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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type TRUTH AND RECONCILIATIOIN COMMISSION
Starting Date 22 April 1996
Ms Ngudle - Mr Ngudle, mother and son welcome to the Commission hearing. We are very-very delighted to see you. Would you like to use the earphones or am I coming through can you hear me all right I you could just tell me can you hear me all right? Can we just check that to make absolute - ja that sounds much better.
Do you want me to try it again, is that okay, right. As I mentioned to the first witness one of the requirements is the taking of the oath and I would like to ask you if you are prepared to do that? Would you please stand.
In a moment I am going to ask Mary Burton to assist you in telling your story. It goes back a very long time in fact in 1963 legislation was passed in Parliament which enabled the police to detain people or a maximum of 90 days without trial.
That of course increased in subsequent years. But three months - perhaps a little more than three months after that, Khulile Looksmart Solwandle Ngudle, was detained. He was amongst the very first South Africans to die in detention and youíve come to tell us that story and I am going to ask Mary Burton if she will lead you and help you to do that.
We were very poor, we didnít know what to do. After a while his cousin came - the husband to his sister. I asked her where is your brother-in-law, and she say no, my brother-in-law is not here, he got arrested. And I asked her how long is he going to be in jail, then he said no heís been several - heís been arrested several times.
Thatís when I told him that my husband is not sending any money to me. After a while, we were still living that kind of life, one day in 1963 September the police came in - in my house where I was living with my mother, my mother-in-law. They came to tell me that my - Looksmart has passed away. My mother asked them what happened they said he killed himself, so my mother cried and we all joined her. And then the police left. They went back to where they came from, we didnít even know where they were from - was that your home.
In the same week black policeman came in - this policeman said they want us to go Middledrift, myself and my mother-in-law so that we can be given a ticket to Pretoria. My mother-in-law said I cannot go to Middledrift because I have a small baby, my baby was a month old. My mother said the person who was going to go there, will be her, sheíll be the one to go to Pretoria. She left for Pretoria, she was given the ticket. When she got there, she went to the first prison. When they asked what they can help her with, she said I am here to bury my son. They asked the name of the son, he said itís Looksmart.
They said she must go to the second prison, when she got there, she was also asked what is her purpose of her visit, she said I am here to bury my son, I was told to come here. She was also sent to a third prison, when she got there, she was also asked - this was a very tall building. There were other woman from Pretoria, she was also asked - what is the purpose of your visit, she said I am here to bury my son, I am told to come here.
Then she was told to wait a little while. They said who is this - name of your son, he said he is Looksmart, he was told to wait. They are going to come and they are going to take her to an upper floor. While she was still waiting, she said she is looking for her clothes - for his clothes. Nobody answered him - her with the question of clothes. While she was still waiting, she was asked by the other woman what she was doing here, she told them the same story that she was still here to bury her son.
But now in all this prisons Iíve been told that I should come to this tall building. What she was told by this woman, was that she must just run away from this place and go to the station, nobody is being buried here, this is where people are being killed. She must just escape as fast as she can. And she did that and she took the train and she left for home.
When she got home we asked her were is Looksmart buried, she said no, instead I was nearly killed, they didnít even give - give her the clothes, but he was just advised by this other woman to run away to the station before she gets killed. While we still sitting at home a telegram came in from Zithobile, her brother he was here in Cape Town. He said they were still investigating about the case.
What - they said what happened was I am the one who is being wanted now. Now he sent me money so that I can come here to Cape Town, so I came to Cape Town. When I got here in Cape Town, I went to Guguletu, in [indistinct] - when I got there to my uncle, the police came, they took me to the police station. The police asked me what did Zithobile said to you.
I said no he didnít say anything to me. He said are you sure - they said are you sure he didnít say anything, I said yes I am. They said you are going to go to Pretoria, so I asked who am I going to go with. And they said I am going to go with the special branch and I asked how will I do that when I have a small baby, so they said we will all go, the three of us.
So we all left to Pretoria, the three of us, including the wife of the special branch police. When we got there they said Beauty we are going to put you into prison you are going to sleep in this prison because we have no place to - for you to sleep in. So the police in Pretoria took me so I asked where am I going to sleep, then they said you are going to sleep in this linen room for the police because we have no place for you. And my child was crying, so I asked what are we going to do with my baby, because she needs to be bathed, they gave me water with a bucket so that I can wash the baby, so I did.
They brought food, I refused it. I slept in that room until the morning. In the morning the police came to fetch me telling me they said Zithobile is here with the lawyers, so I left, we went to Court. In Court I didnít say anything the lawyers were doing all the talking. They said to me your husband wasnít killed by us, he hanged himself.
