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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type 1 G P MOHALE, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 30 April 1996
Location METHODIST CHURCH, JOHANNESBURG
Names GOTLA PAULINA MOHALE
Case Number GO/O133A JOHANNESBURG
DR BORAINE: Welcome to the Commission. You have been waiting a very long time, since early this morning. You must be quite exhausted, but finally your turn has come and we look forward to hearing your story. First tell me who is with you today?
DR BORAINE: We would like to welcome your mother very warmly and I am grateful that you are together today. Your story goes back to 1976 and it is a very grim story and we are going to ask you to tell us that in a moment. But first of all if you would please stand for the taking of the oath.
MS SEROKE: Good afternoon Paulina. I just want to give you some background notes about the time in 1976. The General Law Amendment Act of 1963 was still in place in 1976. This legislation allowed detention without trial and
it authorised any commissioned officer to detain, without a warrant any person suspected of political activities and to hold them without access to a lawyer for 90 days. In terms of this act and the terrorism act many people were detained in connection with the alleged recruitment of guerilla fighters in South Africa. June 16 1976 saw the outbreak of violence on a larger scale than has ever been experienced in South Africa. During this time police were engaged in countrywide arrests, both adults and children were arrested. Quite a number of children went missing and most of them were not being held by police but had gone into hiding following the house-to-house raids. It was during this time that Pauline got arrested and suffered all kinds of human rights violations, such as detention, interrogation, torture and lack of basic human needs.
Pauline in your statement you said you were arrested together with a lot of your friends in 1976, can you tell us what were you doing before you got arrested, were you working, what were you doing actually?
MS MOHALE: In 1976 I wasn't working. I had a baby, a baby boy. I was a member of SCM, Student Christian Movement. I was working with the students, that's during the time we were fighting the Afrikaans issue and the equal rights as far as education was concerned. We marched in 1976. We used to march to John Vorster. When we arrived at New Canada they started throwing teargas at us. Some of our friends died there and others were arrested. But that day I managed to escape. I wasn't arrested. Some of them were being looking after by friends but I was travelling to Swaziland. I was helping the other children to escape the country. They used to sleep under the table and throughout
But on that it happened that when we left, it was on the 16th, but I was also booked to go, because I realised it was beginning to hot-up. When we arrived at the border gate - before we arrived at the border gate there was a road block. We just saw a huge light and they stopped the driver. They told us we know that you are going to cross the border. You are going to get military training so that you can come back and start killing White people. We said no, we were lost. They arrested us and they put us in a cell in a prison near the border gate. That place was stinking, it was filthy, and I was alone, I mean I was the only girl among them, the rest were the boys, so they closed me separately from that group. We said we were coming from Krugersdorp. We told lies.
The following day the police came in a truck. They came from Krugersdorp to fetch us. They were from the Special Branch. It was Coetzee, it was Tsutsubi, a Black policeman and Berg or someone like that, I can't remember exactly. They took us to Krugersdorp Prison. But I was still locked in a cell on my own. It was like a charge office or some kind of office. But others were kept somewhere else, I don't know where. We stayed there for a week in this place.
The following week they came to fetch me. They took me to the office of the Special Branch. They said I must tell the truth because they have got all the witnesses against me. They took out an album. They said I must identify all the students that had left and all those that I had taken
out of the country. They told me that they knew everything. They also told me that I was typing the ANC pamphlets, the Spear of the Nation. They were also looking for Paul Masebe. There was also another guy we were arrested with, his name was Inch. When I started denying that they hit me. They made me hold onto a telephone directory. They put food there and water there. They said if I don't speak the truth I will not get water or food. They said I must tell them the truth. They said I must sit down and write a statement. I did write a statement and they said I was lying. They tore that statement up. They kept me standing again. They started hitting me with a ruler. When I was getting tired from holding out they used to hit me with a ruler.
From then I said, there was nothing I was saying to them. I was playing games. They asked me do you want to go home, they said if you want to go home tell us everything, then we'll release you, you can go home because you are wasting your time. You must reveal everything. We've arrested big fishes like Tokyo Sexwale and they stay just next to you, and these people I am talking about they were my neighbours, they said you work with those people. Tell us where are the guns, where are the guns? I said I don't know anything about the guns. All what I know I was going to Swaziland but I don't know anything about the guns.
