SABC News | Sport | TV | Radio | Education | TV Licenses | Contact Us

Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 16 April 1996


Day 2


Case Number EC0030/96

CHAIRPERSON: Mrs Toni Lillian Mazwai to the stand please.

Mrs Mazwai good morning. We're glad to see you.

TONI LILLIAN MAZWAI: (sworn states)

MR NTSEBEZA: When we talk of Mrs Mazwai, who are we really speaking of, just a few minutes?

MRS MAZWAI: I am Toni Lillian Mazwai, the wife of Robert Bok Mazwai, who stays in 338.B in Josa, he is the late Robert Mazwai, 338 Josa Grahamstown. I had nine children, four of them passed away, I am now remaining with five. The last born is the one we're referring to, Siphiwo (note ...Sicelo is entered on the list of victims' names but Siphiwo is the one used by the interpreter) Hamlet Mazwai.

MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you very much Mrs Mazwai. In those days you a request to the Truth Commission, I just want to ask you a few things that you recently put. Today it was your day that all these things that are connected to Siphiwo

that have troubled you for so long. After it took place, these were the things that you'd actually speak and they make you happy, after getting them out. Do we understand each other? Recently you explained to us that Siphiwo is your son. Is that true?


MR NTSEBEZA: His names in full are Siphiwo Hamlet Mazwai, is that so?




MR NTSEBEZA: His sisters are the people who were staying with him in the Transkei during his disappearance, is that so?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is.

MR NTSEBEZA: One of them is Nomhle, is that so?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is.

MR NTSEBEZA: You should say, yes, so that we can listen and hear what you are saying, you mustn't just nod your head, because this will be broadcast. Is it true that Nomhle is married at Mafekeng? Zoda is also one of your daughters in the Transkei, is that so? I understand that she's now staying in East London but during the period when your son disappeared, she was in the Transkei?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is so.

MR NTSEBEZA: When did Siphiwo leave this country.

MRS MAZWAI: He left this country in 1980.

MR NTSEBEZA: Where did you send him as a parent?

MRS MAZWAI: He went to the University of Fort Hare for studies.

MR NTSEBEZA: How did you learn that he is no longer in the University. You sent him to Nineva and then he went to Darasis.

MRS MAZWAI: Somebody visited me and those were the white police from the Special Branch in Grahamstown. They came to fetch me and took me to the Buildings at OK in Grahamstown. Those were the offices of Special Branch in OK buildings in Grahamstown.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did they say to you?

MRS MAZWAI: I asked the one who fetched me, what is the problem, and then he said, "Let's go, you will hear what all this is about". When I got there I was surrounded by



everybody, it was full like this house, they questioned me

about Siphiwo's whereabouts. They informed me that he's not there but I confirmed and insisted that I sent my son to

the University of Fort Hare and I do not understand what they meant when they said they do not know him. I was beginning to be concerned about what they said.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did they say to you?

MRS MAZWAI: They just said to me, "We do not know where he is but we are telling you that he's not there." I insisted that I sent him there, so I don't know anything more than that. I stayed for a period there, they were interrogating me, relieving themselves and questioning me time and again, asking me repeatedly the same things, and I didn't have an idea that the child could go anywhere else but to be at university.

MR NTSEBEZA: So it was in 1980 when this happened?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it was in 1980. I phoned my daughters who were in the Transkei in Umtata at the time, I asked them if they had any idea of what happened to Siphiwo and then they said to me that he said he was going to Butterworth because he was studying law at the time and that he was going to lawyers there, but he didn't come back. They said his belongings are still there with them.

MR NTSEBEZA: So it was after a year that he didn't come back.

MRS MAZWAI: Yes, even during the holidays he didn't come back. During this year, within the year the police came back again waking me at night, I think at was just after 8 o'clock, they knocked at the door, got inside and rushed into my house. Then they asked me if I had heard anything about Siphiwo. I insisted that I did not know anything



about him. They stayed in my house for a few minutes and then left the place. The following day I phoned my daughters again and I informed that I'm not happy because the police visit me periodically, so they told me that Siphiwo has crossed the borders.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did you understand by somebody crossing the border at that time?

