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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 11 June 1997
Location EAST LONDON
Names BONGANI NONDULA
Case Number EC0351/96ELN MDANTSANE
CHAIRPERSON: Bongani Nondula, Nomvuyiseko Forosi, Mtutuzeli Sibewu and Michael Nothwala. We welcome you Bongani Nondula, Nomvuyiseko Forosi, Mtutuzeli Sibewu and we would like our Reverend Xundu to help you take an oath.
ADV SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Let us start with Mr Nondula. Mr Nondula, when I am looking at your statement I see that you are going to talk about different occasions when you would be detained and tortured from 1977. Is that correct Mr Nondula?
MR NONDULA: In 1977 on the first of October a week after we buried Steve Biko, it was on a Saturday morning. My mother woke me up. I could see the way she woke up, I could see that was she was apprehensive. I saw a policeman, a Black policeman, and I found out that it was Mr Nhonhonho and there were also White policemen with him. My mother gave me my clothes and I put on my clothes. We left. They asked me whether I was Bongani Nondula and they took me to Mdantsane Police Station in NU1.
When we got to the police station I was taken to a van. I was alone. I think it was three in the morning at that time. It was still dark. They left me there and I could see that some vans were coming in and they were picking up people, taking them to Mdantsane Station.
MR NONDULA: I can say that I was a member of East London Students Cultural Association. I was very active in that organisation together with Mzukisi Skweyiya. We would come to meet in the Prespretarian Church.
MR NONDULA: As there was a conflict in 1976, students were fighting against the use of Afrikaans and that led to conflict all over South Africa and students were shot in Soweto, 16th of June. Everything involving students and organisations, the police were suspicious. Even if we were together we would not be happy, because the private cars of the police would surround us.
MR NONDULA: After a while one police, Fikile Zibi, came in. He called, he said I am a dog and he slapped me in the face. They expected me to cry and they would take advantage if I can cry. I did not cry. They took me to another car.
MR NONDULA: He was the one who came to take me out of the van to one private car. He slapped me in the face and he dragged me to this car. In this care there were investigators, Black men. They put me in the back seat. Next to me was a person who was also detained. There was another police. I use to see him around. I think he is working for the CID. On the front seat were White men. The one behind the wheel was Mr van Wyk. Van Wyk was looking at me through the mirror. They said that today is the first of October, we will show you. You are going to tell us the people you were with in Mr Botamanie's church on Wednesday where you were taking a decision that today you are going to burn White people.
MR NONDULA: We only knew him as van Wyk. Just like Schoeman. We knew that he was Captain Schoeman. When I read in the newspaper I heard that he was Captain P S Schoeman who was working with my case. What I am trying to say is that I do not know him, I do not know his full names, but I can identify him.
MR NONDULA: No, they took me out of the van to the private car to Cambridge Police Station in East London, because we were in Mdantsane NU1 they were collecting everybody by their cars and while we were all there they took us to Cambridge.
MR NONDULA: When we got to Cambridge Police Station they took me to a separate office, I was alone. Not after a long time, one police, late Qambata, came in. He was the one who started assaulting me. He then tried to strangle me while I was lying down. I tried to stop him. He said that I was fighting back and he stopped. One White man came in saying that I am a terrorist and this White man also tortured me. He kicked me in my ribs and I fell down. I was then kicked and assaulted. After a while there was one man, Captain Schoeman, he was sitting on the other side of the table just like you. I was on the other side. The police were surrounding me.
This White man was asking me questions. The others would beat me and slap me and kick me and this White man at this time was questioning me asking why did you kill the police. I said that I never killed any police. He said that after Biko's funeral you came with busses to Highway and you killed two Black policemen. I said, no, I was not there. They beat me, they assaulted me, they wanted me to tell them truth. I said I am telling you the truth, I do not know anything about that.
MR NONDULA: No, I was not taken to court. They kept me in Cambridge Police Station on that day. On the following day, in the afternoon, they took me to Lloyd Police Station. All this time I was in solitary confinement. They took me to Lloyd Police Station. I stayed on Sunday. The following day, on Monday, I was taken to Fleet Street Police Station. In Fleet Street Police Station I was detained with someone who was arrested in connection with crime in Duncan Village.
