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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 24 March 1997
Names CLEMENT KHEHLANA GXABU
REV FINCA: We thank the Bishop of the Methodist Church, Bishop Dabula for his message that touched us. It is a good way to start the day. We have been eagerly been waiting for this day for quite a while. It is a special day for the Commission.
A lot of issues that were brought before the Commission clarified also battles that were fought by our people from the 1970's to the 1980's. We are going to touch on areas where people arose and fought for their rights from 1960. This is a battle that was fought here in Pondoland by the Boers fighting people who were not armed. This is a story of gravity on our people.
We would like to thank all the people who made statements about this incident of horror. Most of them will not come before the Commission but we have a lot of statements. We have 200 statements about this calamity, the battle for freedom by the Mpondo people.
MS MAYA: Thank you Mr Chairperson, this morning of this day in Lusikisiki, Pondoland, this is our programme for the day. In our list today we have 38 people. We have divided these people into particular groups.
First we have Mr Gxabu, Leonard Mdingi, Adolphus Cele. They will give us a historical background as to what happened. After that we have 16 people, they were tortured by the government of the day before the Ngquza incident. They are from Bizana. This started in March 1960 before the ...(indistinct) incident in Ngquza. I will read their names, I will read first the name of the person who is going to talk, and then the victim's name, if the victim will not be speaking.
Mr Clement Khehlana Gxabu, Leonard Mdingi, Adolphus Cele,from Bizana Ethel Thandiwe Bambaliphi who will be talking about Gunqu Bambaliphi, Mvelwa Chushelwa who will be talking about Buyile Mguleni, Georgina Nomzamop Bele who will be talking about headman Phakimile Bele, Polina Nomathamsanqasiya who will be talking about Howard Siya, Zwelihli Zacharia Ngxoko who will be talking about himself, Nelson Jinineka who will be speaking about himself, Nconono Mabel Nondabula who will be talking about Clement Nondabula, Nomak Abitshi Mbewana who will be talking about Phungulwa Mchizwa, Zimisele Sukane who will be talking about Sukani Mbuthuma, Mavis Hleziphi Gazula who will be talking about Nanabezi Gazula,Jongindlu Theophilus Nuba who will be talking Mdodi Tshandu, Nelsie Mtutuse Mayidume who will be talking about Thakatshana Mayidume, Nokwanda Nora Mayidume who will be talking about Bubesi Mayidume, David Zifokofe Silangwe, who will be talking about Jamane Mxwengxe and Bhulekwana Silangwe, Simon Silangwe will be speaking about himself, apparently Simon Silangwe will be with Mr Gxabu, he will not be speaking about himself, Bekabantu Qalanyobe, will be talking about Nomnyaka Qualanyobe, Constance Xhelo and Nomawethu Francisca Johnson will be talking about Wanna "One" Johnson.
Majay Mtombe will be talking about Khoyo Chagi, Nyalasa Sipika will be talking about Ntamehlo Sipika, Ngqamngona Ropootshe will be talking about Ropotshe Ndindwa. The following two have relatives who disappeared, Mamkala Mlandelwa and Acelina Madlamini Ndzoyiyzna will be talking about Madodana Ndzoyiyana.
The following were people who were present at Ngquza or whose relatives were there but fortunately they escaped but they were ill treated after that incident. Some detained and some passed away after having been released from detention. Nomntwana Mangonoma who is going to be represented by Nqintana(?) Mbekwa(?). Mcingelwa Peter Bungana, excuse me Mr Chairperson, Nqintana Mbekwa will be talking about Mankungwini Nomntwana, Mcingelwa Peter will be talking about himself, Mkwenkwe Pelepele Nkonyeni will be talking about himself, Ntujanza Nkonyene Juze will be talking about himself if he's here, Nonzuzo Mfuntane will be talking about Mhlazwa Mfuntane, Clement Khehlana Gxabu will be talking about with a group that will be giving us a background, Alice Solani Ngalavu will be talking about Sithembile Mphoswa Ngalavu, Mapamtu Nokhedla Mbodli will be talking about Mbodli, we don't know the first name, Bulisi Silo will be talking about Silo Sipika, Richard Khetomthandayo Danisa will be talking about himself, Angelina Landiwe Melane will be talking about Oliver Melane.