MRS MAZWAI: I knew immediately that he was in the struggle. I knew the meaning of crossing. It a later stage I learned that he was in Lesotho. I don't know where they learned all about this, but they informed me. The police continued to visit me. When they came again, each time they visited me, I would call my daughters and tell them that they should go and look for my son in Lesotho, because I suspected that it might happen if he's no longer there, he might have been murdered. Zoda is the one who is brave. She undertook this journey and went to Lesotho.

MR NTSEBEZA: Do you remember what year he looked for her?

MRS MAZWAI: I cannot remember very well, but it was a few years after he disappeared. I think it was '81 or '82. I'm not certain, it could have been 1983 because it was some time back. Zoda was the one who undertook the journey but she didn't find a trace of him, but was informed that he was available there in Lesotho. I'm not sure whether he was training or what was happening, but there was confirmation that he was around there. It was in Maseru.

It is also said that they were prohibited on their way to Lesotho. I don't know where she got the passport, she was together with Zwandile's younger brother, Mzwandilevena, they travelled together, he is now an Umkonto Wesizwe soldier. They went together with his younger brother. They EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE


went to look for my child.

We got the information that he's still alive, but she didn't see him. So she came back and informed us that it is confirmed that he's alive, he was there but no information was given again.

My daughter was visited by the police and asked what she was going to do when visiting Lesotho. She informed the police that she went to look for her brother.

MR NTSEBEZA: I understand that a few years later you received a phone call from Siphiwo, is that so?


MR NTSEBEZA: What did he say to you?

MRS MAZWAI: I received a telephone call, Nomhle gave me a message and said, "Come and listen, Mama, come and guess who is on the telephone". It was Siphiwo. He greeted me and asked after our health, we exchanged some small talk and I asked him where he was. He just said that he's there and he's alive. He didn't tell me where his whereabouts were, but when I asked him when he's coming back, he said, "Those who come back will be those who'd enjoy, it doesn't matter whether I do not come back, but those who will be coming back will enjoy!" But he did not finish his talk. I asked him about President Mandela, if he would come back, because he was also away. It was Christmas eve when I was asking these questions. My son said Mr Mandela will come back soon. When I asked him when he himself is coming back, he insisted again and said, even if he did not come back, those who did so, would enjoy.

It was a Christmas and the first time that I heard his voice since he'd gone, and he insisted that those who come back would be those who would be benefitting.



MR NTSEBEZA: What else did you hear about him after you received this telephone call?

MRS MAZWAI: In January the following year, in 1988, Mrs Ngopo came to me, she is the wife to our Reverend, the reverend of the Anglican Church in our locality. She visited me together with the other women of the church. They said it was a casual visit. They exchanged glances, but didn't say anything, just insisting that they visited me casually. During the process they started praying and everybody was emotionally moved and they started crying. They gave me the bad tidings that Siphiwo was reported by my daughters, that they are afraid to inform me of what has happened.

They said they learned that Siphiwo was shot and fatally wounded in Umtata.

MR NTSEBEZA: Did they know when he was shot?

MRS MAZWAI: No they didn't.

MRS MAZWAI: Late in the evening they phoned me and formally informed me about the bad tidings. They said he was travelling by car with three comrades. Two ran away and one who was left fighting until he was overpowered and shot to death. That is what they learned.

MR NTSEBEZA: How did they say they got this information?

MRS MAZWAI: They said they received a telephone call from somebody anonymously, he just said "Come quickly to Mount Fletcher to the police station mortuary, because Siphiwo is being damaged. His body has been there for quite a long time. So this confirmed that he was killed.

MR NTSEBEZA: Did they go to the mortuary?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes they did.

MR NTSEBEZA: Who went?

