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Human Rights Violation Hearings

Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Starting Date 29 April 1996

Location METHODIST CHURCH, JOHANNESBURG

Day 1

Names SARAH MTHEMBU

Case Number GO/O161 JOHANNESBURG

DR BORAINE: The witnesses we call are Mrs Sarah Mthembu and Miss Maria Mthembu and we will ask them to, and invite them to take the stand please.

REV TUTU: Could I apologise. I have not in fact introduced the panel here. On my extreme left, or your right is Joyce Seroke, who is a committee member of the Human Rights Violations Committee of this region. Next to her is Hlengiwe Mkhize who is a Commissioner and the Chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee. Wynand Malan, a Commissioner and also deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Violations Committee based here in Gauteng. Faizel Randera, a Commissioner, a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee, and also coordinator of this region. So he is the boss person here. If I want to get angry with anybody then I will get angry with him. Alex Boraine the deputy chair of the Commission and a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee. Commissioner Bongani Finca a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and coordinator of our East London regional office. They had the dubious honour of being the first to kick off and they did a splendid job of work, remarkable job of work indeed. Next to him is Richard Lyster a Commissioner and member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he too is the coordinator of our regional office in the KwaZulu Natal and

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Free State region. Next to him is Yasmin Sooka, Commissioner and another deputy chair of the Human Rights Violations Committee based here in Gauteng. Tom Manthata a committee member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee based here in Gauteng. Piet Meiring is a member

of the Reparations and Rehabilitation committee Gauteng region. Chris de Jager who is a Commissioner and a member of the Amnesty Committee, famous committee. And Sisi Khampepe a Commissioner and member of the Amnesty Committee. Hugh Lewin is committee member of the Human Rights Violations Committee, and Russel Ally who is also a committee member of the Human Rights Violations Committee based here in Gauteng. Thank you.

DR BORAINE: Welcome Mrs Sarah Mthembu and Miss Maria Mthembu. You also have with you a young lady and perhaps you can tell us who that is?

MS MTHEMBU: The young one is Nonkululeku, it is Maria's child, she gave birth to while in prison.

DR BORAINE: We are very glad to welcome you too and I wonder if somebody could arrange for earphones for the little girl. It's important that everybody has a chance to hear so I am taking it very slowly. Once we are ready we will speed it up a bit. Alright we are ready to go. A very warm word of welcome to all three of you and Mrs Mthembu I must ask you please to stand for the taking of the oath.

SARAH MTHEMBU: (sworn states)

MARIA MTHEMBU: (sworn states)

DR BORAINE: Now Mrs Mthembu as I mentioned earlier to the first witness Mrs Tiro, we try to help the witness give their story and give their testimony. In this case it is I who will be doing that. I will be asking the questions in

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English, it will be translated and you will be able to understand and take your time. There is no hurry, just take your time.

First would you tell us just a little bit, not too long, but just a little bit about yourself, your family, where you lived, where you come from before the story of

what happened to your son.

MS MTHEMBU: I am Sarah Mthembu from Alexandra 731. I heard about the Truth Commission and I decided to come. In 1986 I have a son and sent him to buy bread, it was during the violence. Well he went to buy bread. He left at about ten to go and get bread. At 11, 11:30 somebody came to my house hiding a hat behind and he went to Mayekiso to tell Mayekiso that Jerry has been shot. And Mayekiso came to my house and we went in and they said to me Sarah don't mind, be strong, and they said to me Jerry is shot. He was shot at no.50 at seven. Well I was really disturbed but they really encouraged me. We went to the hospital. John Grant who stays opposite to me took them with his car.

Maria came and said "where is Jerry?", and I said I don't know. She calls me Raghadi and she said I saw Jerry in the ambulance. I saw him through his fingers. He is shot. Well it was spread around that Jerry has been shot. Well we followed the ambulance searching for Jerry but we couldn't find him. It was the first day, the second day searching for Jerry together with Mayekiso, and the fourth day we found him in the mortuary. It was through Maria that we found him in the mortuary because Maria went to the mortuary and they said well, there is a group that arrived this morning, wait you will search for him there. Well Maria went into the mortuary having a look at all the

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corpses and she noted all of them down. Well the last load she could identify Jerry, and she said there's Jerry, and they said no, step in and identify him. Well she was now weak, she couldn't do anything, but she tried and she said yes, this Jerry. She came back to me and said yes, that's Jerry.

Well during that time they fetched me from Khotso House. While she identified him I was also there and then we were - I was again disturbed. We asked one of the employees at the government mortuary said this boy arrived this morning and he was still very warm. Well they took me with Moss' car, Rapalayane and they took me to my home. I found my sister-in-law there and they asked me is it true that he is dead, and I said yes.

