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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS
Starting Date 07 August 1996
Location HELDERBERG TYGERBERG
CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon and welcome to you Mr August, thank you very much for accompanying your wife and welcome to you as well. Ma’am please relax I know that it's been a long day, and we would like to thank you for your patience and your tolerance. If I understand this correctly you are the only one that will be giving evidence is that correct, and your husband is just here to lend you some moral support, is that right?
Maybe I can ask you just to move a little bit closer to the mic, because it's important that people in the audience hear your story as well. We know it has been a long wait for you today, you've been with us since the weekend and I know it's been a very long wait and we really want to add our thanks to that of Denzil for you being so patience and waiting for so long to tell us your story. Maybe I can ask you now to start by introducing yourself and then to move on to tell us about your story which is about your daughter, your daughter was also Sarah van Wyk, and I would like you to start now. --- I am Sarah August, I live in Bellville South. It was a terrible year for me the year of 1985. On the 29th of August well there were riots, on this particular day my daughter was still working, she had always worked. And on this particular day she was on her way back from work while it was still so active there, she was coming down the road and there were Casspirs riding in convoy down the road. And I still told them there at home that you people shouldn't go out to go and watch these things because you could get hurt. But then they said to me no they were going - they just wanted to look - they just wanted to see how these things looked and they then - when the Casspirs drove past they went out and they went to go and watch. And when they got outside to - in the street, the policemen started shooting tear gas. Half the people ran away, and they also ran away. But in the time it was so dark with this - with smoke and they started shooting bullets after that and the one bullet struck her. But we did not know then that she was - she had been shot and Dina Baron brought us her scarf and her shoes and told us that the children had been shot, her daughter as well. At the time we went to the police for information to find out if they hadn't been locked up or anything and we phoned the hospital, the hospital said that there were children, wounded children who were admitted. But at the time we didn't even think that she had been killed. My husband and a friend of his went to the hospital by car. At approximately 7:30 the Thursday evening she was shot, but it took so long before the ambulance was called and the ambulance arrived, that it was very dark by the time they came. My husband and then could only leave at about eleven o'clock because we were terrified. And when they got to the hospital they were told that one had died, so they should go to Salt River and then left and when they got there, they were shown her clothes. And I had already told him what she had on, so they showed him her clothes and he knew that she has been shot dead. And up until now nobody has come to us - none of the perpetrators have approached us. All we know is that our child has been shot dead and that we have buried her, and nothing has happened as far as this case is concerned.
Ms August how old was Sarah when she died, when she was shot, how old was she then? --- She was 21 years old ma’am, she had just turned 21 on the 2nd of August in that year, on the 3rd of August we celebrated her birthday and the 29th of August she died.
Was she at all involved in any political activity, was she engaged in any activity or riot activity outside? --- No ma’am she was not a politician - she was always just with us, we always use to go to church, she was the main singer in church, the lead singer.
Ms August since your daughter died, how has that affected your family and yourself, what impact has this death had on your family and on your life? --- It has affected us a great deal, to think that she was a healthy person, she wasn't someone that use to go to dances or she didn't lead a very outgoing life that the police could just come and take her life. It was very painful for us, but what can we do, we had to accept it and it was the hardest thing for us to do. The worst of all was that nobody came to us to tell us that your child was there and I shot at her. Nobody did that, she was just shot and that was that. And that really hurt us. If they had injured her it probably wouldn't have been as painful as them having shot her dead. Today is the first time that I can actually talk about her, in almost eleven years but I am just grateful that I can just talk and I am so happy that there is a Truth Commission, I really want to thank you, for listening to this case and we decided, we had initially decided to just let it be, but we appreciate the fact that there are still people that care about us, for us people that suffered and our people - our loved ones that were killed.
We feel very humbled by the fact that you and your husband have come to tell us your very-very heart sore story today. And to share your grief with us, we are really very honored that you have come, we also want to acknowledge the fact that you feel that your story has been heard and acknowledged today. It is very difficult when you have lost a child, you've lost your daughter and then at the same time that nobody has come to come forward and said to you I am the person that has done this and I want to ask for forgiveness and I want to ask for forgiveness, I want to say sorry. I know that it's very-very hard to accept that. --- Ja - ja.
