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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 07 February 1997
Names ALBERT NKUNA
Case Number JB01700/01 VOSLOORUS
CHAIRPERSON: Hugh Lewin is going to assist you but before you begin I just want to point out that the case that you are coming to speak about, the incident took place on January the 13th 1994. I just want to remind people that the original dates which were stipulated in the Act, the period which the Commission would cover, was 1960 until 1993, but a decision has been taken to extend that period so that the cut off date now is no longer 1993 December, but the 10th of May 1994, and it is because of that that we are able to hear Albert's case, so it's important for people who actually want to make statements to remember that the period now covered by the Commission is 1960 until 10th of May 1994 and anyone who believes that they have suffered a gross human rights violation between that period, those years, should feel free to make a statement to the Truth Commission.
MR LEWIN: And what you're going to tell us about is this incident that took place in January 1994, it's probably one of the most recent cases we have heard at a hearing. We'd like to welcome you here and I think if you could, because it again involves the question of SDU's and ISU's, if you could just briefly, in your own words explain to us what was an SDU, what is an SDU so that we're clear about that and then tell us your story? Thank you.
MR NKUNA: The people we are talking about are people who represented the community, fighting for the community's rights. They are protecting their parents and we referred to them as people who were therefore our parents. I was one of them because there were so many riots in the location, we had to stand up for our parents' protection. We safeguarded our parents until such time came that even the authorities got interested to come in and see how much damage happened and that caused. I will show you even the picture from this article here so I show you that made the Joe Slovo and Ramaphosa came to see the area where people were fighting at.
They sent McBride to tell us that they've already heard that there were people who have gone back to their houses and they wanted to come and see how much damage, and repair that damage. Things that happened in the past won't happen again. We tried to stop everything but still there was still shooting at the hostels. I was a commander then of the ones who were fighting and we decided that I delegate authority amongst my people. ...(indistinct) and the people he was with wanted to take a turn, they started shooting suddenly. I therefore, and I have a cassette of what I'm talking about. I said things are getting out of control and the situation's getting volatile. Take cover and many of them have heard the word cover but some did not know about it. When I was telling them to take cover, demonstrating with the hands, and I turned around to look at the hostel, I saw a white gentleman and he had an R4 with him and I tried to run, and I saw photographers and one of them was shot and I picked him up, trying to save him running with him.
I went back now to the scene of the whole thing, I saw another lady who was already shot also and I tried to enlist help to her as well. I was using an AK and we said we've agreed that we shall come in but now what we should do is to go on and never go back because already there's been attacks and I lodged a counter attack as well. I will end there.
MR LEWIN: Could you also tell us what happened to you after that,? In your original statement you mentioned something that happened after when you were picked up by the ISU's. Do you want to tell us about that as well?
MR LEWIN: In your original statement you talked about the incident where you were protecting the leaders, Slovo Ramaphosa, Niehaus and McBride. You then said, after that you were approached and picked up by members of the ISU who wanted fire arms from you and then who took you away and did something to you in a house which you said was used as an office by the police in Newpark. Is that right?
MR NKUNA: That's why I said maybe I should go back to my story. When the police came on the 18th, the ones we had to visit came on the 16th, then on the 18th the police came. The three of us were in a shack and were discussing the fact that some were saying, Go and shave your hair and escape, and I said, No I want a disguise, I'm an African. Suddenly the boys came in and said that we should run away because the police were coming. I said it wouldn't help me to run away.
When they arrived I did not run away and they just approached me at my shack, and one of them is here, I told that they should not get out because I was the one who was going to get out. When I went out they pointed at me with their guns and I realised that if I turned my back on them they would shoot me from the back and they made me lie on the ground and told me that they want me to give them a certain gun that I used to shoot people at the hostel. I told them that I did not have a gun but they insisted that I was going to give them the gun. But said that I don't have any guns with me, I can go and look for the people or the person who has a gun. They went with me and they took me to the shack and we got into another shack, where I ended up saying, Oh no.... I was taken in to a car but I think I lost consciousness because I don't know what happened then but at about half past four I was in Alberton when I regained consciousness, and I saw lights on around.
