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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 09 June 1997


Day 1


Case Number EC1592/96 ELN

REV FINCA: We now call Linda Sophia Tonisi.

REV XUNDU: Please stand up Maíam.


MR SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mrs Tonisi you are here to talk about Masibulele Maxwell Tonisi, is that correct?

MRS TONISI: Yes, that is correct.

MR SANDI: How are you related to him?

MRS TONISI: Heís my son.

MR SANDI: Your story is similar to the story already told by one of the witnesses. If I remember clearly the witness before the one was there. When did he go Angola?

MRS TONISI: He left this country in 1981 but Iím not sure of the month.

MR SANDI: Before going into details about his disappearance please tell us briefly about his lifestyle before he left the country especially concerning the political activities.

MRS TONISI: I donít have knowledge about his politics but it is clear that he was a political activist because he died in Angola. When he was involved in political activities in the township I wasnít here because I was at work.

MR SANDI: How old was he at that time?

MRS TONISI: He left the country in 1981.

MR SANDI: Was he twenty three years old?

MRS TONISI: He was born in 1961.

MR SANDI: Was he working or was he still at school at the time?

MRS TONISI: He was still at school but he had left school and got a job in West Bank.

MR SANDI: Let us start in 1981 Mr Tonisi when he left the country. What happened?

MRS TONISI: He left the country in 1981 when he came back from work. The days passed and he didnít come back home. Because I was sleeping in my employerís home I didnít know when he left.

The following week on a Thursday my daughter said that the Special Branch Police from Cambridge came asking for Masibulele Tonisi, asking his whereabouts and they said they did not know where he was. The Special Branch Police said that he was in Maseru and they asked for his parent they told them that Iím at work and I would come back during the weekend. They came back the following week on Thursday and I was at home. They asked me questions about him as to whether he was still at school, how old he was and where he was. I said that I didnít know and they told me he was in Maseru but they wanted him to come back to East London. I asked why and they said that the Government was looking for him then I asked them where I am going to find him.

They then left that Thursday and the following week when I got home my children told me the police came with three vans and they searched the house saying they were looking for letters from Masibulele in Maseru. My children asked them how they knew that he was writing letters because he didnít write any letters to us. The police would come now and then asking about his whereabouts they also asked for my employers address and they went there to ask the whereabouts of Masibulele. We heard that he was in East Germany and then after a while we heard he was in Angola.

MR SANDI: Excuse me Mrs Tonisi, at the time you heard he was in Germany, Angola and all these places, who was giving you this information?

MRS TONISI: We would hear from people in the township that they were in these different places. We did not receive any letters from him and he never phoned us.

MR SANDI: He didnít give a message to a person from outside?

MRS TONISI: No, we did not even receive a letter from him but we read in a newspaper in 1984 that he had passed away.

MR SANDI: What newspaper was this?

MRS TONISI: These papers at the taxi rank and they had lists as well as pictures of people who died in Angola. This man saw Masibulele Tonisi in this list and because he knew our family he brought the list to us. Thatís how we found out that he died in Angola. I then did nothing because nobody came to tell me that he died.

MR SANDI: You did not find out what happened in Angola and why he died?

MRS TONISI: No, I didnít find out. That is why I came here. I would like to know who killed him, who buried him and why because Iím his mother and I didnít attend his funeral.

MR SANDI: Is that your request Mrs Tonisi?

MRS TONISI: Yes, I would like his bones to be exhumed.

MR SANDI: Is that all Maíam or do you have any other requests?

MRS TONISI: No, I donít have any other requests.

MR SANDI: Thank you Mrs Tonisi, thank you Mr Chairperson.

REV FINCA: Mrs Tonisi maybe you have already answered this question, did you have any contact with the ANC after it was unbanned to try and find out what happened?


REV FINCA: You did not go to the ANC offices?


REV FINCA: What was the reason, why did you not got to them and ask them so that you could find out what happened?

MRS TONISI: I didnít ask anything Sir.

REV FINCA: Thank you Maíam. Mrs Tonisi after the following two witnesses we will thank all of you at the same time.

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