they came to my place to look for me.
MRS SEROKE: Now, to conclude, we have seen the struggle that COSAS has been through to try to liberate the country. Now, we are proud that we are in a new South Africa. Now, as members of the then COSAS, are you going to be as committed as you were during that struggle? Are you going to be as committed in the process of reconciliation?
MR V MAZIBUKO: May I just make this clear that this process of reconciliation is what really causes us to be free to come together to be able to be a rainbow nation. Now, that was all about freedom. These are the results of fighting for freedom and today we are all the same, we are all equal, but the question I want to bring forth to the Commission is that somehow this may come to forgiving and forgetting. To be honest with the Commission is that what happened to us is hard to forgive, it is hard to forget also. For instance, as we sitting before this Commission there are some members of us who are not here and, all of us, we are maimed in some way and we can also point out that each and every one of us has a stigma attached. For instance, people always act, refer to us as Valley, the who without a hand and Sipho, the one who has got missing fingers. This leaves a picture that is always painted and that will never ever disappear. It becomes very difficult for us.
Maybe Mamasela represented certain forces that could not be shaken or removed, but I want to point it out that Mamasela made a mistake, you see. The masses of the people like J Bona, if probably organised they can trample on to anything, that was the mistake that he made, but honestly speaking, forgiving and forgetting is very hard for us.
MR V MAZIBUKO: I would not like to comment about that. I would like to leave that open because as we are sitting here, we managed to survive, we are survivors and we owe to the parents of the people that we were with, that is the
people who died, even if Mamasela can be brought to book, the damage that he did was irreparable and there is no way it can be reversed. So, that is why I really cannot be in a position to comment, but this little that I have said, maybe, I think it covers it somehow.
DR ALLY: That was a very helpful account and you have also given us a very good idea of the context, what was happening, of your motives, how you saw the struggle at the time, because those are things that we are going to have to put into the final report and that testimony has helped us to understand some of these issues. I want to ask you very specific questions which will help us to try and complete this picture. The first is, is James, we know that Mike was Joe Mamasela, do you have any idea as to who James was, any one of the five of you?
MR V MAZIBUKO: We do not know who James is, but we were always trying to find out together with Captain Holmes from the Investigating Units, from the office of the Attorney-General. They were actually trying to investigate as to who James is and, to be honest, that we do get dribs and drabs of information that it could be Inkala, but we are not positive as to who actually James is. So we are leaving this to the hands of the Investigating Office to go on further with the investigations and as Mamasela has already applied for amnesty, there is a clause of full disclosure.
MR V MAZIBUKO: Alright, let me leave Mamasela out of the whole issue. All these other people he was working with, that is the Brigadiers, the Generals as well as the others who have asked for amnesty with regard to this case. Commissioner, General van der Merwe also said that he was involved, he knew about the whole thing. The other Colonels who are involved, Dirk Coetzee, that is in terms of the full disclosure clause, we hope that they could tell us as to who the second or the third person was. We would like them to shed light on that, that is the person who gave them a direct contact to Congress, because they did not know him personally. So, somebody must have given them or shed some light as to who Congress was. They had to wipe him off.
DR ALLY: And then earlier this morning we heard the testimony about Vincent who was killed in Kwatema. You mentioned that there were three groups. There was the Duduza group, the Kwatema Group, was Vincent, do you know that name, was he part of the group in Kwatema? You heard the testimony earlier this morning.
MR V MAZIBUKO: Like, when we got injured, for reasons Titus, as he has already explained, that himself and John were taken to Natalspruit Hospital as well as myself, when I got injured, I thought I had made a mistake and I ran home to try and get some transport to ferry me to the hospital. I was not aware that I had lost my fingers. I just hurt as if I had broken my ribs, I felt like my ribs were broken and I was having short breath and blood was oozing out of my mouth as I was running. I discovered at a later stage that my fingers were missing and I was bleeding. When I got home I was take to Polo Park, I thought I was the only one who was injured and when I got to Polo Park I got Humphrey as well as Baai, who is not present at the moment, that is when I realised that there is a problem. We had been conned, we were arrested immediately and I remember one policeman who came in at the hospital and said, oh, this is the man from Zimostraat, this is correct. Which means they were satisfied with what they did to us and the following day we received a message, we got to know through the Press as well as newspapers, which were being read by the police, that Vincent had died in the incident.
DR ALLY: And just a last question. Just before you came to the stand we had the sister of Maki Skhosana speaking about what happened to her after this incident. Is there any light that you can shed on this matter, on the allegations, the accusations, why Maki Skhosana was targeted. Is there
MR V MAZIBUKO: From our group, Maki was never involved and we have got absolutely no knowledge of what happened and immediately this took place we were arrested under Section 29 and we were detained for nine months and all the things that were happening outside in the location, were not known to us, but with regard to our case is concerned, even our very closest friends, they never knew, because we thought we were definitely within the MK operations. Everything was circulating around us, no one except us knew what was happening.
MR LEWIN: Could I just ask two small questions. You mentioned earlier that the announcement came in a statement from the ANC overseas to say that people were going to be trained inside. Where did you get that information? Was it in the papers or how did you get it?
MR V MAZIBUKO: Well, yes, as a starting point, it appeared in the newspapers, but secondly what I would like to mention is there was material that was circulating around within the organisation and as an organisation there was what was known as "bent literature" and we had access to it. That is how we got to know, that we knew what were the resolutions that had been taken at the conference, because we needed to update ourselves in terms of.
MR LEWIN: Okay, then could I ask just a second point, because you have obviously thought about this a great deal. Vincent was killed by his booby trapped hand grenade, all of you were injured which suggests that the booby trap was not as well done as it was for him. Have you thought about this at all? Do you have any comments on it? You should have
MR V MAZIBUKO: I would not know how to put this. Besides Vincent there were other people who were killed in Duduza besides Vincent. When we talk about Vincent, we speak about Tema. I am speaking about Duduza. In Duduza there were nine people and presently the people remaining are five. Same Russian made hand grenade was handed over, RGD5 hand grenade. They gave us ten hand grenades and the last one they gave us after we had been arrested, they had to take it away from and be taken to Priscilla Jana so that they could see as to what exactly took place. That is when it was discovered that the grenade was doctored.
CHAIRPERSON: Titus and the whole lot of you and those who are not here, we thank you very much for having been here to share with us, more so that you share with us collectively. We are sorry for the limbs you have lost, but we are deeply sorry for those of your mates who have died in the cause of the struggle. You are young, you are healthy, each time you look at your missing limbs, should be a reminder of what was involved. You have a nation to unite, you have a nation to build, over and above you have a nation to develop.
What lies before you is hard work and all these things are going to be healed and made useful as you daily glean, that is you gather the information behind all what took place. It is difficult to forget, it is difficult to forgive, but I think a store of information about what transpired should give you the strength and the forgetting and the forgiving will be processes and one major process that you are going to be involved in is the one of reconciliation. We thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We are at a time when we must break for lunch. Once more, we shall request the witnesses to stand, order, order, order please. Order. We will come back at two, we will come back at two. Thank you.