They said to me, why did you defend the people that we're looking for? I said, no I did not defend them, I'm an African myself. After saying I'm an African, lo and behold, after uttering the word African, that's when the boers assaulted me. I tried to be strong and I failed because I was already injured by then. They took me to the hospital at Alberton and they said they mustn't leave me there because I was already dead. They took me to Germiston. On lady, I think she was a coloured lady, came and asked why they brought this already dead person here and want them to take the responsibility of this whole mess. The boers replied that they would take me with them again and they took me back to the caspar and drove off. They found out they've severely and brutally injured me.
I'm very sorry I disclose every truth. When I regained my consciousness I felt that my private parts were almost dead, not working, not functioning anymore and I was asking myself if the went on torturing when I was already dead or what's happening, I was completely lost. I was so much in pain because they had shocked me, they threw me in Heidelberg on a mountain there and I heard this noise of the caspar, as if it was taking off, leaving and I had no shoes on. I did try my best to wake up but I could not, and I felt much pain on my testicles.
I tried my best to wake up, I was struggling but somehow I managed because I told myself that maybe I should take everything slowly. I started walking slowly until I got to my place and I saw many people surrounding the house waiting for me. They wanted to know what had happened and where I had been. They said that I must be followed. That is what I was told by one of the people there. I said to them that I am an African and if they could donate money and send it to call me from jail that won't help.
I left the place and I was ungovernable then. I took my gun and I went back where I was injured and I thought I was going to console myself with the fact that I had been injured and injured for the truth by Inkatha against the community.
MR LEWIN: Thank you Mr Nkuna. If I could just please, I know it must be very painful for you, difficult for you to go back, but if I could just clarify a few things. You mentioned the police arriving with guns, this was on the 18th, and then you said you found yourself in the car and you were unconscious or you lost consciousness in the car. What happened between the time that the police arrived and you found yourself in the car, can you remember that? Did they attack you, did they hit you, how did you lose consciousness?
MR NKUNA: They assaulted me and it was not only one man, this guy that I'm pointing at, his right hand is not functioning any more because they assaulted both of us the most. They said we should take out all the guns that we were using the previous day and they started assaulting us. During the days before they were coming and saying they were looking for Nkuna. On other days they would come and ask me where Nkuna was and I would reply that he was not there. They would leave a message for Nkuna and I would say that I would see that he gets the message.
What I'm showing here on this newspaper article is what had happened that very day because they carried me and were looking at the paper and asking if this was the one, and after that they uttered that they should deal with this boy. I was the person who was assaulted the most. The other one was not so severely assaulted. Even now I asked him to come with me to the Truth Commission, but he refused because he was not severely assaulted.
MR LEWIN: Thank you and can you just give us a few more details about the subsequent torture, when you said you woke up, I mean how did they shock you, was there a special machine that they had? And where was this taking place?
MR NKUNA: That machine, the last time I saw it had two strings when I got into this room, not far away from Vosloorus, and I felt that my trousers were taken off and I tried to look and felt my testicles were hard and were poking me up here and I don't know how they got that far. When I tried to lift up my head they put through a piece of wood and I've given other statements before with regard to this. I struggled in the past, even today. However let me go further.
After that I could feel that my entire body was severely affected, I lost strength and I went to the doctor and I was taken there by some people in a car. He examined me and said that to push back my testicles into the right position would be very difficult but I should be taken to Baragwanath Hospital. I told him that I have tried my best to pump through the testicles so that they can move and get back into the right position, but I failed.
They took me to Baragwanath Hospital and just when we were trying to gain entry, they gave me tablets and I saw this boy who said I should look outside. Did I see those people out there? I said to myself that those were the very people that we were fighting against, and I'm very sorry to say this in the community and please pardon me! I said I will try and not sleep in this hospital but leave these premises now. I left that hospital after seeing those people and went back to the doctor who helped me before and I told him that I saw Inkatha members at the hospital and therefore decided not to sleep in that hospital and I therefore decided to come back to him.
I managed to escape back to the location and I did not even want to show what had happened to me and how I ran from the hospital to the community. People were saying, Nkuna is back, Nkuna is back, now what is being done?
I went back to the doctor and asked him to please help me as the gauge is heavy for me and when it's hot, extremely hot, I feel dizzy somehow. I see stars and he replied that I was probably not feeling well. I responded that I was just fine, I didn't think that I was sick. The doctor suggested that maybe we should take the papers and help me with letters to take to the social workers where I'd get better help.