After that there was never life. The Boers were now coming and they said to me we want Maria. I said Maria is here. She is sitting on the mattress. And there's Jerry's twin Rosina. Well the soldiers came in as well and they said we want Maria, and Maria said to them you killed Jerry now what do you want with Maria? Well I came out and said to them what do you want? They said we want Maria. Well they left. I was left with the people in the house and I was just asking myself what happened. They killed Jerry, what do they want now. The other Boers came and they said we didn't want to kill Jerry, the person we want dead is Maria actually. Now Jerry is dead what do you want? And they said to me there's nothing we can do, we didn't want Jerry, in actual fact we wanted Maria.

Well they left and they came back again. I was with Maria in the house with other people and they said again where is Maria and I said no she's not here. They said we

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wanted to kill her. I said Maria come. I said to them kill her, shoot her. They said no we don't to shoot her here we want to get her in the street. Maria was crying, she was standing against the wall. Well they left the house.

My sister left to go and find information about Jerry's clothes, they said no they don't know where his clothes are. You know every time the police would come threatening us and they came again and they said where's Maria? They said to me, you know what Sarah we are going to kill you all because you don't want to listen. Your son is dead and you are now busy with the comrades and they are always occupying your house.

At the very same time we formed a people's court. It was in the garage, I had a garage and a people's court was conducted there. And they said every time the comrades are full here we are going to kill you. You know I was sitting on the mattress at that time. The comrades were coming in you know telling me you are a woman, be strong, this is a struggle, and I was strong. I was energetic. They said if I agree that I bury my son apart they would let him go, but if I don't want to agree they will keep him. I said I don't care I want my son to be buried with all the children who were dead. They left.

They came back, I think it was a month. They were buried on the 17th of March. The police even on that day came in and out searching for Maria. They wanted Maria and they spoke to her. It was a Black man. He gave Maria landmines. You know we were not yet through with the burial. They took the landmines. This young man said they killed your brother, what can we do with these? He said well we can go and bomb the White creches. They said no

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this is a police trap. They said Maria don't put these things into the house.

They were no tarred roads in our township and they took all those landmines into a furrow and they said Maria should put them there. The next morning they will have to take the landmines and take them to Priscilla. Well Maria will tell the story what happened.

Well we buried our son. There were threats from the police. I didn't know what to do, you know I was lifeless. Mayekiso during that time was detained. I couldn't go anywhere, I didn't know what to do. I think I can stop there.

Well we buried my son and after that my house was bombed and I lost my house. I struggled, I remember very well I was staying with friends, with my children, I didn't know where Maria was. I didn't know where the other twin was. Every time I go to a place the police would be informed and I would move from one place to another. I went to Mr Tutu and stayed there. One woman referred me to him. There was information leaking that the police know that I am staying with that women and she took me to Ndada Tutu. I didn't have any place to stay after Mr Tutu left Gauteng. I suffered a lot. I was called a spy. Some of my comrades were calling me a spy. I didn't know where to go. My life was just a misery. Even today I am still called a spy. I am called an informer. I am called a Marxist. Even to this day those are names ascribed to me. You know my leaders, my comrades are calling me a Marxist, a spy, even to this day, that hurts me most. I don't know what to do. I don't know how can I reveal the truth that I am not a spy.

I think I can just end there.

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DR BORAINE: I just have a few questions just to help me understand what happened on that day. It was in 1986, is that right, it was in Alexandra, it was at no. 50 7th Avenue.

MS MTHEMBU: That's where they killed Jerry, that's where they shot him. It's no.50 7th Avenue, that's where he was shot.

DR BORAINE: How old was your son?

MS MTHEMBU: He was 16 years.

DR BORAINE: He was standing with somebody there when he was shot or was he standing on his own?

MS MTHEMBU: He was together with a girl who stays at 6, no.48.

DR BORAINE: ...from?

MS MTHEMBU: The way this girl told us she said it was a hippo and a White policeman jumped off the hippo and shot him.

DR BORAINE: Did you ever find out what the registration number of the hippo was?

MS MTHEMBU: No we couldn't find the registration, but the hippo that - the registration that I have it's when we were attacked I took the hippo's registration.

DR BORAINE: Okay, and we've got that, yes. Can you remember the name of the young woman that he was with when he was shot, the young girl that he was standing, told you the story?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes I know her name, but I think I submitted her name and the telephone numbers in the - I think they are all in the statement.

DR BORAINE: And did anybody from the police or from anywhere else come and tell you that your son was shot?

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MS MTHEMBU: Nobody.

DR BORAINE: And you searched for him for four days, for his body or for him?