Afterwards we left, I just saw people leaving, so I also left, I was told that I should also leave hurriedly, the police just said I must be - escape quickly to the station, running away from the police because when they - the police, if the police see us they will - they will shoot us. So we took a different secret routes, we went to my uncle.
Zithobile left because he was on holiday and I was left in Orlanda, he was the one who was going to - to the Courts. Because I was too nervous, I canít even tell you what was going on in that Court. In the third instance, to the Court proceedings, the lawyers said afterwards, they said Beauty, these policeman are refusing with the witnesses in here.
We have lots of witnesses inside, people who saw what was happening, but they simply refuse that the witness should come forward. I stayed for three months in Johannesburg, only God will answer your case, thatís how I came back. Something else that I have forgotten. When I came back, I was coming back home, I was told that the boers were keeping on coming in at night looking for Beauty they were going to give her money for the death of her husband.
During that my mother-in-law was injured, because she was running away from this police. My mother-in-law escaped, she got cut by a rock and she - in the fields just under her foot, then she was treated in hospital for this. After that the policeman didnít come again, people were coming in with the special branches, they were, they kept on asking how am I living on with my children.
I would just tell them that we are poor, there is nothing for us to eat. And after that I went to look for work for my children, I have been working since then, my child now are at home - are at school. So the questioning of you and your family went on for quite a long time even after your husbandís death.
No I didnít believe that, they showed us the photograph and they told us that he was arrested and on the photo he was in the accompaniment of the police. So it was clear that he didnít hang himself. They publicised him showing him and saying that he has committed suicide. They said he just the pyjama tie to hang himself.
[indistinct] kids what can happen, I am very poor with my children, I just want Looksmartís bones to come back so that we can bury them, we never got a chance to bury him and we not satisfied with that. As we are sitting here we donít have a home. My children are at school and itís very difficult for me because I am not even working.
I know that you said you felt that when you were called to appear in the Court, nobody had listened to what you had to say. I hope that you feel that youíve had a chance now to tell us who are here and that many other people who will be paying attention, who - that we are now listening to what you have to say. I am very happy.
Please make yourself comfortable and take your time. You were six years old at the time of your fathers arrest and I understand he was arrested in Cape Town, but you didnít hear until September - your family was then notified that he had died during his detention is that correct. You were a young child and your mother had a small baby, would you like to tell us what you remember of that time.
There are some things that I still remember, even thought I was still small. I still remember the police coming in and when they arrived the grownupís all just screamed. This was something - this was a very familiar scene that when a person has passed away people - people cry and this small ones would know that okay something has happened.
Then we heard okay my father has passed away. When we heard that he has passed away, we expected that okay there will be a funeral as usual when a person has passed away. But in this case what surprised us was the - the coming in of white men, especially at night - they had absolutely no respect. And we all had to run away and run away - and run from them. As my mother has said, that during the escapes my grandmother got injured.
I remember that my mother when she left for Pretoria, to the Court proceedings, that time we were at home living with my grandmother. We were waiting - waiting that my mother would come back then we would hear what was going on in Pretoria. We kept on hearing from the people that my father was killed by the boers even though we were small, we did not really know what exactly what was going on. As we grew up, we kept on hearing how people are being treated even at home as we had grew up my mother kept on telling us that inn - during the inquest, they were told that my father had - had hanged himself, even in the inquest nobody was - nobody was found responsible for it.
The lawyers were looking for witnesses but now the witness were prevented from coming up. One of the witnesses would be mentioned, and it was Tlale who was with my father in the cell that time. It looks as if when my mother was coming - my father was coming back, he was given food by Mr Tlale but he refused the food and his last words was this electrical shock has really injured me.
That is now why - that is now why that the people didnít believe that he hanged himself. We - since then weíve been trying to find out the truth hoping that one day we will know the exact story because we didnít believe anything about the hanging. There is one thing that we know at home that he loved us a lot. So is that when he came back from work, we had just a little time to go out an play, he would be with us throughout me an my bigger brother. I use to - he use to teach us the reversional?? songs.
Now we are very sure that he use to love us. At the same time we knew that he loved the struggle, he was living for the struggle of the people. That is why we believe that he gave up everything that he loved, such like - such as his family, he gave up his family and his own life. We do not believe that he killed himself because of his love that we all know and to the whole nation.
I have no knowledge about that, Ms [indistinct] Bunting as I usually hear about her, she tried to look for him, he tried to meet with some comrades in Gauteng. But as far as I know she never - she never found him. But in December as a person who was - always looking for the truth, when I was in Parliament, I met the Secretary General of the Senate, Mr Govan Mbeki he told me how my father died.
During the time they were in Prison in Pretoria. He told me that my father was tortured before he died, he told him in person that the boers were torturing him. So Mr Mbeki says that day when my father told him this, and the following day he was told that my father had passed away. Now that gives us evidence that my father was killed.
