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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 07 February 1997
Names MBEMBEZANA MLOTSHWA
Case Number VOSLOORUS
DR RANDERA: Mr Molotshwa, you too live in Tokoza and we are going to December in 1990 and also a few months later, in December of 1990 your brother Ntembikose Mlotshwa was shot and killed and so was your brother in law Tom Buthelezi, I think. All three people who were shot and killed were members of the IFP. Can you tell us what happened?
MR MLOTSHWA: On the 3rd of December 1990, I was with my brother who was staying inside the hostel and I was leasing a room, then on a Monday morning we heard some gun shots. And as a person who was staying in the area I went out and tried to enquire as to what was happening. I saw my brother standing at the gate with a bag and I indicated to him that he should go back because he was preparing himself for work, and during the day, not actually during the day but at about 8 o'clock we saw some people approaching from a direction and a caspar with boers inside who went around shooting at random, and some people had fallen, some had been injured and some had died. I decided to go into the house and it approached a group of people and they shot all these people. That's when I decided to run into the yard. After some time somebody came to tell me that my brother had been injured and I went to enquire. I discovered that my brother had been killed and went to the Tokoza Police Station to report and they said I must go to Katlehong because they don't deal with hostel dwellers cases. I took my other brother to go to the police station at Katlehong, I reported the matter and they asked me as to where he was, to which I replied that he was at the hostel. They said that they wouldn't go to the hostel as they were scared of the hostel dwellers because they were armed.
I went to the mortuary, Mr Sugaza's mortuary and asked them to go and pick my brother's body up because he had died already. He asked me why I hadn't gone to Tokoza Police Station and when I explained the problem I encountered he said he would try to go to the hostel but if the police didn't take the body there was nothing that he could do but anyway he would try to retrieve the body from the hostel. We went together to the hostel and took my brother's body and I later on heard that my brother in law had also been injured and had been taken by the military caspar. I was not able to go out at the time because I didn't know what was going to happen to me.
The following day, Tuesday the 4th of December, I went to the mortuary and I was told that he had been taken to the government mortuary and I got there before they could conduct a post mortem. I looked for my brother in law to no avail and I went to the police who said they did not know his whereabouts. I went to the hospital but I could not get him and I kept on looking for my brother in law until I decided to go to Natalspruit Hospital and that's where I got him. I saw that he had been shot in the head and when I asked what had happened from the nurses they said that the bullet had actually grazed his head and I went away leaving him at the hospital.
Then on the 13th I went to the hospital and found that he was better and I went home and on checking upon him again I found that he had improved and I left him because I was preparing to go home on the 14th and he told me that the doctor said he would discharge him on that very same day. I went back to the hospital to fetch him only to discover that he had died and as he had actually improved earlier on I did not understand he died when he was just about to be discharged. This situation disturbed me because I was the one who had to go and tell his parents that he had died in such a gruesome manner.
After telling the parents they weren't able to come down to Johannesburg for the burial and I was left in Natal. They came to Johannesburg to fetch the body and I had to pay the expenses and I did not know how he died because he survived the attack, his condition improved but as to what killed him later on is what still disturbs me even now and I took his body. Then in 1993 I was with my other brother in law who had come to visit me and my brother was also with his own brother in law. I heard some gunshots where I stay at the residential area and go to the hostel at times to do my hand work. Later on I heard that my other brother in law had been shot, I think it was in August. It was rumoured that he had been shot by certain youths and I went to discover that he had been killed. I phoned my brother in law who was in Benoni and we made preparations for nim to be buried. When he was lying on the ground the police didn't want to come and it was only on the following day that his body was taken and we made arrangements for him to be transported to our home in Natal so that he could be buried.
At times I would be asked by my relatives as to what was going on, is there any case that has been opened, but I would tell them that the police are not coming to me to report on the progress of the case.
DR RANDERA: Okay I just want to ask, to remind ourselves of that time that Mr Molotshwa, on December the 2nd 1990, 30 people died in Tokoza and it's alleged that there was an attack by hostel dwellers on the residents. Do you remember that?
DR RANDERA: Sorry I'm just trying to complete the picture because I'm sorry to have heard about your brother and your brothers in law, but I think we just need to understand what was happening, there was a war situation. As I said 30 people actually died, residents of Tokoza who were attacked by hostel dwellers on the second of December. On the 3rd of December another 19 people died and this time it was because Phola Park residents attacked hostel dwellers. By the fourth of December it is said that 85 people were dead. So in two days 85 people died and it is in that atmosphere that your brother and your brother in law got killed, is that right?
MR MLOTSHWA: That is what I heard but since I'm not interested in that I'm talking about my own side of the story. I don't want to tell you about something that I do not know or something that I've heard of, I'm telling you about my own experience.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Molotshwa, thank you for coming. We understand your wanting to come here and to speak about what happened to your family, to your immediate relatives, your brother and your brothers in law and that's your right, that is what the Truth Commission is for. It's for those who have experienced gross human rights violations, who've lost loved ones, who have been tortured themselves and out of the conflict of the past to actually come and speak about those experiences, and we appreciate you coming and sharing those experiences because they are not always easy to speak about. But I think you must also appreciate the job that we have to do, that while we clearly sympathise with what has happened to you personally, there is a need for us, if we're going to do our job properly to try and understand the background against which these violations took place, the context, the different political motives, the political perspectives and the reason why that's important for our work is because we have to make recommendations at end of the life of the Commission, and we also have to try and ensure that mechanisms are put in place which can prevent this kind of thing happening again because I don't think any of us would want to live through that kind of past, those conflicts, those deaths. And that's the spirit in which the questions which were put to you were asked to try and understand the context.
But we appreciate you coming, especially given that you have openly stated that your political allegiances are largely with the IFP and we need to hear what has happened to IFP members who were also caught up. Thank you very much for coming and for sharing and we're hoping as I've said to other witnesses that we will be able quite soon present a report which will give a better picture and a better understanding of what was happening in this part of our country during this period in the 1980's and particularly the 1990's. Thank you for coming to share your experiences with us.