MS MTHEMBU: We searched for three days and on the fourth day we found him at the mortuary.

DR BORAINE: Where did you look in those three days, where did you go?

MS MTHEMBU: We went into the hospitals, all the hospitals and some of them went to the mortuaries and we couldn't find him and then we went back to the mortuary and we found him there.

DR BORAINE: Which mortuary was that?

MS MTHEMBU: It's government mortuary at Hillbrow.

DR BORAINE: Thank you. It was a long time before he was buried, is that right?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes.

DR BORAINE: (...indistinct)

MS MTHEMBU: They said to me if we want to bury him separate, alone, he will be buried, but if we don't agree to that statement he will be rotting in the mortuary. Those were the words from the Boers.

DR BORAINE: So the police asked you to bury him quite soon but on his own?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes. They said we should bury him, only family, no comrades, nobody and we refused that. We said no he has to be buried together with the dead people, that's why there was a delay.

DR BORAINE: He finally was buried together with the other comrades.

MS MTHEMBU: Yes he was buried with 17 or 19, I can't remember well.

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DR BORAINE: Another question for you, and I'm really not sure how to ask it, you told us you were very worried because people in your community are still calling you an informer and that just hurts you.

MS MTHEMBU: Yes it hurts me.

DR BORAINE: You have tried to talk with the community?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes. What I did I think the people have a problem with me, they have to call me and ask me and that they don't do, they only spread this rumour. Maybe they think I will get something - I think they should have called me and interrogated me and asked me why do they say I am a spy, but they don't come. But one other thing that gives me a problem the organisation itself cannot come to me, you know they still spread this rumour about me. It's really surprising. I think at any time they can do what they want. I think God doesn't just want them to do anything. I don't know are they jealous or what. I don't have a son today. I got divorced with my husband. Maria was doing standard 3 and I was struggling to let the children grow on my own. But my own comrades are now accusing me saying that I am an informer.

DR BORAINE: It's very hard. Just take your time. So Mrs Mthembu you were telling us that your son of 16 years old was killed on the side of the street. That your daughter was detained without trial and imprisoned and you are still suffering. We have heard your story and there may be some of my colleagues who also want to ask you. Let me hand over to the Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: We thank you very much.

DR RANDERA: Sarah I greet you. I remember those difficult times because I was a doctor in Alexandra Clinic myself and

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if I remember rightly I saw Maria when she came out of prison and I see now she has a beautiful child. The baby I saw at the time was still very small. Sarah I just wanted to ask two questions. One is was there an inquest held when you reported it to the police and subsequently, was there an inquest into the death of Jerry? If there was what was the verdict of that inquest?

MS MTHEMBU: There was never an inquest. I was never interrogated. When we went to the police station to open the case they said we can go to Khotso House to open a case there. Nothing really happened. Even when the house was burned they didn't do anything. They said to me we can go to Khotso House to lay our charges there.

DR RANDERA: My second question is more related to what you said earlier on that you've been to a number of hospitals, police stations, I also remember that there was a big tent that the ambulance service had set it up in the township itself and my first question is did you actually go to that tent to find out whether Jerry was there? Secondly, what was the attitude of the hospitals, the police stations when you made these enquiries, how helpful were they in relationship to the suffering that you were going through at that time?

MS MTHEMBU: The first one about tents, yes, you are right, I think Maria will give you a briefing about the tents. The second one the relationship, the attitude of the police, they were laughing. They were making a statement that they haven't yet started killing, they are still going to kill. There was one from the police who came to us asking me you have turned this area into a comrades territory, we are going to kill you all. Even if when I met him in Wynburg

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and he asked me where is this Mrs Mthembu of your comrade, we are going to kill you.

DR RANDERA: Do you remember the names of any of these policemen? Do you have names in relationship? I am not saying that they were necessarily associated with Jerry's death. Do you remember the names of these policemen?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes. The ones who came to arrest us, asking us about people's court, searching for Maria I know them. Because even today I can meet them, even today because of the crime. I heard Tokyo Sexwale saying everybody has to be an informer. When we see people with firearms I can call them, those police, I know their names. There are guns at present that came to my house and I took those people, I took them to the police to hand the guns in. This was to show that when we speak of peace and reconciliation I talked to myself, I searched within my soul and I said reconciliation has to be there and I have to start now to forgive. And I really showed that I have forgiveness, I am working with the police, I am giving them information. ...(tape ends).. ...coming to threaten me, to search my house, searching for Maria, you know doing everything in front of their eyes, naked, those I cannot really mention. Well I have handed two guns in, their names, this is Wessel, that's the first one. The other one is Spora(?). Those were the two policemen coming frequently to my house. I handed those guns straight to those people, and it wasn't me handing the guns over, I was together with the people handing the guns. And I said to them tell the police that you picked these guns and then they won't arrest you.

