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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 18 April 1996


Day 4


Case Number EC0038/96

(tape 16 missing here)

MRS MPHELO: the day when this thing happened, the day when Mr Mpehlo was shot.

MR SANDI: You say on that day, what happened, what actually happened on that day?

MRS MPHELO: On that day at home, it was on a Sunday, we were selling fruits and vegetables at that place. We woke up early in the morning and he said to me he was going to buy oranges. Well he left with his car and I asked

him why he didn't take a van. Well he drove off with his car, he came back with small plastic bags filled with naartjies and he said, "This is yours, this is for my sister", I can't remember the third one, he said, "I know my sister is very fond of nuts". Well he left. He came back again.

You know on that Sunday, he was busy telling me that I should cook soup for him, he wanted a real soup. I said to, "Oh My Lord, why does he make me cook so many pots on Sunday?", because I was supposed to prepare the normal food. I said, "Okay I will". He went out with his car, he came back again and he asked me, "Did you cook my soup?" I said "No I haven't yet started cooking. I will start it as soon as I finish. He went out, came back again, "Haven't you started cooking my soup? Leave everything that you're



doing, can you please cook me some soup?" You know I thought I'm tired now, I can't listen to this anymore, I have to cook this soup and he said, "I'm coming back.", he went out, that was the last time I saw him alive.

MR SANDI: You said the day he left at home heading for High Street?

MRS MPHELO: As usual he would go on Sunday, High Street where he died, it was a street where Velite his uncle stayed. I didn't know on Sunday when he left where he was going to because he left with Stinky Mpehlo who is his uncle's son. Well after noon when they did not come, I was worried, I said, "Well he doesn't usually miss his lunches, why is he not at home today because I already prepared his soup?" I think it was round about four, if I'm not mistaken. I saw Mrs Wendy Madiba coming, I was just moving up and down in the house. I was really restless, and she asked me why I was so restless, what was I waiting for, my husband was dead, he's been shot?

MR SANDI: Did you say it was at 12 High Street?


MR SANDI: What did the witnesses say?

MRS MPHELO: They said while he was trying to go somewhere, He was at Jose the moment, people said to him he has a phone call that he has to be at 12 High Street. Well he thought he was being called by his cousin, he'll go there? On his arrival he went into the house, and he wanted this cousin who was calling him but he was not there. He was very lively and full of jokes, every time talking to people, joking with some people outside. Among those people, one of them shot him from behind.

MR SANDI: What is this 12 High Street? As I've listened



to you talking there, you say there were a lot of people there.

MRS MPHELO: What I think, you know that time when he was at his cousin's, there was something,I think it was a shop if I am not mistaken, he never thought that these people calling him would kill him.

MR SANDI: Did you hear at home that he was shot?

MRS MPHELO: Yes I was at home. It is Mrs Madiba who told me that he was shot. I called 12 High Street and I enquired about this thing. The person who answered me said, yes he was shot. I asked whether they called the ambulance but the child said no, he was scared. I asked him if he called the police and he repeated that he did not as he was too scared. Well I called the ambulance and the police.

MR SANDI: Where was your husband now?

MRS MPHELO: His corpse was still in the yard, at twelve.

MR SANDI: This person who you talked to on the phone, you said he was scared to call the police.

MRS MPHELO: Yes he said so.

MR SANDI: Are there any things that happened at your place? Maybe some of the things that would indicate to you that if they happened you called the police and the ambulance. What happened on that day, can you please explain to us? People were killed, there were petrol bombs, Grahamstown was in a very terrible state during those years.

MR SANDI: Who were actually doing these things.

MRS MPHELO: Nobody knows. Because these children were busy organising things, you know, not knowing who's really behind these children. Because on that day when my husband was shot, they took his car keys and they went off with his car to burn it, at the park.



MR SANDI: Were the people caught?

MRS MPHELO: I heard perpetrators of such things were caught but I never knew what happened to them afterwards.

