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Human Rights Violation Hearings

Type 1 P N SABATANA, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Starting Date 18 April 1996

Location EAST LONDON

Day 4

Names P N SABATANA

Case Number EC0016/96

 

DR BORAINE: We invite Patience Nobesuthu Sabatana, to the stand please. Good morning Mrs Sabatana. Will you please stand for the oath?

PATIENCE NOBSUTHU SABATANA: (sworn states)

DR BORAINE: Mrs Sabatana as I understand it, you want to tell us a story about your brother who at a very young age left South Africa for Tanzania. Is that right? It's a very painful thing to have to do and it goes back a very long way but it's still very real for you and we feel deeply for you and in trying to assist you in helping you to try and tell that story about your brother, Mr Ntsiki Sandi will ask you some questions. Is that alright?

MR SANDI: Mrs Sabatana, I realise that you have brought your statement in a written form and you have also typed it, is that so?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Did you take it to the office of the Commissioner?

MRS SABATANA: Yes I did.

MR SANDI: Is that your statement? And is it also the statement of Shakespeare Antoni, your brother?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Is he in the Transkei?

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MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Is he the one who is next to you now?

MRS SABATANA: Yes he's the one.

MR SANDI: Briefly, if I can summarise your story, you will be able then to give a full account. You state that your brother left the country in 1975. Is that so?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Can you explain why he left?

MRS SABATANA: Yes I can. Mncedisi went away in 1975 between August and September. He left the place whilst attending school at Zweletemba in Kingwilliamstown. During that period Charles Sebe came with a list of the lists of children. They were 15 in number and he said they went to Tanzania. They went to establish homes there. Two weeks after he came, security forces came from Cambridge and visited my mother whom they asked the whereabouts of her son. My mother said that he was at school, she didn't give the information that Charles was here to the security officers. The people came here and asked frequently, and my mother insisted that the child was at school. This continued for several years, and we didn't hear anything about what happened, but the security forces kept on visiting us.

I think it was in 1980, the security officers composed of black people came here. Then when they saw that my mother was afraid, they said she must not fear, they are doing their job there. At some stage my mother began to feel very ill. She was an invalid because she was disturbed by this. She suffered a stroke in 1987 and her face was disfigured until 1990 when she died in February.

I was the survivor and then there was a person who came EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE

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from my place who told me that Mncedisi is still alive. He said he saw him in 1978. He said there was a meeting in Tanzania and he saw the child. I was happy to learn that he was still alive because we were afraid that there were people coming. Although he was not coming back, some of the that were in exile were aware that he was still alive. I was always hoping that any day he may come in and return from exile. In 1994 I received card which I'm showing to you. It says they were at a meeting in Tanzania.

As I last saw him a very long time ago I doubted his face. They showed me that he was in the first row and is the one with the cap on. Why he used a hat was because he was burned while still very young.

MR SANDI: Please Mrs Sabatana, can I just ask who is the person who said he saw your brother? Is he still around?

MRS SABATANA: Yes but I cannot say where exactly he is.

MR SANDI: When was it when he saw your brother in 1978?

MRS SABATANA: I can say it's after my mother had already died.

MR SANDI: Is it when the people in exile were coming back?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: In other words, this photograph that you show us, was it the photograph taken during the meeting in Tanzania?

MRS SABATANA: Yes it is so.

MR SANDI: Before this photo came, can you mark who he is, because I understand that there are so many people in that hut, have you made a mark on the photograph to identify him?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Is that your brother?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

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MR SANDI: What did your elder brother do when he saw this photograph?

MRS SABATANA: When I received this photo I went to the Transkei to show my other brother this photograph and showed him that Mncedisi was on this photograph.

MR SANDI: Continue, we are listening.

MRS SABATANA: My brother made a photostat of this and he brought the card back.

MR SANDI: In other words ever since Welcome Mncedisi Sabatana left, that is the person that we are talking about?

MRS SABATANA: Yes it is.

MR SANDI: Did he ever write?

MRS SABATANA: No he didn't write, he didn't phone.

MR SANDI: Did you hear for the first time from this person that you said informed you that he is alive?

MRS SABATANA: Yes, after my mother died I learned about the fact that my brother is still alive. It was the first time.