I went to school after a long period, not going to work, because I have been a student all along under very-very difficult situations. Such that in 1981, I had to start working in East London, even there I didnít get a permanent job Iíve been in and out of jobs. In 1985 I never worked again after 1985 for seven years.
And in 1991 I discovered an advertisement from New Nation where they will - where Khanya College was inviting applications from students who want to enrol there and I was also lucky to be one of the students to be accepted at Khanya College. That is now how I started to study because there it was - education there was free. When - after I passed there I went to the University of Cape Town, I finished my degree last year.
This year I am busy with my Diploma, but now because of the pressure that I am getting from my mother who is not working, I am now forced to drop out from school, there is one of our - of my siblings whoís in the college at the moment.
No-one else is working at the moment. We are all depending on my motherís pension. And now he - she can not afford all of us now. Now this is why now I have to drop out and help her. As she had said that - seeing that we didnít bury our father we would really like to have a proper funeral just like everybody else. But we donít really have the power to do that and the means to do that. We would really like that if there is a way to be helped in that regard. We would also like to be helped that - to ask that if - if the Commission can help us with the - with my siblings who are still at school.
Because now we believe that if my father was still alive, we would of been brought up just like all the other kids and got all the other privileges just like every other child who was loved by his father.
We have certainly have been taking note of all of those things. I understand that one of the witnesses who told you of your father during the time that he was in prison was a comrade of his Mr Christmas Tinto, now Senator Tinto. And I believe that Senator Tinto is also willing to corroborate the evidence is that correct?
Yes that is true. Now I remember that Senator Christmas Tinto in one of the occasions when we remembered our father, he mentioned the fact that if the death of my father the way he knows it. And he saw him when he was arrested and he was - he also saw him when he was put into Caledon Square, and I think that he also can help in that regard.
He said my father whispered to his ear as the Rivonia Trialist were - were put together with the other prisoners during the exercises. He told him that he was going to give him a note, just a little paper so as he did - he did drop the little paper when he was just passing next to him.
Now as a - Mr Mbeki just pretended as if he was tying his shoelace, and then he picked up the paper and he read it in his own time. Now in the paper it was written that he was being tortured, that is now my father [intervention]
I believe that you have heard the testimony that has been given by Ms Ngudle and Mr Ngudle, the wife and son of Looksmart Solwandle Ngudle. And that you have some further information that you can give us on his death.
During the time of our arrest, under the Act, under the [indistinct] Act, we collected ourselves knowing that we are going to be arrested. I met Looksmart Ngudle - Solwandle, he told me that he was sure that when he was - he was [indistinct] - when he was arrested he was going to be killed.
Two weeks after that, I was also arrested. I was kept in Caledon Square. During the three weeks that I was arrested, I heard a loud sound the policemen were celebrating. They were saying we got Looksmart. I donít even think that they knew his surname because they were using Looksmart which is his first name.
After a little while I was in then upper cell, my cell was just directly facing the steps. They came with him rushing, kicking him, beating him up going up the stairs. What I noticed after looking at him while he was going up the stairs, is that as a person who had beard, they pulled out his beard on half of his face. It wasnít shaved as usual, it was just some hair pulled out of the face.
He was bleeding heavily on it - from his mouth. Something that I donít really know happened after that, my cell was opened by the police. They threw him in, after that they were surprised to see that there was another person in here - that was me. And now they pulled him out - during that short period, there were two policemen who had beaten him up.
It was Sergeant Greeff and Sergeant Van Wyk who are known as Spyker. Both those boers were beating him up. He tried to say something, just during that time these boys were trying to ask me what he was trying to say. So I told the police that I - I donít know what he said because I didnít hear anything. They took him away to the next cell and then went down again.
And then in the morning there was this loud noise again. I shouted outside through the window because I could - the other people from other cells as well I tried to shout to tell the others that Looksmart is in the boers hands and they really beat him up and I think that they are going to kill him, considering the way they were beating him up. Now we went to sleep, on the second day I didnít see him.
On the third day I tried to be on guard just to listen what is actually going on, on the stairs. Now I saw - I saw him with the police, but now they had covered him, handcuffed him behind his back. Now there were three more boers with Van Wyk and Greeff. That was actually, that was the very last time we all saw Looksmart, Solwandle with our naked eye. That is how I saw what happened.
I donít know for how long because we went into the ANC - we joined the ANC on different times, I joined the ANC in 1991, others were already in the organisation. I canít really differentiate when was it that he joined the organisation, but itís been a long time already.
Thank you a lot sir, itís obviously that this thing started a long-long time ago as we can see now that you are in high position. We shouldnít forget that, where we come from. Thank you very much sir, you too madam and you son, thank you.