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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 10 June 1997
Location EAST LONDON
Names MR ZWELAKHE BIKITSHA
Case Number EC195/96 ELN
REV FINCA: We will now call Zwelakhe Bikitsha. While he is coming up to the stage I would like to ask all the witnesses for to-day to go to that table to ask for Mr Pilanxhumba so those that those can appear to-morrow can tell us and those who cannot we will try to squeeze them in to-day because it is clear that we do not have enough time to finish our order. Those who are able to appear to-morrow please go to that table and indicate whether you will be able to appear to-morrow or not.
MR BIKITSHA: On the 16th of July 1987 Matemba and I got up in the morning, Matemba Vuso. I was preparing to come to Highway to have my shoes repaired at the shoemaker. I left him behind cleaning. I went to Highway and I did all that I was supposed to do. On my return, as I was using the main road up to Mount Ruth I got to the T-junction joining the way from Cecilia Makiwane Hospital I heard a noise. When I looked towards the right I found that the children from Hosanah College toyi-toying. There was someone standing next to me I asked him what was going on and he pointed in front of me and said I must look. As I looked there was a Hippo a Casspir turning towards the main street going to Mount Ruth. At the time there was a group of soldiers walking down from peopleís houses. As I was trying to figure what was going on this Casspir went from house to house. I thought that theyíd got lost. It went into the fourth house. I walked into a house opposite this Casspir and a White policeman came towards me pointing a gun at me saying that I must get out of the way. I tried to go back home but as I turned right going home I turned left again going straight home. As I got into the street I saw that there were a whole lot of white cars Ford Sierraís and Ford Escourts. I walked right past and I had a bag with me. I looked at my house and I realised that my fencing had fallen apart. Outside my house there were blankets and bedspreads. I walked past my house. I walked past my house. Steven Knipe...... I left my bag there with Tammy and I told him that I would come back. There were a whole lot of things going on. Even though I was there by mistake I told myself that I was going to go to the Border Council of Churches. As I was going up the road a child called out to me. This child told me about his brother who was in exile. They were fighting over the phone. The one wanted to phone the sister and tell her what was happening. They said that I must go and help with the dispute. I did not realise at the time that this house was the house where the Hippo had gone in and when I went there it caused my arrest. As I went down the road a Ford Escourt came driving very fast and when it came close to me about six metres it braked but drove past. I thought I better not run away else they would shoot at me. This car reversed and stopped right in front of me and a man got out of the driverís seat. It was Mhleli whom I knew. He would come to my aunt at Mgwane on holiday.
MR BIKITSHA: Matemba passed away. I was taken back to my house. Van Wyk was there with Captain Mfundisi. Captain van Wyk had my marriage certificate and pictures and asked if that was my documentation and I said yes. He showed me two policemen that had passed away. He then took me to a corner where Matemba was lying, dead. I did not see anyone though.
MR BIKITSHA: I got his story when a State Witness Mr Mxhata gave evidence. He gave evidence about me in court. He said that he was on the lookout and kept on hiding behind a wall but got shot. He said heíd been shot by a particular policeman
MR BIKITSHA: They took me towards the Security section and I went in. There was a passage and some rooms with doors closed. I was not given a good reception as I was beaten up with all the weapons they had in their hands. They told me to go in but I didnít know what they were talking about because the doors were closed. Eventually a door was opened and I went into this room where there was an elderly man who strangled me saying that the police are dead and they tried to stop him. He told me to tell them my story.
MR BIKITSHA: Yes, there is something I would like to add. The Government robbed us because we won our claim an out of court settlement. Firstly, we were robbed because we were sent to the Magistrate and instead of coming and checking our situation he talked to us as if he was talking to children. Secondly, the doctor was said to be missing and our folders were missing but the doctor was there. They made this up so that we would not be able to claim. My house was damaged as well.
MR BIKITSHA: First of all I would like these people to come forward with their side of the story so that we can hear their side of the story. Secondly, as the situation was like it was there were no doctors that were helping us we were not treated properly and we were tortured . The single cells in which we were kept had no windows. We were then transferred to solitary confinement in prison and we needed medical treatment because we suffered from stress and from torture. Thirdly, my house and my properties ... I got three thousand rand and I could not even buy enough clothes to wear with that kind of money.