MR SANDI: Did you make any enquiries or investigations about this, because I realise that your brother was a member of the Pan Africanist Congress, you said so?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Did you make enquiries about what happened from this organisation?

MRS SABATANA: Yes my brother did that.

MR SANDI: How did they make investigations?

MRS SABATANA: My brother went to the lawyer, and this was a Pan African Congress member, to put the case forward. That lawyer was Zuma.

MR SANDI: Did he go to the lawyer named Mr Zuma?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

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MR SANDI: Zuma is in an office, he is not a lawyer.

MRS SABATANA: I'm surprised because in this letter it is said he is in the offices which are in the Transkei.

MR SANDI: What did he say?

MRS SABATANA: He said there will be a meeting which will be in Ncobo. He said he will take this photo and show them and he confirmed that when he showed the photo, the people who were amongst them, there was a boy who knew about my brother. He could identify him on the photograph.

MR SANDI: I just want to make sure that I'm following what you are saying very well. Did Mr Zuma take this photo and show it to somebody who was able to identify Mncedisi?

MRS SABATANA: Yes it is so.

MR SANDI: Not that Mr Zuma took the photo and identified him?

MRS SABATANA: No he didn't know and he couldn't identify him?

MR SANDI: I'm still listening about the investigations that you did together with the members of the organisation. Did you say that there was somebody who could identify him?

MRS SABATANA: Yes, that person could.

MR SANDI: Where did they say Mncedisi is?

MRS SABATANA: They didn't say anything, but this person just said to Mr Zuma, he knows this person, identifying him on the photograph?

MR SANDI: When was it that they were communicating with Mr Zuma?

MRS SABATANA: It was March 1996.

MR SANDI: What were they last saying to Mr Zuma? What did Mr Zuma say is going to happen?

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MRS SABATANA: He said he'll go to his party which is the organisation.

MR SANDI: Are they would hold a meeting, is that what you mean?

MRS SABATANA: Yes he said they were going to make investigations about all these incidents which have taken place.

MR SANDI: When did he say these will take place?

MRS SABATANA: He said at the end of March.

MR SANDI: When did you see him?

MRS SABATANA: We saw Mr Zuma.

MR SANDI: Do you still remember that date on which you visited Mr Zuma?

MRS SABATANA: I think the days are there in front of you in the letters.

MR SANDI: Is that in March?

MRS SABATANA: Yes, it was in March.

MR SANDI: Did Mr Zuma come back to you at the end of March, because we are now in April?

MRS SABATANA: No my brother has not yet visited him but Mr Zuma is still in the offices in Transkei.

MR SANDI: Are there any other people who were together with Mncedisi since there are people who are coming back from exile? Were there any people who could say they know him?

MRS SABATANA: No nobody ever came from exile and informed us that they know about Mncedisi.

MR SANDI: Is the person who talked to Mr Zuma the only person who knows about him?

MRS SABATANA: There is another one, Shakespeare has seen him. The person who knows my brother is also said to be in

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this photograph but I don't know. Mr Zuma says to us there is a person on this photograph who knows my brother.

MR SANDI: What is your request if I can ask you? Do request that the Commission should find out about your brother?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

MR SANDI: Do you want to say that you are mandating us that we should write or phone Mr Zuma and establish about how far he has gone with his investigations?

MRS SABATANA: Yes I do.

MR SANDI: Is there anything that you'd like us to do in connection with this? Or perhaps can I say, would you add something during this Commission presentation or would you like your brother to say something about this, or do you think that you have said enough?

MRS SABATANA: What I can add is, on the 8th of April, I received a telephone call there at home, which was asking if there was anybody who came to our place. They said there was somebody who came from Johannesburg who tried to find out about our family and our surname, but they discovered that nobody knows about this surname. The person who phoned said she knew about this surname and then she said she's going to phone at Zone 2 to find out of Mbongani knows me. When she phoned at Zone 2, she didn't find anybody and then she looked up in the directory and got the family reflected in there. She phoned the number and then she could communicate with me.