And then I just stood there. They wouldn't even let me go to the toilet. Eventually they did allow me to go to the toilet to relieve myself. And Tsutsubi said to me, if you don't speak the truth we are going to change because you are playing. They took something like an umbrella. They were shocking me. It was an electric shock. They shocked me throughout my body. The whole night I was standing there. JOHANNESBURG HEARING TRC/GAUTENG
On the following day they blindfolded me, closed my eyes with a cloth. They made me hold this telephone directory. They said I am playing, I don't want to speak, they beat me up. But what surprised me is that I was strong. I kept on standing. I didn't fall, I didn't collapse. I said what I've told you it's the truth that I know. They said to me, we want guns, tell us about guns, don't play with us. We've arrested big guys like Tokyo and others, but you don't want to tell us where you've hidden the guns. I said I don't know anything about guns. They continued beating me up. This was the second day.
On the third day I collapsed. When I became conscious I was in a cell. I don't know how I arrived in the cell. They gave me some tablets. These prison police in Krugersdorp they picked me up and took me to the District Surgeon but it's in the same prison and this doctor said there is nothing wrong with me. I was smelling of blood. There was blood that had clotted throughout my fingers, between my fingers, my toes and so on and my body and in my back. I had nerves in my head. When I just heard the key unlocking the prison cell I just used to be so petrified.
MS SEROKE: In your statement you explained how they were torturing you, that they put your hands up, that you must hold on to a directory for a long time. When you got tired they would hit you with a ruler on your fingers, on your shoulders, they also shocked you with an umbrella thing, where did they put this thing?
MS MOHALE: No they didn't take me to the doctor, they used to drug me. They were drugging me, they gave me a lot of tablets. I was asleep the whole time. I couldn't even walk, they were picking me up. The doctor said they must take me to prison in Krugersdorp because there were also women who had been arrested. These were the women who were looking after me. They used to pick me up when this doctor was there and they would see me in those offices. I stayed there, my mother could not even come and visit me. I stayed there until my clothes were dirty and torn.
When I was in Krugersdorp they came to fetch me and took me to John Vorster Square. They said they wanted guns. When I arrived at John Vorster I found that they had arrested my mother. They showed me that if you don't show us where these guns are we are going to kill your mother. We are also going to kill you. They took me to 10th floor. They said you see this window, we will make you stand on top of the table and you will fly out like a bird, so many people died like you, they died there on the ground. They died flying through this window like a bird, you are also going to die if you don't tell us the truth.
For the first time when I saw those policemen they looked wild, they looked like cannibals. Their eyes were laminating, that's how their eyes looked. They are huge policemen, very heft policemen. They threatened me. They intimidated and said they are going to kill me, you are not going to come out of this place alive. My heart was beating. I thought about my mother and I thought all my mother had done for me and I thought they were going to kill her. So they put me in a cell and slept. I was surprised my mother was very strong, she said don't be scared, but for what they did to me, I was thinking about her all the time. I couldn't sleep that night.
MS MOHALE: These were John Vorster cops. There were lots of them, I don't even know how many there were. There were lots of them. Every one of them was intimidating me, harassing me. There were a few Black policemen. Most of them were White policemen.
MS MOHALE: When I went home it was a private car which is divided inside and on the other side there was a dog on the other side was me. So they handcuffed me, took me home to search home looking for guns. They put everything upside down at home searching, and they told me they were searching JOHANNESBURG HEARING TRC/GAUTENG
for guns and I didn't show them any guns. There were lots and lots of cars, convoy of cars with me. When they arrived home they didn't find any guns. They were harassing everybody at home. From there they took me back to Krugersdorp. The following day they took me to Pretoria Maximum Prison. That's where I stayed alone. They put me together with convicted prisoners, people who were going to be hanged, the women. I used to exercise with them. Even there they didn't allow my mum to come and see me. When they gave me their case it was the Pretoria 12, there were 11 men and me, I was the only women. So they came to fetch me from prison with a van with a dog. The first day I appeared in court there was a dog in this van. They didn't even tell me where we were going. When we came back it was the only time that we could have access to lawyers and then they began to take statements from us, and they told us that they are going to wait for us. That was the only time my mum could see me and I could only change clothes.
One day when they came to fetch me the dog soiled inside the van and I refused to get inside this van when there was dog excreta and I became strong, and they said I was wasting time when I refused to get inside the van with dog excreta. They called another prisoner who had been convicted to come and wash the van. They washed this van with hosepipe water but it was still smelling and I said I would not get inside, you can do anything. So they took me by their car. So I went with them in this private car and I was sitting with them together and because they ...(tape ends)...
something in my paper bag which I used to have. During the night I heard a lot of noise in this paper bag in the corner. There was a bucket that I used to relieve myself in a bucket. It used to be changed once a day, in the morning. During the day they didn't change this bucket. When I needed to toilet and relieve myself this is the bucket I used. I was sleeping on the mat on the floor and it was very cold. So when this thing was moving around in my paper bag making a noise I just prayed to God. I just said if God you can give me strength to come and kill this thing inside this paper bag. Something like a cockroach, it was a huge thing from this paper bag. It looked like a cockroach. It looked an insect, some animal, a creepy-crawly from the bush but I told them I am not going to tell them what was inside there because I think it was put there by them. I just folded this thing with a newspaper and threw it inside the bucket. Usually only one person came and they took me out to shower. On that day three of them came and they took this thing out and I just took the bucket and threw it into the toilet. Sometimes they would just come in and mix a lot of things in my cell. They just used to use lots of tricks to intimidate me and harass me.