MRS MAZWAI: Zoda and Nomhle. They were afraid to look at



the body and wanted somebody to escort them. When they wee asked who gave this information, they said that somebody phoned them anonymously, but they didn't know his name.

MR NTSEBEZA: Didn't they go to the lawyers?

MRS MAZWAI: They came back because there were some problems and there was an indication that they were struggling to get his body. They went back to Umtata and they went to an attorney called Dumisane Nthabesa, and tried to get means of getting the body. I do not know how this lawyer worked but they found him , but his body was already in a bad state. They took him to the Gunesa Police Station. He stayed there in the mortuary until the day when he had to be buried.

MR NTSEBEZA: When was he buried?

MRS MAZWAI: He was buried on a Saturday, I cannot remember the date.

MR NTSEBEZA: I want you to inform this house and this gathering of what happened on a Friday, a day before his funeral.

MRS MAZWAI: On that fateful Friday, somebody came and fetched me, Reverend Umgobo was also fetched, they asked was going to do the ceremony and I state that the Reverend will do it. They also asked who the undertakers were, and I said it was Mathebesa who was also there and then we were taken to the office of the Special Branch at the OK buildings in Grahamstown. It was a housefull. I was informed that my son was a well-trained guerilla and that the people who attend the funeral have to be limited to 200 in number. The person who was conducting the ceremony can only be the Reverend. The can be no freedom songs, speeches ...(intervention)



MR NTSEBEZA: Did the police say so?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes the detectives said so. They said only the Reverend could carry on with the work, nobody should assist him.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did you say when this was said to you?

MRS MAZWAI: I told him that in our area nobody is invited to a funeral. They just go there of their own free will. What should I do and what should I say to those who had come on their own? They just kept quiet. They said to the Reverend who was next to me, that he was the only person who could do the ceremony and they insisted that there should be no speeches, no freedom songs, nothing.

MR NTSEBEZA: When your son was buried, just give us a picture about your family during the day of the funeral.

MRS MAZWAI: It was like a war. It seemed as if it was a battle. There's a big gate next to Josa. There was a convoy, police , soldiers hippos, everybody. This convoy was just next to my house and my house was surrounded by the police. It stretched for quite a long distance. They were all armed. I've left something out.

During the day when I was there, they asked when the body is going to arrive and I replied that I don't know the hearse will be arriving. They said the arrival should take no longer than three hours. The hearse arrived after nine o'clock and it was guarded by the police convoy. His coffin was shaken. They shook the hearse.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did they want from the coffin?

MRS MAZWAI: I do not know but they went forward and asked what was going on. The reporters who came also witnessed but they were chased back. Some people came late and were driven away and nobody was allowed to come in. It was



already full of people and they could not control the 200. MR NTSEBEZA: There is this tradition that when somebody is buried, the relatives and the families are supposed to look and pay tribute for the last time. Did this happen to your son?

MRS MAZWAI: Nobody was allowed to see him, I didn't even see him because his body was beyond recognition and the undertaker, Gwonisa, said to try his best to mummify him, but this was very difficult. So I could not see him for the last time, the last time when I saw him alive was in 1980.

MR NTSEBEZA: In other words, the policemen who killed your son in Mount Fletcher, didn't care, even when he was already dead, they also made it a point that his family, his relatives, couldn't even have a glance to see him because they kept him there for a long time.

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is so.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did they say when you asked them what kept them so long, why didn't they inform you before his body was like this.

MRS MAZWAI: They said they didn't know who he was. They didn't know his name, so they couldn't do anything.

MR NTSEBEZA: We are now coming to an end of this testimony. Is it true that the first thing that is most disturbing to you is that you had sent your son to university, but the second time when you saw him, was when he was unrecognisable as a person, his remains were also unrecognisable.

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is so.

MR NTSEBEZA: But am I mistaken when I say the most moving and disturbing thing is that the police did not give you the last dignified minute to bury your son in a dignified manner, according to your tradition.



MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is so.

MR NTSEBEZA: I discover also that there were so many problems thereafter, there was a time when you were visited by one of the white men, who wanted a story about your son. Isn't that so?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is.

MR NTSEBEZA: He also wanted a photograph of your son?


MR NTSEBEZA: Did you give it to him?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes I did.

MR NTSEBEZA: And is this the photograph which was used during the program of the funeral?


MR NTSEBEZA: Where did this gentleman come from?

MRS MAZWAI: This person said he is a reporter, a journalist and he had all the equipment with him. He came on Sunday very early in the morning. He said he it was the New Nation which was banned after Siphiwo.

MR NTSEBEZA: Was this publicised together with what you were saying?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes I gave him the whole story and an account of what happened at the time.

MR NTSEBEZA: Is this the story that you talked about, I don't want you to read, it is true...

MRS MAZWAI: Oh no I also may not be able to read it true because my tears are full.

MR NTSEBEZA: Is it you who is on this photograph?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is me.

MR NTSEBEZA: Is this Siphiwo down there?

MRS MAZWAI: Yes it is.

MR NTSEBEZA: Okay I'm satisfied, let us finalise this.



Were you fetched by the police in connection with that publication.

MRS MAZWAI: Yes this gentleman came on Sunday morning. When we sat together in my sitting room, he requested me to give an account about myself and what happened to my son, and I gave the full account. I left no stone unturned. We were together with another black man.

After the account they went away, so I thought everything was in order and I think it was on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Again the same white man, the same people, it was the police, came in, and said they 've come to fetch me. I was surprised. Even when the terrorist was now dead, "Yes", they said, "We've come to fetch you!" "What is it now?" He said,"No you are wanted."

So we went together with my son, and I was still weak at the time, it was only two days after the burial. When we got there, I again found a full house, the people who were surrounding me were hefty and powerful. They called me, "Mrs Mazwai, who came to visit you at your house on Sunday and publicised this?"

MR NTSEBEZA: What did you say to them?

MRS MAZWAI: I said, "It's one of you who was there". I was telling them, I said, "One of you, one of you", I was pointing at the whites. They denied visiting my place. I said that he was just like them. He asked me everything and I gave him the full story.

MR NTSEBEZA: Why did you say it was one of them.

MRS MAZWAI: It's because he was very rude with me so I wanted to be rude to him too. You know they were asking me questions. They said it wasn't one of them.

MR NTSEBEZA: What did they say?



MRS MAZWAI: They said, "No not even one of us went to your place." I said, "Oh well he ordered me to speak and I spoke. He asked me questions, I gave him answers." And they sat, they stayed there. They looked at me and I stayed there with them. As time went on, one said, "Don't you even remember his name?", I told them I didn't but he mentioned the name. "How was he?", I said,"He was just like that one sitting there."

MR NTSEBEZA: Were you not tired to be sitting there? You know telling them time and again who was sitting at your place. Others from Port Elizabeth were full in the house, heavily built, what did you say to them?

MRS MAZWAI: I said, "No, can I please get tea, I'm thirsty, it's 11 o'clock now?"

MR NTSEBEZA: What did they say? They said,"Someone will prepare you tea." I said, "No, I want tea from my house". They sat there staring at me. One of them said, "Take her to her house." I was then taken to my house. You know, on the stairway I saw one guy from Rhodes, he was carrying a bag and I said to them ," Look, this is the one." They said, "No he's a student at Wits."

On our way down I saw another guy, I pointed at him and said, "That's him." They said, "No this one is also a student at Rhodes." They took me then to my place.

MR NTSEBEZA: Thank you very much Mama. Today you had a chance to give testimony. How old are you?

MRS MAZWAI: I was born in 1913. On 7th July I was 83 years old. (end of tape 6 , there is no further recording which concludes this testimony )


Broadcasting for Total Citizen Empowerment
SABC © 2019