CHAIRPERSON: Hlengiwe Mkhize.

MS MKHIZE: Can you please help the Commission we want to

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understand clearly you are referring to the comrades, we want to clearly understand is it the people who used to live together with you, if you say they are comrades who are you really referring to? Because my question that will follow will be when did things start going wrong because you were living together with your comrades and you are now living in fear?

MS MTHEMBU: The people I am referring to they are comrades. I am a comrade as well. I am one of the street committee. I am a member of the Women's League. I am an organiser in Alexandra.

MS MKHIZE: Now these things about informer, you know if a person is jealous, if you have a lot of respect from other people that's how jealousy comes up then people would blame you and they would suspect that you are an informer.

MS MTHEMBU: I tried to search but I cannot find out where the problem lies because I am not fighting for seats. You know if there is a conference, if the masses elect me there will be a caucus please don't elect Sarah she's an informer, she's a spy, that's my problem actually. I think if those people can come here to the Truth Commission maybe they will tell the Commission why do they have to make such statements because my children always tell me mom can you leave the politics because you have problems every day.

MS MKHIZE: Do you maybe want to tell the Commission if you say you are in fear of your life and when you refer to comrades?

MS MTHEMBU: It's just a name, we don't know who the comrades are.

MS MKHIZE: Are there people specifically that you can mention, I want to put it this way?

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MS MTHEMBU: Can I please get some people from the Commission who will sit down with me and I'll give them names of people who have been spreading this rumour? I am still working even now in the organisations and I'm very active. I don't know what the problem actually is with these people. Do they want me to stay and do nothing? But if the Commission allows me to have people in private and give the names of the people who have been spreading this rumour maybe I will be relieved.

REV FINCA: Did I hear you correct earlier on that you said that the police said to you they did not want to kill Jerry but they wanted to kill Maria, is that correct?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes that's correct.

REV FINCA: Are you able to say to us who said that to you, or are you afraid of saying that to us now?

MS MTHEMBU: I don't actually know his name but I can identify if a parade can be conducted.

REV FINCA: Can I further ask you said that when you wanted to report this to the police station you were told that you must go and report it to Khotso House, does that mean the South African Council of Churches' offices?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes they referred to that place.

REV FINCA: Can you remember who said that to you, which police station referred you to Khotso House?

MS MTHEMBU: Those were policemen from Alexandra.

CHAIRPERSON: Please don't turn off my microphone before I call on the person because we have been specifically asked by the people doing the radio broadcasts that it is important for the listeners to know who is speaking. Could you let me say the name first before you take me off the air.

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MS SOOKA: Sarah could you tell us, you said you went to Priscilla Jana did she act for you?

MS MTHEMBU: No I didn't go to Priscilla Jana, Maria went to Priscilla, that's Maria who went to Priscilla, not me. I only went there after Maria gave birth. The police said to me Maria has a baby daughter, what's the name of the child and I said no I don't know, Maria will have to personally give the child the name and she said the name will be Nonkululeko. They said to me do you know the meaning of Nonkululeko? I said no. They said it means freedom. Maria is lying, there will never be freedom here. Those were the police who came to me to tell me that Maria has a child. They said you should come and fetch Maria's child. I said no I will never, Maria is the mother to the child they will have to be together in prison.

MS SOOKA: Will you tell me about the bombing of your house?

MS MTHEMBU: Yes. My house was bombed because there was a people's court. It was right in my garage in my yard. They bombed my house because people would go to no.31 people's court. They referred people to my house that's why it was bombed. And the people who did that were the police wearing blue and grey and they called themselves the Gabasa. It was something to six when I met them, I was from work and they said you must be careful, we are going to attack Alexandra today. And I told them exactly what I was told. While I was watching TV it was towards seven I heard gunshots. It was the police driving a hippo. They shot and they set the fire. We were together with Mzwanele Dakane, all activists were in the house during that time. We escaped through a back door window, that's where I realised a hippo lighting

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at the people wearing blue uniforms. That's where I managed to take the registration. I went to the lawyers and I told them this is the hippo's registration, people were at my house, attacking.

MS SOOKA: Are you talking about Priscilla Jana?

MS MTHEMBU: Ja Priscilla Jana and Spoor and Richard Spoor.

MS SOOKA: Do you remember the date of the bombing?

MS MTHEMBU: I can't remember. I think Priscilla and the second lawyer they both have the statements, everything is right there.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Sarah. After Maria has given us a speech I want to say something. Can we go and have some tea, a short break, a 15 minute tea break unfortunately because we are running a little late. What I have asked in previous sessions is that we stand as well this time until the witnesses have left. Please stand.