MR BIKITSHA: Yes, he did because I was tortured by Mnandana their sub-ordinate. They pretended to be better and I went to Nonhonho. They also had documents of people who were in exile. They interrogated us about these people.
MR BIKITSHA: Firstly, they used a cube. They tortured us daily for the two weeks that we spent there. They also used a ............ they would handcuff our arms and our legs and they would put something between your knees and your hands and then theyíd put two tables together and put you between those tables with your head upside down. This affected my arms and my legs. If you were tall enough so that your had touched the floor they would lift the two tables so that you can hang. At the time you would have nothing on top and they would push you and beat you with a sjambok all the time.
REV FINCA: There are a number of perpetrators youíve mentioned. All of them will come forward to deny that they were involved so your evidence must clearly clarify who did this to you or were your eyes closed.
MR BIKITSHA: Boyce .................. is not a witness we were charged together. Nokalema was the one who hired a lawyer Magqabi for me. He applied for a grant to pay for my house from the Border Council of Churches.
REV FINCA: Thank you very much Mr Bikitsha, we apologise for asking you many questions but we have to get clarity because youíve mentioned a lot of peopleís names and these people would like to appear before the Commission to deny these allegations. We have to get clarity so that we are able to know what the real truth is. I would like to thank you for now, you may go back to your seat.
REV FINCA: We will call three people who want to state their side of the story regarding Zwelakhe Bikitshaís evidence. The first one is Mr Mhleli Mfunani who will be with his legal representative Mr Mbandazayo. Mr Mbandazayo please confirm your name and the name of your client and the reason why you want to appear before the Commission to-day.
REV FINCA: Thank you. Mr Mhleli Mfunani we would like you to take an oath. We thank you for coming here to give us your side of the story with regard to Mr Bikitshaís evidence. Reverend Xundu will help you take the oath, thank you.
MR MBANDAZAYO: Mr Chairman as usual you have before you main points which my client will give evidence on and I will start asking him to give evidence on those points. Mr Mfunani you have heard the complainant Mr Bikitsha giving evidence regarding the circumstances of the day in question, can you before the Commission and in your own words tell the Commission what happened on the day in question.
MR MFUNANI: I can do that Sir. Thank you Mr Chairperson. First of all it is true that the witness who was here, we used to live together a lot of times. Secondly Mr Chairperson on this particular day I was working in Bisho and I had just been promoted after writing police examinations. I was at the Head Office in Bisho at the time.
On this particular day I was with late Captain Maganuga coming to Mdantsane to the Security Offices there and we had no idea of any operation. We got to Mdantsane and there was a joint operation. We went with the late Captain Maganuga to the office and asked what was going on. We heard that we were going to NU 3 to 7809. At the time I was not aware whose house this was but out of curiosity we followed the police. When we were near Kyalatemba we heard gunshots from NU 74. We were standing near Kyalatemba. After the gunshots stopped we went nearer. If I remember clearly when I arrived there, there were police and soldiers. I donít remember the police who asked me but I was asked to take the injured police to Cecilia Makiwane which I did. I came back from Cecilia Makiwane hospital because I wanted to know what happened. I was shown the police who died and one guy from exile. I donít remember who said this but I received a message that I was called over the police radio. I donít remember if it was the Commander of Mdantsane but he said that the owner of this house was Mr Zwelakhe Bikitsha and as I was the person who knew him I had to help them arrest him which I did as a policeman. I arrested Mr Bikitsha together with other police but I donít remember who they were.
After that I left him in Mdantsane Security Branch and I never met with him again. Fortunately Mr Chairperson he didnít even mention that I was the one torturing him. I met him again in court. That is all Mr Chairperson.
REV FINCA: Thank you Mr Mfunani, if you have no objections we are going to ask you a few questions. Mr Mfunani I think that your statement is very clear but I just want to know when you got to Mdantsane Security Branch offices to whom did you hand Mr Bikitsha over to?
MR MFUNANI: I met him in court on the day when he was charged. He appeared in court because he was charged but I donít remember whether it was on this day that I testified but I did testify because I submitted a statement as I was the one who arrested him.
MR SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr Mfunani, we have a problem with time so I would like you to be very brief in your answers if you can, you can just say yes or no. Thank you Mr Chairperson. Let me start by asking this, what is your rank in the police force now?