MR LEWIN: There's no need to apologise, that's what you are here for and we're very grateful to you for having told us that. If you could just bring us up to date now. How do you feel, what effects have you had from that attack on you?
MR NKUNA: I have a wife at home and three children. I used to be a star to my wife and a real man but today I can't be a star anymore and be a strong man to her because of the atrocities that I underwent. I think I am sexually inactive, there is nothing that is exciting anymore now in our love life. I tell my wife to go and find a man out there who will be helpful to he because I don't feel sexually......(turn over tape)...... community and I underwent atrocities so that today I'm where I am. I can't do anything, I'm at home, I don't have any direction. That's why I say those who attacked me in 1993, we were still fighting with them up to 1994.
MR LEWIN: Mr Nkuna thank you very much. I'm going to ask Dr Randera who might have some further comments. Could I just ask one last question, going back to that to that incident, you mentioned that there was a photographer who was shot when he helped and there was one other lady. Do you have the name of that photographer? Was that the incident when Ken Oosterbrook was shot?
MR NKUNA: Africans, that's where I'll come back again and say the names of the people I helped, the lady and the photographer. I don't know their names, even these I'm showing you on this article I don't know their names. I'm here in the Truth Commission so that I can also be enlightened to know even better but I carried him and I carried the lady as well, helping them , trying to get them out of the scene of violence. I'm the very one who helped them, not any other person but myself.
DR RANDERA: Albert I just want to ask you one question. You said earlier on you were a commander of the self defence unit, but now you are not doing anything and you are directionless. Can I just ask, did you consider joining the new national defence force or the new police force as a way of contributing to the New South Africa?
MR NKUNA: Not to say I tried, I'm from there. I like to tell the truth, I'm stubborn but when it comes to the truth I like to say it just as it is. The man who called me to join the force is this one I'm sure we knew, in this article. I joined the force. As we were there in the force in ...(indistinct), when we got there I asked why do you say we'll join the MK or the police force and make us associate with those who are trained for security. They said no that it was one of the things, that we undergo the same training. I replied that the security policeman is different from the soldier and they can't fight the same way and can't carry the duties the same way, they are different, and I'm sorry, I won't be a security guard, I just can not be a security guard. You will tell me to keep guard at the stores, that's the next thing and I can't because those are duties of the security guard.
CHAIRPERSON: You've already said that you went to the social workers to get some help. Did you go with your wife both of you to enlist help from the social workers as you've already explained to us that your sexual life is inactive now as a result of the tortures that you underwent?
MR NKUNA: I went there and I said I can't explain the manner in which I was treated by the boers. This is a letter I'm showing you here from the doctor, it's explaining the diseases and suffering that I have. You'll read it and you'll see how much I am traumatised and what I underwent. CHAIRPERSON: We as a Commission will locate social workers and contact them, the social workers that we work with at our base here in Katlehong and we will explain to them your situation and we'll try to get them to contact you and your wife. Thank you.
MR NKUNA: Also I'm sorry, let me say one more thing here? Can I say something, I want to say I did not take this paper to the social workers only but I also took it to some other places, and as a result of that, that's why I appear on this newspaper. You see I'm showing you this newspaper and what led me to be there, to appear in that newspaper is because of this letter. I've stated this newspaper article and I have handed it into you. I want to open up today, Africans, I will say as much as I want to say.
They said they can't deal with me and I left, I went to another and I showed them the newspaper, how can I be helped, and they also will also tell me, we can't help you in any way. I kept taking this paper everywhere.
MR NKUNA: No I'm sorry my Africa, I will give you this one because this other one I want to show it to a parent who's just like you. I want to show my parent things I went through, I don't to relate a story as if it's not existing, I want to tell my parents the story and show them this magazine with this paper at the same time where I come from.
CHAIRPERSON: Albert thank you very much, we've got your statement and you've also attached to it the medical records, the medical certificate, you've also attached the newspaper clippings, so we have all of this which we can follow up on and as Ms Seroke has actually indicated to you through the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee we will certainly try and be of assistance with directing you to councillors. So thank you very much and we'll try and follow up as best we can. Thank you.