COMMISSION ADJOURNS FOR TEA

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DR BORAINE: Please put on the earphones.

MARIA MTHEMBU

DR BORAINE: Maria we are very pleased to see you, as well as your daughter. You've listened to your mother tell the story and the stories about your brother Jerry and would you like to add anything to that story please. We are now ready to listen to you.

MS M MTHEMBU: On the day Jerry was going to be shot there was also one of his schoolmates who died, whose name was Mike. We were at his funeral and it was on a Saturday. The actual conflict started there on that day of the funeral. We started fighting with the police. When we came out of the funeral, before I arrived at home I was already told, because at the time when they started shooting I fell into the water and then I swam and then I came out. When I arrived at home I saw the ambulance coming towards the direction from home. I saw my big brother's feet protruding out. When they passed I was hiding because they were busy shooting. After they had passed I went home and my mother said, where's Jerry. My mother said sit down and I said no. They have shot Jerry I saw him in the ambulance. My mother said sit still here at home, don't go anywhere. They went out to search for Jerry. When they came back they said they can't find him. I said I saw the direction where the ambulance went to, it went towards the direction of the Vasco da Gama, from Vasco da Gama it turned towards the animal hospital where they shot and killed other people. They went to look there and they didn't find anyone. The following day they went again to search and they didn't come and the third day they went to search. The fourth day I said now I am coming out. I went with Mr Rapalanyana and we JOHANNESBURG HEARING TRC/GAUTENG

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went to fetch my mother at work. When I arrived at the general hospital other people said I must go to the government mortuary and said it's not a long time ago that this child was here. When I went to the government mortuary it was for the first time that I saw the government mortuary, I spoke to some other men, they said go inside there are some children that have just been brought in and I had a book and a ball pen. When I went inside I could recognise that the children were lying down. I stole their numbers that were on their feet so that their parents could be able to trace them. So I took down all those numbers and I looked at all those bodies that were lying down. I didn't see Jerry.

When this other man said I shouldn't go, there is still another lot that's arriving. When the load came I took down all the numbers of the bodies. When I was on the door I saw Jerry, and I said there's Jerry. They said I must come in and identify him. I just stood there and looked at him. There was also our neighbour's child. I put down their numbers. When I came out of there I said let us go home I have found him. I said yes of course it is him.

When we arrived at home we told Mayekiso and others that we found Jerry, but what surprised me is that when I asked people they said this child has only just recently come in, it means that this child has just recently died. I said okay.

When we arrived at home we started making funeral preparations. There now all the numbers I had, I started giving them to Moses so that all those parents who couldn't find their children could go to the government mortuary and identify their children through those numbers that I had

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because there was confusion, we couldn't even find our children where they were. We couldn't even trace their bodies, those who were dead.

While it was still like that we were still at home I started being frightened and being worried because I know how police are like. As I went out somebody told me that the police were here looking for you. They said it's because of your activities.

They came in while I was still inside. They said to my mother we are looking for Maria. My mother said Maria is not here. They said when we find her we will kill her we are telling you right now. That's why I kept quiet and I was just inside the house and I kept quiet. After a few minutes they kept on coming all the time, different police would come in.

While I was still sitting there they came in, and I saw them before I came in and I wanted to get out of the window. When I look at the window I saw that the hippos had surrounded the yard. There was also the SADF surrounding our place, and I said to my mother today they are going to kill me. I don't know what I can do. They said where is Maria. I was holding onto the wall and then they all pointed guns at me. I just stood against the wall and my mother said here is Maria, and I didn't even look at them I was looking towards the wall, I said let what can happen happen right now. They said no we will find her in the street but what we do know Jerry died by mistake, we were really after you. We are still going to kill you. I just kept quiet.

After two days there was a strange boy who came that I had not seen before. He was wearing a UDF T-shirt and he

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said to me there were a lot of us comrades there, there was COSAS and a lot of us, this guy came to me and he said here comrade you are Maria, he said I hear that you are so active but there are things I've got for you. I said what are those things you've got for me? He said let's go outside and talk together and he showed me landmines. He said here are the landmines. I mean they were complete but there was only the string that was missing to connect them. He said here what we are going to do, because they have killed your younger brother this is what we must do. He said now we must hit back at them. He said take these landmines. I took them and held them.

I called other comrades who were here, I said here are these things that have been given to me, this guy says he's so and so. The comrades said to me listen who is this person? We are not sure who this person is. We need to trace who this person is. And they followed this person towards the hostel but from the hostel this person just disappeared. Then for two days I was hiding these things.