MR NONDULA: In Fleet Street White man came late at night. They were going to lock these cells, they were checking us before locking the cells. The man next to me said that the White men are coming. I was sleeping at the time. This man got up and I was sleeping. This White man said that stand up Kaffir.
MR NONDULA: I was taken to Zwelitsha, Zone six, the headquarters office of CCIS, the Central Intelligence Services of Ciskei in Zone six. There was Captain Vuyani Genda in that room. He was on his way out when he saw me getting in. He said, Bongani Nondula, ...
ADV SANDI: Excuse me Mr Nondula, in your statement Mr Vuyani Genda was not mentioned. I would like you, what you are going to say about him to tell us afterwards, because we are supposed to give him a notice that his name is going to be mentioned. Did you appear in court in 1981 after you were arrested?
MR NONDULA: In 1982 I was charged of terrorism and then I was acquitted. Again in 1984. We were arrested as the East London Youth Congress. I was the President of this organisation. We were arrested in NU13 in that, in the prison there. We were also found not guilty.
MR NONDULA: In 1977 this affected me, this affected my ears. I could not hear clearly. My left ear, even today, I could only hear through my right ear and in my body I do still hear pain, but unfortunately I do not have a medical record in terms of my injuries, because when I laid a complaint to the police they took me to the hospital and they said that the doctor did not see anything wrong with me.
ADV SANDI: In conclusion, Mr Nondula, do you have requests you would like to put forward to the Commission so that it can forward them to the President concerning the issues or the incidents happened in your life?
MR NONDULA: What I would like to request Sir is that I do sympathise with the Government, because now it will be his responsibility to support me, but before there can be reconciliation between myself and the people who did this to me, I would like them to understand that they have destroyed my future. More than two decades I have been doing nothing for myself. I do not even have something to wear. This also affected me physically, my health is not well. It is not only my ear, because in Winter I do not have clothes to wear and the kind of food I am eating affects my health. Again I would like treatment for my ear and the doctors will see what to do for me in terms of a hearing aid. I am talking in terms of reparation and rehabilitation. I would like to be helped to get a certain course so that I can be able to open my own business. I would not like to be under someone who would not tolerate my situation.
ADV SANDI: Thank you, Mr Nondula, for your testimony. Maybe there will be questions from my colleagues. Let us go to Nomvuyiseko Forosi. I apologise, Ms Forosi, for spending such a long time to Mr Nondula. You have been waiting for a long time. Your story is similar to Mr Nondula's. Is that correct?
MS FOROSI: First of all, I was in a church. There was a practice, a youth practice. Whilst we were still in the church our Priest said that there was something happening in Highway and he told us to go home, because something was happening in Highway. On that day it was Mr Steve Biko's funeral. The Priest offered us to take us home, because I was staying in NU1. I got home. In the afternoon a police by the name of Mphathi Sizani, who was my neighbour, came to me saying, telling me to stay at home the whole day, because the police are coming to get me. There are rumours that I was responsible for the death of the two police in Highway. I was shocked, because on the day of the funeral I was not there, I was in church. I knew inside, in my heart, that I was not involved.
MS FOROSI: They came at 11 and they knocked on the door. We were alone at home. My mother and my father were not there. We were orphans, we were staying alone. We opened the door. The police said that where is Nomvuyiseko Forosi. I said I am Nomvuyiseko Forosi. These were strong men. I stood up. They told me to say, "Power is ours", because they said that I was in Highway. I was lost, because that was, I did not know what they were talking about. My brother said please take me, because my sister is still very young. They said if he, if she is innocent we will bring her back. My brother begged them not to assault me. They promised.
When we got out of the house the very same people who promised not to assault me, they kicked me and they slapped me. At that time the police did not have any respect for women. They were angry, asking where Toy Wengama is. I was dizzy and I was confused at that time. I could not even know where Toy Wengama was staying. They wanted me to show them Toy Wengama's home. It was clear that they knew this house. When we got to Toy Wengama's house they were still assaulting me. They were clapping me. Some of them were laughing at me.