MR MFUNANI: Mr Chairperson I said that he may be accusing me because I was the one who arrested him. If you listened very carefully when he was testifying he never mentioned my name as one of the people who were torturing him.
REV FINCA: Thank you Mr Mfunani, we are not making any findings concerning this matter. When we take a decision to include your name as a perpetrator in this case we will inform you so that we can get more representation from your side if you so wish but for now we thank you and we thank Mr Mbandazayo.
MR MMFUNDISI: There was indeed a raid and my role was to be the Commander of the entire raid. I had to answer to all questions and see to it that the raid went smoothly. I was a specialist in weapons therefore I had to inspect the whole ............
REV XUNDU: I just want to ask one question, according to your knowledge with a long record of being a policeman do you think anybody was tortured by the police or peopleís rights were violated by the police or have you never heard of such?
MR MMFUNDISI: It would happen that people were beaten but not daily. What Iím saying is it would depend on the people that are beating the person up and why. I cannot be specific and say so and so was beaten or why that person was beaten.
MR SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Perhaps Mr Chairperson you would allow me to make this statement before I ask questions. The alleged perpetrators remind me of a book I once read in which it said there are three types of lazy people.
MR SANDI: Letís talk about people who are arrested somebody who is being interrogated maybe the police wanted information from that person, how would you ascertain that you get co-operation from the prisoner?
MR MMFUNDISI: I personally would be very careful especially if the case was mine because I would want the case to be successful. I would not interrogate a person without information I would rather leave that person. I would succeed because as I interrogate this person it would come across that I know more than the prisoner.
MR SANDI: Mr Mfundisi the questions that we would ask as the Commission are not because we do not know the answers to the questions. Each witness appearing before us would swear and be on oath to tell the truth even though we have the answers but because we want to ascertain the truthfulness of the person we ask questions to. Who gave orders on this day when you were commanding the raid as I need clarity here?
MR SANDI: As a Commander of this particular unit where did you receive your instructions from, what were you supposed to do and where? Please be patient Sir and wait for me to say Iím finished, Iím through.
MR MMFUNDISI: A week before the raid White men from the Security Branch in East London came telling me that there is an anonymous letter which they received and this letter contained information about the Security Police. The letter alleged that we wanted Matembo Umwuso who stayed in the house of a certain Mr Bikitsha. This person proceeded saying that we must raid this house as there are arms and explosives which are unlawful and this person was at home most of the time especially during the day however at night this person goes out. This person said he wanted to get rid of the person with the illegal arms. I asked for this letter but it was not given to me and I was then requested by the Security Branch Officers from East London to help them find this man. I was a bit concerned because this was not the usual way of getting information. It probably was someone who was close to this family or who knew them very well but the question was, who was this person. I took the telephone directory there was only one Bikitsha that was listed next to Mount Ruth. I was a bit confused because a second Bikitsha came up within the area. somebody phone saying that this anonymous person phoned again and this person was urging us to make this raid. This time I got the chance to read the letter. We did not know whether this was a trap and we did not know who Bikitsha was. We summoned a task force and handed this over to them. After the task force had searched the house we would be allowed to search the house. It was .......................... who would lead this.
MR SANDI: Excuse me Mr Mfundisi you have answered me I just wanted to know where you got the orders from. Apparently you got this from the Republic of South Africa even though you were the police of the Republic of Ciskei. Let us conclude this matter. You said you are an expert where explosives are concerned.
MR MMFUNDISI: I think there is a mistake. When he was arrested I was still at Mr Bikitshaís house conducting the search. What caused the delay was as a person in charge after the whole raid I would have to give a detailed report to the Head Office and wait for the photographers therefore I was still there. He then he came saying that he has this Mr Bikitsha and that is how he was handed over to me.
REV FINCA: Sir we are not talking under general here please, lets not waste time. We are not under general here we are talking about a specific person that is Mr Bikitsha. Who was in charge of the detention of Bikitsha for purposes of interrogation. The evidence which has been placed before us is that he was handed over to you.
REV FINCA: Why did it take us so long to tell us it was Colonel Nonhonho? Therefore it was not you it was Colonel Nonhonho and so if we want to know the truth about this whether Mr Bikitsha was violated we should as Colonel Nonhonho?