Maybe while we are talking about that, we can find out from you what it is that the Truth Commission can do, how is it that we as a Commission can respond to your story, what would you like us to do? --- I think it has been such a long time to renew this whole matter. But if the Truth Commission can compensate us in any way, we would appreciate it. Because us in all the time we have been heartbroken and withdrawn because a lot of people who were shot with her, received some kind of compensation from the State. But we the family that suffered the most loss haven't received anything, we received nothing and nothing was said to us. She was just shot dead and that was that, it was very difficult for us, it was very hard for us up until now as well. I think that a bit of it has left me, but not much, when I think about it like today, it is very hard for me to think about what happened to her.
We have heard what you have said ma’am, it is true that many people in your are who were shot have received some compensation, perhaps not nearly enough, but also to hear that you have received nothing and heard nothing is a task for us to ensure that we take this matter further and the reparations and rehabilitation’s committee is there and we will certainly look at your case very carefully and ensure that in some way there is some reparations for yourself and for your family. I do not have any more questions and I'd like to hand over to the Chair in case my colleagues would like to ask you some questions. --- Ja - ja.
Certainly, did you consult an attorney or try and submit a claim? --- Sir my one son by the name of Chrisjan was working at a clothing factory in Ravensmead and there was a man working with him by the name of Sampson, Mr Sampson and he said to my son that he was going to take him to an attorney to state his case. And he did so, and this attorney - this was Windvogel and we went up and down trying to get hold of them and it was very difficult to get hold of them, but we finally did. But Mr Windvogel - each time when we got to him, he would say it wasn't actually a claim that we had instituted, they did it, he would say to us that we shouldn't be in a hurry about this matter because no matter how long it took, the State would compensate us, and we would then go back. But on a certain - on a particular day we got to him and on this day he said to us that we shouldn't just come to him at any time in connection with this matter. We should wait - wait and see no matter how long it took, the State would compensate us and we left it. And we have never heard from Mr Windvogel since, he did not come to us and let us know that we had been compensated, we don't know what happened to our claim, the other people have been compensated but nothing has happened to us. We don't know if he has been compensated or what happened since then.
Would you like the Commission to follow up and try and establish what happened to your claim? --- I would be very happy if he could - he himself could come and tell us what happened to the case, so that we could know what happened.
Certainly ma’am - ma’am but I can once again just confirm what Glenda said to you, we feel for you, we understand what blow it must be when one's child who have just turned 21 gets shot dead a few days later for no apparent reason whatsoever. But we have listened to what you have said, and we have listened to your request and I would like to once again say thank you very much to you and your husband for having come and also that you have since the weekend up until now been so patient and waited the matter has been called. Thank you very much.
Look we have spoken about the matter today and up until now we do not know what could happen to it. Say for instance you people leave how will we know - how will we contact you people or how will we know what happened to this matter, because we cannot go back to those people. And I also think that the claim which was instituted by those people. He refused that we should institute a claim, we do not even know what the claim was, because we did not even sign any documents or anything because he just said to us that they were handling the claim. And in Salt River we were shown on the computer that an claim was instituted, but we were never told what the amount was, so we cannot say much about the claim. So what I would like to know is if you people leave, how we will contact you.
CHAIRPERSON: I understand what you are saying, as I explained to you, your matter is now being placed before the Commission, we have all the details, we have already started investigating, following up on this incident and as I said to you, we have already established what happened with the shooting incident, what happened in the Supreme Court, so we are already busy trying to establish some information. And we do have an office in Cape Town and as the case continues, as we - there are developments, we will contact you as soon as we have any news. So we will remain in touch with you. We are in Cape Town and we are in several other place across the country, but we will not just disappear unlike the attorney.
CHAIRPERSON: Ja, Mr August I will attend to it that the personnel give you a reference number so that when you do make contact with us you can make use of the reference number and we will know that - which file to draw is that okay - good thank you very much and we wish you every success.