MS FOROSI: No, they did not take me to police station. We went to Toy Wengama's home. When we got there the gate was locked. They told me to call her, to call Toy Wengama. At this time they were assaulting me. Some of them were beating me with their batons.
MS FOROSI: Yes, at the time when they were picking us at our homes they said that we killed two policemen in Highway. They said that these police were killed when people were coming from Steve Biko's funeral and I was not in that funeral. I was attending church on that day.
MS FOROSI: When we got to the police station they started assaulting me, because I said to them we were tired, we needed to sit down. In the police station I asked them to give us chairs, because we were tired. They beat me and they kicked me.
MS FOROSI: We went to the Court of Law and the case was postponed. I think that it was postponed, because they wanted us to get better, because we were swollen. If our family members would come and visit us they would not be allowed to see us. They would be sent to different police stations.
MS FOROSI: No, they were not allowed to come in, but after a while I was having black spots in my face. It was difficult for me to tell my family members that I have, I was swollen and I had a difficult with my left ear.
MS FOROSI: I do have a request, Mr Chairperson, that the people who tortured me must try and support me, because they are the ones who tortured me. I would like them to pay a sum of R20 000,00 for damages so that my children can get something. I cannot even hear properly with my left ear as a result of the injuries sustained in this torture. I would like the police who were assaulting me to pay me and I know their names.
MS FOROSI: I do not remember, but our Priest told us that something was happening in Highway. He told us to go home. I am not sure whether it was a memorial service or his funeral, but I was accused of attending that funeral.
MS FOROSI: Yes, he was, but there were many of us. I know the people who were leading me. When you joined the organisation you were not interested in knowing the names of the Comrades, but you just wanted to join the organisation so that we can get a membership card, but we use to hide these membership cards, but what surprises us is that when you join the organisation the police would know although you would join secretly in the office. The police would know and even when we were released from prison we were given an order not to be more than five people in the street.
ADV SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Let us go to Mr Sibewu. Mr Sibewu, when I am looking at your statement I see that your story is also similar to the two witnesses who just testified. You were arrested, detained and harassed by the Ciskeian Police. Is that correct?
ADV SANDI: Please tell us, Mr Sibewu, what happened to you? MR SIBEWU: In 1980 the Ciskeian Police came to my home. They broke the door. They harassed me, they searched my house. At that time I was staying alone.
MR SIBEWU: Yes, I was at home. They took me out of the house assaulting me. They took me to a police van. At the time there was schools uprising in Mdantsane. They took me to the police station. I was detained for four months. They would interrogate me asking me why I visited Lesotho and I denied everything. I did not have any knowledge of anything. They said that I was working for underground, I was working for banned organisations and I am a communist. They showed me a file as I was arrested in 1978. They said that the people in which I am recruiting for ANC, they want these people to kill me. They will try, they will try to make these people in which they said I was recruiting, kill me.
MR SIBEWU: They beat me up while they were taking me out of the house. We were then arrested with other school children in cell number 14. We had no blankets and at about eight they released us, transferring us to another cell. When we were being taken out of that cell, a number of men came to me and they assaulted me. I tried to fight back, but others tried to stop, to stop them. The people who were there screamed and one of those people were Mr Mateli saying that why are you killing our children which is when they stopped.
MR SIBEWU: Since I was arrested, Sir, from 1978 to 1980 I did not take any steps, because of the circumstances at that time, because the lawyers would be arrested with us. If you would lay a charge or if you would go to an attorney, you would be harassed together with that attorney.
MR SIBEWU: First of all Sir, the people who witnessed the harassments and torture and me and that the police would come to surround my home at night. The people who witnessed this advised me to come forward to the Commission and because the past Government is still having certain influence I think these police would come again and try to kill me. So they advised me to come forward to report my matter. They asked me whether I can forgive the perpetrators or I want them to pay me. I said that it will be God or we will see what to do with them. He will be the one who will help me through the pain I suffered due to them, because they did not only arrest me, but they destroyed my reputation to White people who were helping me and those White people who were trying to help me were also harassed although they asked me not to mention their names in the Truth Commission.
