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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 09 June 1997
Location EAST LONDON
Names MRS NOKUZOLA THELMA KOLOTI
Case Number EC787/97 ELN
MISS MAYA: According to the statement we have before us you apparently got a report in 1991 that Tamsanqa who was seventeen years at the time was not well in Tanzania. What happened, how did he get to Tanzania and what was he ill from?
MRS KOLOTI: Tamsanqa was a Standard Nine student at Wangaletu. He disappeared on the tenth of July in 1980. After a while he wrote to us telling us that heís in Maseru. The Special Branch Officers were looking for him at our place quite frequently. At the time we were told that if somebody goes into exile they never come back.
However in December 1986 my sister called me because he apparently had a job to do here in South Africa, I saw him and then he left again. He said that he would come back soon. What shocked me was that in December 1989 I got a letter from him himself telling me that he was not well and that I must go to the ANC offices to ask them to make it possible for me to go and see him. I got up early in the morning to go to Mr Metele and I told him. He was also shocked as he had not heard that my child was ill and said he would investigate the matter. I gave him a week and the following week I went back to him. He said that he found out that my son was indeed not well. I asked what was wrong with him and he said he was ill from indigenous diseases in Tanzania, I asked if they could do something so that I could go and see him but he said that the ANC could not afford it. I didnít know where to turn for help.
My child wrote back but before that I wrote back to him and told him what had happened. He wrote yet again saying that I should go back to the ANC offices to request help which I did. One morning at about nine oíclock Mr Mettle came to my house and told me that my son was coming back but he did not say when. I was just happy that my he was coming back but he never came back and I gave up.
In November 1990 I received his last letter reiterating the deteriorating state of his health. I was tired of the ANC telling me that they donít have money. ...(Inaudible) were on Robben Island at the time, they were also young men from the neighbourhood. I went to Robben Island to ask them for a ticket and they already knew that Tamsanqa was ill. I told them that I have this problem and they told me to go to Frank Chikane.
Even when I was in Cape Town I went to Carl(?) House and they tried to phone around but they did not succeed. It was the 1st of May that year on a Wednesday on the 29th of April at about eleven in the morning when Mr Metele came to my house to asked if my son had come back and I said no. He said that it was a bit funny because the ill always come back home. It was in 1991. I had my childís letters with me and I told him that the entire year of 1990 Iíd been going to the ANC offices requesting help. He asked what his alias name was that he used in exile and I said that he was Samsomia. He asked when last he wrote, I said in November the previous year. I prepared for my childís homecoming even though he was ill I wanted him back.
It was on a Monday on the Tuesday there were general ANC meetings and I would go to those. I went to the meeting and then went back home because there was no meeting after all. My youngest child came to me saying that Mr Metele is looking for me and together with my sister they were waiting for me at home. When I got home in the early evening there were women from the community sad and bowed down but Mr Metele was not there. I looked around and I sensed in the atmosphere that my son had passed away. When my son told me that Metele was around I thought that he had brought my son back. I went inside and asked, is my child dead? Nobody answered so I sat down. After a short while Mr Metele came back as heíd gone to look for me and he told me that my son had passed away. I later found out because my sister told me that there was a young man from Tanzania whoíd gone to visit a friend at his punzani. This young man remembered that there was a Comrade who he was in exile with and they got close because they were all from East London but he would say that the house is in Mdantsane and the aunt lived in Spunsani. The other man said, I know who you are talking about and he said he was sure that the family didnít know that my son had passed away. Mr Metele said that he would investigate the matter and when he came on the Monday asking if my son had arrived home. This was because he was making sure that my son did pass on. Mr Metele was not strong enough to tell me on his own so he went and got my sister so that they could tell me together.
The ANC then provided finances for me to go to Tanzania to my sonís grave. When we got there I was asked why I did not go to Tanzania whilst my child was ill, did Mr Stofili not go to my house because my child had been calling for me while he was in hospital and Mr Stofili had promised that he would go to my house and make preparations so that I could go and visit my child in Tanzania. He stayed for weeks. They did not bury my son for two weeks because they were expecting me. They apparently sent a fax that I should be fetched to go to my sonís funeral and apparently the people who received the fax in South Africa replied saying that theyíd gone to Samís mother (that is myself) and Iíd been ill with a stroke and I said they must bury my child. That is how they buried him because theyíd received a false report. That is how they went ahead with the burial and they were shocked when they saw me. I went in July telling them that nobody said I must go to a funeral and that I never received such a report. I came back.
What shocks me is that our children were in a struggle for liberation, they fought. People came back, the ill came back before me but my child was not brought back. They watched him dying, dying of what they know of, the poison theyíd given him. They did not give me the opportunity to look after my child. I could have taken him to doctors or to the hospital but I was not given that opportunity and I do not know the reason. When I asked what my child was ill from I was referred from one person to another and the final report was that my child was ill with aids. That is all.
MRS KOLOTI: Siyabulela Phezisa was with my son at school and in Tanzania. I think he is working in Bisho because when he came to visit me and we were talking about this he said to me when Tamsanqa was ill in Tanzania we were together. He said to me he was the one who was supposed to come back with him but during that period he was sent to another country to attend a certain course. He said he was surprised to hear that Tamsanqa died in Tanzania because he was supposed to be returned back.
MRS KOLOTI: As our children left the country and their colleagues came back we as the parents of those who did not come back due to different reasons are affected because the children who came back are supporting their families. If my child was here in 1986 he promised to do certain things for me and our home but unfortunately now he passed away and I donít know who is going to fulfill his promises to me. I donít know who is going to support me. As he was buried in that country and Iím a Xhosa person I would like his bones to be exhumed so that when I think of him I will be able to go and visit his grave. I also have two children who are still at school.
REV FINCA: Before we let you go I have one question, when you got to Tanzania you were told that they were sending messages to you that your son was sick and they waited two weeks for you to come to attend his funeral and a Mr Stofili was given a message to send to you.