Judge Davison, when Mr Chitaka(?) asked that I should be released because I have been in prison for a long time, the Judge refused. Our case was postponed to January. We were assisted by Mr Myburgh and two assessors. Most of the witnesses had already left and then we were released. On the day of my release Mr Coetzee came to me and said, Pauline where are you going to, what are you going to do? I said I am going home, why worry. And I left for home. Even thereafter they came. Some of them would come to my
home with guns, with many cars, interrogating me and I told them I am just staying at home, I am not well. I went to the neurologists at Baragwanath because at that time I had a nervous breakdown. It was about four years that I was in this treatment. My back was aching. Even now my legs are - I have clots, my veins have clotted. I keep on wearing pantihose every day. Lisa Williams, a White lady came to me and she said Pauline if you want to get out of this country tell me and I will help you. At times she would invite me, she wanted to be my friend. I didn't know who she was. She came to Dube being a White person and she said to me if you want to leave the country you must tell me, and I said to her no I don't want to leave, I am not healthy, I have a child and my mother is struggling, why do you want me to leave? She said no, I am just thinking the police might harass you. Lisa persuaded me to leave the country and I refused. I had a radio cassette and a tape deck. She took them with her, she said lend them to me - she gave me a report saying they are lost. I went to Mr Chitaka to report this and he wrote her a letter. She bought me new equipment but she kept on persuading me to leave. I can't remember in what year it was and I heard that Lisa was involved in an accident and she died. She was a very good informer to the police. I got a clue that she wanted to kill me. I can't remember the name of the newspaper. They indicated that Lisa Williams was a police informer.
DR RANDERA: Just to start off with, you say earlier in your statement when you were arrested at the Swaziland border one of the people who was with you was your brother, your brother David Mohale, I trust he is alive and well?
DR RANDERA: I want to go back to your imprisonment. You went to four prisons, Krugersdorp, John Vorster Square, the prison near the Swaziland border and then finally Pretoria Maximum Security Prison, you were a political prisoner at the time, you say that you were seen one time during all those months of internment by a doctor, how many times did you actually request to be seen by a doctor in the times that you were in all these different prisons?
DR RANDERA: I just want to go back to the one time that a doctor did see you and this was after you had been tortured, I raise these questions because in the past some district surgeons have been accused by other prisoners on the way they were treated and on this one occasion that you were seen by a doctor did the doctor examine you properly, did he make proper recommendations? I see you mention that he gave tablets that made you sleepy only.
MS SOOKA: You said to us that you were tortured and in fact you've described for us the physical parts of the torture, but could you tell us a little bit about the emotional effect that the torture had on you please?
MS MOHALE: It really made me feel bad. At times I would dream. I couldn't adjust to the situation, to the normal situation of the family. I got quickly irritated, even the music because where I was I couldn't listen to music. Even if a child was crying I felt this cry in my nerves.
MS SOOKA: At any time during the 18 months did any magistrate ever visit you and when you came up to court when the proceedings were postponed did the prosecutor never object to the fact that you had been in prison so long?
MS MOHALE: I am not employed at the moment. I am married. I have children. I have four children at this moment. I went to the ANC Welfare two years back and I asked them to help me with my studies. After having been released I so much wanted to go to school and then I went to Damelin, I passed my course which was a computer course. I am still searching for employment. I am not working as you see me now. The children are at school, I have to support them.
MS MOHALE: I was together with Tokyo Sexwale, the Premier, Naledi Tsiki, Bafana and Mr Ramokgadi, Gotso Seatlholo, the late Mr Nchabelaneng, I really forgot the names of the others. I gave you a paper with their names. Our case was referred to as 11 men, one woman.
We want to say thank you very much because you came to appear before us and we are very sorry about what happened to you. As a Commission you know that we have been put here to try and unite the country and reconcile. We want to thank you very much for the efforts that you took and to thank you as well for what you have given to the nation. We want to say be strong. We thank you very much.