MR SANDI: Did the police come to you and tell you what happened to those people who were caught, didn't they tell you about court cases?

MRS MPHELO: No nothing took place.

MR SANDI: Do you tell us even today you don't know what happened to that case?

MRS MPHELO: No I don't know anything up to this day.

MR SANDI: In the statement or in the explanation that you've given us you said you were helping in what firm?

MRS MPHELO: I'm not yet registered, I'm helping in that law firm.

MR SANDI: Can you explain to us what you actually do there?

MRS MPHELO: I have trained to be an estate agent.

MR SANDI: You said in your explanation you were at number 50 Redland Road, do you still stay there?

MRS MPHELO: Well after my husband's death many things befell me one after the other. I never enjoyed life anymore. As I'm sitting here, I'm asking this Commission, my children want to learn. I have an elder son, he was at a technikon in Port Elizabeth, and he was forced to stop studying. You know, even now the lawyers are running after me to get the money that was left behind.

MR SANDI: Now who's place is 50 Redland Road?

MRS MPHELO: That's Baba's place. No I didn't sell it to him. There is something that I'm trying to explain here. These many miseries that befell me after my husbands death, you know everything disappeared, the money, the shops and



even the house. I was trying to raise some money, I wanted to give my children a good education, but I never succeeded in anything that I tried to do. Everything was taken, was really insolvent. As I am here, I do not have a place to stay, I stay at my parents home with my children.

MR SANDI: Do you want to say anything to the Commission today.

MRS MPHELO: One thing that really puzzled us, as he was being accused that he was a spy who sold Steve Biko, on the other side we never rested. The police were on their toes, on the other side it was the people. I remember at one stage, it was a rally. Now the youth were throwing stones at cars. They ran to my place, into my house, I opened the wardrobes, I said to them they should get in. Even underneath the beds. The police were outside, you know, they kicked off my door and they asked, didn't you see any youth, I said no I didn't, nobody came in, couldn't they see that the door that they kicked was closed. Surely that would be an indication that there are no people in this house.

You know at that time there was a child underneath the bed, I was talking alone, this child was restless and I took a cloth, I tried to clean while talking, hiding this sound that was coming from underneath the bed. Well the police left and I opened the wardrobe. They thanked me for helping them, another game.

Across the street there were police there, it was after the rally. There's a big place of reeds. A policeman came from that area and asked us why we urinate close to the kraal, and he replied, this is our place, our tradition tells us to urinate very close to the kraal. You know, this hefty man picked him up, he was so hefty that his feet



couldn't touch the floor, and then he was thrown into the back of the hippo.

After hearing this, on the other side, these youths arrived at my place with guns. My husband was not now at home, it was at about seven o'clock and they cut my telephone line, they got into my van, they took everything they wanted. They opened the wardrobes, they took everything, they looted my house.

MR SANDI: When did this happen? Did all this happen at the time you were waiting to bury your husband?

MRS MPHELO: They arrived the following day at 11 o'clock. Among them there was a young lady wearing a very short skirt, a mini-skirt, and she said to me, "You know what, I can shoot you any time". You know from underneath the mini this child pulled something out, it was a gun. I raised up my hands and said, "Oh my children, what really do you want, you killed my husband who is innocent, do you now want to kill the family? What have we done?" And this young girl said, "Somebody sent us, we've been given an instruction to kill you and then everything."

MR SANDI: Thank you very much Mrs Mpehlo. I will give things back to the chairman, are there maybe things that you'd like to explain?

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Any questions? Thank you very much Mrs. We hope that the Commission will try to investigate. We thank you very much for the evidence that you have put before us. We understand your request, your plea about your children and their education.

MRS MPHELO: There is this one fact that I want to emphasise. It's with regard to the children. You know you realise your child, when he has a certain talent, but



because there was this stigma attached to our family, the child couldn't carry on with his talent, because he didn't trust anybody. He wanted to pull himself every time. There is something that he wanted to persue with his talent.

MR SANDI: Thank you very much, Mrs.

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