REV FINCA: Mr Mfundisi, we are going to request that we go into greater detail with you later. We do not make a finding yet as we need a lot of clarity on this matter we will send you a notice of Section 29 and request that you appear before us to give us more detail and clarity. For now we give you a break until we meet under Section 29, thank you.
MR NOMPOZOLO: Thank you Mr Chairman. Thereís just one point I left out Mr Chairman. He indicated to the Commission that you were given instructions by the then Captain Mfundisi to take him to the police station and to make him talk.
REV FINCA: Thank you very much Mr Mtatha, in your last answer you said that he was making a mistake. He made a mistake in that you were instructed by Captain Mfundisi but he was assaulted by Mr Nonhonho?
MR MTATHA: Heís making a mistake by saying that I was given instructions by Captain Mfundisi to torture him so that he can talk because Captain Mfundisi on that day couldnít give us instructions because there was a Senior, Lieutenant Mfunani.
MISS MAYA: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr Mtatha I have two questions for you. First of all the copy of the occurrence book attached to your Affidavit, what is the purpose thereof is it because you know the person who wrote this occurrence or do you want to clarify to us who arrested this person?
MR MTATHA: According to this Section, Section 26 when you read it is said that the person who has a right to arrest a person is a Colonel and his Superiors. The sub-ordinates do not have a right to arrest a person.
MISS MAYA: You gave us this statement saying that instructions were from Colonel Nonhonho, do you have any knowledge of that? Let me leave that question and say that you heard Inspector Mfundisi saying that the person was responsible for the detainees was Colonel Nonhonho, is that correct?
MISS MAYA: I may be wrong when I refer to the Affidavit of Colonel Nonhonho because he is not here, but Iím going to ask this question as you gave me the right to ask because of the extract. (Extract from Colonel Nonhonhoís statement: Some weeks later whilst on leave I was informed that Zwelakhe, Mr Bikitsha had been arrested). He said that he knew about that Mr Bikitsha had been arrested some weeks later but your extract said that Mr Bikitsha was arrested under Section 26 under instructions from Colonel Nonhonho, can you please explain this to us?
REV FINCA: Unless you insist on answering the question because the statement being referred to is the statement of Colonel Nonhonho heís the one who made the statement but what we want to know from Mr Mtatha perhaps now, is he confirming that Mr Nonhonho was present and is he confirming that Mr Nonhonho did instruct the detention of ... and you must remember that he is under oath.
MR MTATHA: Mr Chairperson according to the OB extract as this was written by one member of the Security Branch it is very difficult for me to know whether this member who signed this OB extract ... because weíd be given instructions and told to do a job at that particular time.
REV FINCA: Mr Mtatha we thank you for now, as Iíve already said to Mr Mfundisi who testified before you we are going to give you notices with a view to an in-depth investigation on this matter. We are not contemplating making a finding at this stage which would want to declare you a perpetrator we would want to hold a more in-depth hearing after we will have more time to go in-depth on this matter. What you have said now remains on our records and we will be using that in a Section 29 hearing. Thank you Mr Nompozolo for your assistance you may be excused.
REV FINCA: Lastly we want to read Mr Nonhonhoís statement for the record. Heís not here but his attorney Mr Clarke sent us his statement for the record so that when we look deeper into the matter we have his statement on record. Mrs Crichton will read this statement for us.
I was previously employed as a Major General in the former Ciskei Police. Prior to my appointment as Major General, in fact, shortly after I was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, I was placed as head of the Security Branch.
Shortly before the arrest of Zwelakhe Bikitsha, a typed letter was received by the Security Police in Cambridge, informing them that there were people with firearms and explosives at Zwelakheís house. This information was sent to my head office in Bisho and I was sent to investigate.
I cannot understand why this matter is being brought to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This matter was previously finalised in the Bisho High Court. The matter was finalised under Case Number 19/88, when Zwelakhe received an undisclosed sum from the Ciskei Government in full and final settlement of his claim.
REV FINCA: Thank you. We regret that Mr Nonhonho decided not to avail himself to us to answer a very pertinent question arising out of his statement. One of which is the one that has been alluded to by Miss Maya but we are hoping that we will be able to meet with him under Section 29 of the Act and converse with him further on what he has said in his statement. Thank you very much weíll adjourn and meet to-morrow at half past nine.