On the third day when I said it looks like there's a trap here, it looks like I must take these things to the lawyers. People said to me who is going to hold them because we are now going to call the taxi somebody will have to hold them. At the time I was brave, I said if anything happens let it happen to me. So I took those things and I wore a lumberjacket and I got into the taxi. There were some comrades I was with. I said if there is anything that happened that other comrades could relate that.

When we arrived at Priscilla Jana I said I am looking for Priscilla. They said I must say what is happening. When I told them that really this is an issue that needs

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Priscilla herself. So I took out, when I saw Priscilla, I took these things and put them outside. She said do you know this person who gave these to you? I said no I saw this person for the first time but I can recognise this person if I saw him again. She said you are so brave. Are you brave enough that I can call the police, because the police must come and fetch these things from me? I said yes, I am brave, I am prepared for them. She said you must know that after this, after they have taken this you must just disappear. They mustn't find you. I said yes I will skip the country. And they agreed.

She said let me phone an advocate first. She phoned an advocate and when the advocate came then they phoned the cops and when the cop arrived they thought they were going to find a very big and elderly person. When they arrived they just came to me, I was a small person, and they just kept quiet and looked at me, they were also surprised. They said do you know what are these things you brought here? I said yes I know. They said can you recognise the person who gave you these things? I said yes I know, I can recognise this person. They asked me some questions and they realised that I didn't know much about this.

After I came out from Priscilla things were not safe for me. I really got frightened because I didn't know where the police were waiting but I just wanted to have enough strength to go and arrive home. When I arrived at home in the township because when people tried to report issues the police would say go back to your comrades and lay charges there. That is when we started the people's court because we could not take our concern to the police.

When the people's court started operating I wasn't part JOHANNESBURG HEARING TRC/GAUTENG

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of it, but I was one of the comrades who was active during that time. As the people's court was operating these Boers used to come at home looking for me. When we buried these children we buried them today and the following day I ran away. I had to run away, I had not choice. I couldn't stay in the township. So I ran and went to stay in Pretoria. When I was in Pretoria I heard that they had arrested my mother.

Where I was staying I didn't even say goodbye to them I just came back and went home, but I found that my mother had already been released. She told me that these people are looking for you, and when they find you they are going to kill you. I said well it's alright, if they kill me they will kill me, I know that I have committed no wrong. I was staying at different people's places, I wasn't staying at home during that time.

Whilst it was still like that one day I came back home in the afternoon, just when I came out the police came and said Maria where is Maria, she was just here, they said you know your Maria is troublesome. Now her time has arrived, you must know that once we find out where she is we are going to kill her. When I came back to my mother my mother said run away. I said it doesn't help, if I run to exile who are people who are going to remain here at home and assist at home. I said I am not going anywhere. I am just going to stay here at home although I will not be staying in a stable place, I will be moving around but I won't leave the country.

As the days went on there was a funeral of the second group that was also killed. I was also called to come and give a speech but I couldn't even arrive at the place and

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give a speech because I saw a lot of policemen and I realised that they are going to shoot me. I saw Motemi, and this Motemi is a policeman, he is a very cruel policeman, so I ran away.

There was a funeral at Duduza and we went to Duduza and I said no I am not going to go to Duduza. Those who had gone to Duduza along the path there were roadblocks, they stopped all those people who had gone to Duduza, and they were asking all the people on the bus and taxi who were going to the Duduza funeral, where is Maria? People came back and said Maria you must run away because I think these cops are really after you.

My mother came to me and said these people are going to kill you, what can you do? I said there is nothing I could do, I will just stay here and if they want to kill me they are going to come and kill me. But I ran away again and I was underground. I went to stay with other comrades in Thokoza. In Thokoza I only stayed for two days. On the third day they said things are hotting up again here let us run away. Just the day after we ran away from Thokoza the police attacked the place and said there were MK people there.

So I left with this other comrade, Comrade Noti, we also stayed there three days. At about 12 midnight there was one boy, this young boy told us the police were here, they are coming around, you must run away. So at about 12 midnight I ran away and we slept by the graveyard so that we could be safe.

As we were running away we saw that there was a road block on our way. One old man helped us who is the manager of Sales House. This man, because Noti knew him talked to

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him said Comrade just take out your car and help these people escape and just say these are members of your staff so that they can be able to pass through. Along the way we were stopped by the roadblocks and this manager said no this is my staff at Sales House. We went back to Alex but even in Alex there was really no life, we couldn't survive there. On the day we slept at home that's the night they attacked our home, the Magabasa people. I was on the gate and I saw people wearing blue shirts. I heard the slogans, they were singing, I said aha but I don't recognise this slogan and I went inside. I told the people inside they said run away, there are people who are coming, but by the time they started escaping these Magabasa shot and I just hid myself under the car. They burnt all other cars around me except this car I was hiding under, and a lot of children were killed.