She explained that she doesn't know me, and then she said she is Veli Tswaclina and said there was a young man who was looking for me, during the Easter weekend. But there was nobody who knew this surname. So I explained that I

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will try and establish if I can get information about this surname so that I can give her the information that she needed.

This person gave me the telephone number where I should phone, I tried to phone this number, I was informed that this person who said that I must phone had left for Johannesburg. I gave the information that I am Nobesuthu because this person said he was asking after us. The reply that I got is that this person had left and then when he phones they will tell him about what has happened and give him the information that I have just given her.

On the 10th, when we came back from King Williamstown I received a telephone call, it was from Unit 13, this person said to me I should please phone Monde at 9 o'clock, and he said I must not miss that time. I did as instructed and it was nine in the evening. I phoned at 9 o'clock as instructed. I found this person at 9 o'clock and I gave him my particulars. At the same time he answered and said he is the person who was looking for us. I informed him that I was responding to the message that he was looking for us.

He asked me what I last heard about my brother. I told him that we didn't hear anything about him. He told us that he died.

MR SANDI: Did this happen when you went to the office of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

MRS SABATANA: Yes. When he said so I said I'm shocked because I don't know what to do. Again I informed him that I've taken the information and presented it to the Truth Commission and then he said, okay that does not matter.

MR SANDI: Does he say he died.

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

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MR SANDI: Did he explain how he died and why?

MRS SABATANA: He said to me he died. He asked if there were any people who came and informed me about this and I said no. He said he was going to send people so that they can give me full information. There was no further information about that.

MR SANDI: Was there anything further after this telephonic communication, is there any information further than that which told under what circumstances he died?

MRS SABATANA: No, nobody came again. The other thing is that this person was always referring to Vedge and I asked., who is this Vedge. He said no Vedge is another name which I know Mncedisi as.

MR SANDI: Do you know this Vedge that he was always mistaking for your brother?

MRS SABATANA: No I don't. At this stage I would like he Commission to listen to this and also that you should tell us what to do? We would like the Commission to establish how our brother died and where he was buried.

MR SANDI: I'm certain that you will realise that the Commission will have to make an investigation ...(end of tape 18).......Is there anything you would like to say before we can carry forward?

MRS SABATANA: I would like any type of assistance that we can get because I would like just to make sure that he really died.

MR SANDI: Thank you very much.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Are there any other questions?

DR BORAINE: Mrs Sabatana I have two questions. Your brother had a code name, what was that code name?

MRS SABATANA: His name was Big Boss.

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DR BORAINE: So he was known in the camp as Big Boss?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

DR BORAINE: Okay, now somebody gave you information that there was a rumour that there was a fight in the camp and that he was killed in that fight. Is that so? Can you remember who told you that?

MRS SABATANA: Yes I can. The person who came to us and gave the information and told us that there was a big fight in the camp, although he was not present during the fight. This information was being kept as a secret because I was not supposed to know about this. This person says he was also looking for Mncedisi because he knew his family he felt that he should make enquiries. When he asked what had happened about him because he had disappeared, he was informed that there was a big fight and Mncedisi was killed during this, and this person is now in Western Germany, and he was here in February. So I asked this person, because he said, when he was last here when I asked him what happened he said he didn't want me to know about this. They talked secretly about it, but I gave myself a chance to go and visit this person in February. I called him and said, "Luvuyo, can you really tell me what happened to Mncedisi?", and he said, "Aunt Mncedisi died but I learned this I should not give this information to you", but what I know is that he is in Western Germany. But this was known before that he is in Western Germany, that is why I have come here to the Truth Commission because I am not certain of what happened.

DR BORAINE: Just the last question. When we asked you what we could do for you, you mentioned that you really want to know how he died, in what circumstances, and where he is buried. That's right?

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MRS SABATANA: Yes.

DR BORAINE: But you also have a special reason for wanting a death certificate, because you have no death certificate?

MRS SABATANA: Yes.

DR BORAINE: Is that because of the house? Okay, thank you that's very helpful, thank you.

MRS SABATANA: I was requesting that we should be shown the photograph.

MR SANDI: Was this photo taken in Tanzania?

MRS SABATANA: Yes it was taken in Tanzania.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, and you brother. We really think your presence here was valuable, we will try and help you, thank you very much.

 
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