MR NOTHWALA: First of all, let me put it this way, the police came at home looking for Michael Nothwala. They found my mother. My mother was old at that time. We were on our way home at that time. When I got home my mother told me that, Michael, police Ncoko and Mostert were looking for you. If Michael, if they cannot find me, if they can find me they are going to shoot me and put me next to the tree in my home and bury me there. When I heard that my mother was being harassed by the police, because they were looking for me, they took my mother to the police station. I was in Ndevana at the time, because I was running away from the police.
My brother, Skweriri, came to Ndevana. He told me that our mother was arrested. She was in prison, because they were looking for me. He told me to go to the police station so that they can release our mother.
MR NOTHWALA: We were kept in Mdantsane Police Station. Ncoko and Mostert came at night. At about 12 midnight they called out our names, Tobie Konyalobese, they say Michael Nothwala. We stood up and the doors opened. After that we, the, we went out. We saw Mostert, a White policeman, and Ncoko, a Black policeman. They said that we were terrorists and they were looking for us saying that we were fighting against the Government. We said that we do not know anything about that. They used a 4.1 white car. Mostert was driving. They took us to Fleet Street in a small room. You could not even see down. We had to stand up the whole day. Tobie Konyalobese was called to one office. We advised each other with my friend that if they are assaulting you, you must scream so that I can hear what was happening.
After that Tobie Konyalobese screamed begging them not to kill him. I could hear that he was being assaulted. After that I was called. I got in the office. Tobie Konyalobese was released and they took, they closed, they took him to that small cell. When I was in this room they told me to sit down. They asked me what was happening in Highway. I said I know nothing about Highway.
MR NOTHWALA: We were coming from Steve Biko's funeral. After the funeral we heard rumours on our way back that there was something happening in Highway. We were told not to go through Highway, to take the other way and the bus took us to Tandabhantu.
MR NOTHWALA: When we were coming from King William's Town we did not hear anything about two dead policemen. When we were our way there was a garage in which we stopped and we did not go to Highway, we took the other way. The bus went through Tandabhantu Cash Store.
MR NOTHWALA: Yes, I can tell you. When I was released in Waainek in 1979, on the 17th of November when I was released from prison I came back home. Within three months I was vomiting blood, because of the injuries sustained in prison. I tried to treat myself. Even last week I vomited blood again.
MR NOTHWALA: In 1979 I was released. I tried to continue to go back to school. I did standard seven in Mazomhle in 1980. In December of that same year my mother died and she left an amount of money. She told me to continue with my studies. I went to David Mama to complete standard seven. After that I could support myself financially. Even now I do not have parents. I decided to go and look for work in order to build my home, but even today I am not working.
MR NOTHWALA: Yes, I do need medical treatment, because when I was tortured by Mostert and Ncoko I told them that I suffered from asthma. They did not care about that. They put a tube in my face and they said that I was going to tell them the truth. If I was ready to tell them the truth I would step down. I suffer from asthma.
CHAIRPERSON: We would like to thank the four of you for coming before the Commission to give us your testimonies. I think most of the people, most people in this country, they know Steve Biko. We had visitors here from America. They wanted to go and visit Steve Biko's grave, but I think most people are not aware that because you attended Steve Biko's funeral you were tortured this way. I think the purpose of the Commission is to give a chance to those people who were not known to come forward and to say what happened to them. We thank you for coming forward and for telling us what had happened to you so that South Africa can know that the people like Steve Biko have contributed in this country and others who are well known have contributed in this country, but there are people whose names are not mentioned. They have also contributed a lot for the liberation of this country. We thank you for bringing forward these painful stories to the Commission.
One person said tomorrow, yesterday that maybe the Commission will not do anything. It will just hand over a report to the President, but we cannot deny the fact that this process of the Truth Commission has given people a chance to come forward and to tell the whole country about what happened to them. We thank the four of you and we have noted your requests before us. Our job is to make a report and forward that report to the President. He will be the one to decide what to do as he the one who is supposed to take a final decision. We thank you and we will take a break up until two o' clock.