When we came out at night we phoned the ...(indistinct) and they didn't even respond. There was a comrade who was staying at no.30, we went to him so that we could just stay there for a while because the police were busy patrolling at that stage. There were lots of other cops who came in small cars.

In the morning we came out, we washed and got ourselves ready. I was wearing a T-shirt. I was also wearing a green pants, pair of pants. When I arrived and saw where they had burnt the houses the cops arrived, Alec saw me, when he saw me I tried to run, I just ran two steps, I heard a gunshot behind me. I realised that if I continue running they are going to shoot me. So they just grabbed me from behind and said aha, we've got you today. They just picked me up and threw me inside the van. I stayed inside there.

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I had information with me, I knew that if they got this information from me I am going to go forever, there was nothing. I tried to get rid - I realised that I had to get rid of this information I had with me. The stupidity of it they took the van that I was in, they put it right behind the convoy and I called out to people. I took out the cassette, I threw it out of the van and the van went off. When it arrived at 15 at Ntatetele Mr Linda's place they took comrade Bapela put him inside. Now there were two of us and then they took another comrade, then it became three.

Ahead of us there were comrades that were busy fighting. At the same time there was a child who was passing, he tried to run away, he said inside that van there are comrades don't shoot that van they are comrades, don't shoot that. They are telling comrades don't shoot that van there are comrades inside that van. So we were taken to the police station where they made us to squat on the floor and said who do you think we are. They said do you think you are going to rule this country? We just kept quiet. We didn't answer them.

They took me to the women's section and took the men to the men's section. At the same time people had already phoned lawyers and they told lawyers that we were under the state of emergency which is 48 hours. When they came to me they said do you know Ace, do you know your comrade Ace they said come and see him. Ace this is the person who got burnt while they were burning the house, they lay him down on the floor. I just felt strong enough, stood up and looked at him and I saw he was burnt. I said even you are going to follow like him. They kept quiet.

After three days I was released. There was another boy JOHANNESBURG HEARING TRC/GAUTENG

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called Zef, when we arrived at the first avenue behind the Roman Catholic Church he aha you have been released today we are going to kill you. As I was going home I realised that I couldn't even reach home. I took another direction. On that night there was also shooting. It was the base, the place where we were sleeping was called the base. I said if I had been there I would also have been killed so I ran away and went to another place, so they couldn't kill me there.

DR BORAINE: Can I just ask you to come to the time when you were actually detained for those - I think you were five months pregnant, tell us about that and what happened after that please.

MS M MTHEMBU: It was on the 1st of January 1986, on the New Year. There were Boers who came in the morning. They arrived at home. They said there was a MK who has come here in the town ...(tape ends) ....and then they went out. On the 22nd of January they came back again. It was 3 a.m. in the morning and they said Maria dress up let us go. I thought they will come out so that I could dress but they wouldn't even give me a chance. I had to dress in front of them. They said now you are going to tell us where your friend Mabula is. I said to them I don't know where Mabula is. I said to them I don't know where Mabula is. They said you know, it's your friend. So they took me where Mabula stays. They said I must show them who Mabula is. When those people came out I looked at them I said no Mabula is not there, Mabula is not among those people. They said are you serious. So they took me away.

When they arrived at the police station there was a trunk, I sat on top of it. I just sat there, it was very cold. There was nothing I could do. They spoke to me,

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threatening me, but I said there is nothing I can tell you, I don't know anything, what I am telling you is the truth. So they said to my mother she must talk to me so that I can reveal the truth and my mother said I don't know her activities I really don't know anything. So they took me to John Vorster and left my mother. At John Vorster I stayed in isolation. I stayed in isolation in March.

In March they took me they said come wake up we are taking you to court without a lawyer, and I didn't even know anything. They took me to Pretoria where there were government attorneys, there were those people who were sitting there. I sat on the chair. They took a lot of books and put them on the table and said do you know these books? I said no. They said I must write. I spent the whole day writing. They said I must write in different forms, capital letters, different forms of writing so they checked everything. They said so tell us where are your friends, where is Mabula? I said I don't know who Mabula is. I said what's between you and Mabula? You must know that if we don't find Mabula we are going to kill you. I said that's alright. So they booked me at the hospital. When I went to the district surgeon he said why don't they take you out of the isolation and take you to Sun City, and the cop refused. They said I don't want to cooperate with them, so I stayed in isolation until I got sick. I had a headache, a severe headache, so they took me to the hospital. After the hospital they took me back to the isolation until they decided on their own to take me to Sun City.

When I was in Sun City they put me in a cell. There was an elderly woman from Orlando and some other girls. I

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stayed there for four to five days. On the sixth day I went to the hospital and I gave birth. After giving birth I stayed at the hospital and I was under guard by the police for eight days and I stayed with the baby. After the hospital they took me back to Sun City prison, they took me to a cell with the baby. They said a woman who is here take her to the hospital section of the prison, they said no we cannot take her to any hospital section, she deserves to be here. It was May and it was cold and I had a small baby. We took the beds and we combined them and we put the blankets around to make the place warm for the baby. I stayed there 11 days inside that cell with the baby. When they took me out the cell without a baby so nobody could see that I had a baby.

On the day that I was told that we were being released they came here and said you are going to be released tomorrow. I didn't believe them because they kept on saying I was going to be released when I couldn't be released. That day they came and said take all your clothes together you are going to be released. They took me to the waiting room downstairs. When the Alexandra combi came I got inside. I was taken to - this Alex drove towards other comrades places, it was no longer nice when I was released. Things were not very nice and there was also a baby. When I arrived at Alexandra Police Station they put everything off and they left me inside the charge office. They said will you continue doing this and I just kept quiet. And then they took me with this baby and dropped me at the gate of my home. At home they just saw me coming home. My mother got very happy. They said if I am visiting anywhere I must come and tell them. Any movement I make I must go and

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report to them. I just kept quiet. I told them here at home I am not going to report my movements to the police. I used to go wherever I wanted to without reporting to them. They said I shouldn't be found among a group of people. They also asked me what is the name of the baby? I said it's Nonkululeko. They said why are you giving your child the Kululeko? They said what's the christian name I said Precious. They said why are you saying Precious? I said no it's a precious baby to me I gave birth to this baby while in prison. They said here is Maria the person who gave birth while in prison, because I had not planned it just happened there, I couldn't blame myself for that, giving birth to a baby whilst in prison.

DR BORAINE: The information you have given us about your brother's death is helpful to us together with the information from your mother. You have also told us about your own sufferings, in particular the many months that you were in prison, the birth of your baby, your release, this must be very, very hard for you. I have no more questions for you, except to try to feel with you for the long years of harassment and suffering and think the one great joy for you and for your mother must be your very precious Precious your baby and now young girl. I am going to hand you over to the Chairperson in case there are other questions.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Russel Ally?

MR ALLY: Thank you Chairperson. You say that the police said that they killed Jerry by mistake, did you get a sense from the police that they actually knew Jerry?

MS M MTHEMBU: The way I view things Motemi is somebody who knew all of us at home because when Jerry was shot Motemi was among that group. I don't know how it came about that

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they shot at him because he was just standing there innocently.

MR ALLY: Who actually shot at him?

MS M MTHEMBU: No, I don't know who shot Jerry, but there are two witnesses. Because after they had shot Jerry, Jerry ran and fell into another house and they took out his T-shirt and tied him around where he had been shot and the cops pulled him out from that house and took him away.

MR ALLY: Are the two witnesses in your statement?

MS M MTHEMBU: Yes I think in my mother's statement there are the names of those witnesses.

CHAIRPERSON: Dr Randera?

DR RANDERA: Maria if you can just tell us again when you said you went to the mortuary and you saw many people who had died, can you just tell us how many people actually died in that uprising at the same time that Jerry died?

MS M MTHEMBU: People I saw there, there were plus/minus 50, but the only names I could take were between 18 and 19 because I didn't want these Boers to see me and realise what I was doing. There were lots of them in that mortuary, some of them we have not even been able to trace them up till this day.

CHAIRPERSON: Hlengiwe Mkhize.

MS MKHIZE: Maria I think I heard you saying that you starting fighting with the cops during the funeral, would you be able to remember how old were these people who were fighting the cops?

MS M MTHEMBU: They were in the age of between 17 and 19, it was COSAS, the student congress because the child who had been killed there was a COSAS student, he was still at school.

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MS MKHIZE: Another thing I would like you to explain to the Commission, you said they took you, arrested you, put you in jail, they were hitting tables and they just put you on a cold floor, are there other things you would like us to know that they did there?

MS M MTHEMBU: Things that they did there is that while I was in the cell they used to come at night, pull me out of the cell and they'd show me a cell and said you see this cell there were lots of blood around in this cell. And then they said if we are going to kill you we are going to kill you - the place will look like this cell. Those were things they used for threatening and harassing you and then they would take you back to your cell after they had shown you all of that.

CHAIRPERSON: We thank you Mrs Sarah, Dr Boraine has already said that we empathise with you. We hope and believe that maybe the Commission will be able to assist you and investigate who killed Jerry. We thank you.

 
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