Bukiwe Rosina Ngxuwa who is going to talk for Jonas Masoyini Gwayi who passed away, his house was burned down, Florence Namabala Mditshwa who will be talking about Stanford Mditshwa who was murdered, Panana Woodfield Giqi who is going to talk about Simon Giqi whose house was burned down.
That is the list for the day Mr Chairperson. If I could just clarify the procedure, Mr Gxabu, Cele and Mdingi will talk first. They will give us a historical background to the whole Nxusa incident, then the people that were victims of the Nxusa incident will be next, then Ethel Thandiwe Bambaliphi and Nelson Jinineka will be representing the whole group. Mrs Madlamini Ndzoyiyana and Mr Gxabu and Mr Khetomthandayo Danisa who experience sever ill treatment will also be speaking.
MR FINCA: We will give reverence to those who passed away. Before they can appear they can appear in front of this Commission, we will give respect to those who died in the Nxusa incident and those who disappeared, their bodies were not found and buried and we'll also give respect to those who were hanged after the Nxusa incident and those who were detained and harassed and then passed away. We will call all the names of the people who passed away in their different circumstances. We will call their names. After that we will pray. Let us all rise.
We remember Mr Wanna Johnson, Khoyo Chagi, Ntamehlo Sipika, Rapotshe Ndindwa, Sijumba Mlandelwa, Madodana Ndzoyiyana. We remember Funqu Bambaliphi, Buyile Mguleni, Headman Phakimile Bele, Howard Siya, Claimant Nondabula, Phungulwa Mchizwa, Sukani Mbuthuma, Nanabezi Gazula. We remember Mankungweni Nomntwana, Mhlazwa Mfuntane Sithembile Mphoswa Ngakavu, Mr Mbodli, Silo Sipika, Oliver Melane, Jonas Masoyini Gwayi, Stanford Mditshwa and simon Giqi. We remember Mdodi Tshandu, Thaktshana Mayidume, Bubesi, ...(tape ends) ......Nomnyaka Qalanyobe.
We welcome you all, and we thank you for availing yourselves and for coming here today. We will give you time because you are here to give us a picture or a background about the struggle which took place in Pondoland. Others have agreed that you can give the background and they will just come forward to confirm what you have just said. This is a great responsibility because you are going to speak on behalf of these people. Others have passed away and you are going to give us the picture, you are going to give this country the picture of what happened on this particular day, this incident of the Ngquza here. We would like you to take an oath. Reverend Xundu is going to help you to take an oath.
MR SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. I would like to greet you all gentlemen, we will begin with Mr Gxabu. Mr Gxabu you have been given a responsibility to tell this Commission the background or the history of this incident when people were killed on this particular day in the Ngquza Hill. I will lead you with questions Mr Gxabu, I will ask you short questions and I will hand over to you to tell us the whole story and if you have missed out something, Mr Silangwe will help you.
MR SANDI: At this time Mr Gxabu, I will hand over to you and please tell us shortly about what happened. Please tell us exactly what happened in this area and I will hand over to you to explain the whole story. Thank you Mr Chairperson.
coming from the meeting which was known as Ibonga from Umtata. The chief would come to the people and tell them what will happen. These chiefs used to come to us, we had dompas(?) and we had to wear them in our necks and there was also this thing of the Bantu Education, which we were against it and we wanted to be represented in Cape Town Parliament.
We had to pay taxes for our cattle and we thought it an enigma that we had to pay taxes for our own cattle. These are the reasons why even the magistrates would not listen to us. Our leader Wanna Johnson, who was also of the royal family, we were then trying to figure out what we would do. It then came from Bizana that we should not take cognisance of the courts of the chief. We elected Thembizi Mphoso and Wanna Johnson to represent us, also Machibini Nokwengwe who is present today in this hall. We elected six men to go to Bizana for a report-back. Gizana then said to our leaders that we had elected, at that time Jikindaba Mhlanga who was a chief had passed away, his death was a suspicious one. They were given another date to come back.
We then said it would be too late, we should continue, then everyone was called to Hode on a mountain. People came from seven villages, even from Flagstaff. We all met on the 13th of March 1960. We were then supposed to go to Ngquza, we never got there because we stayed in Mcokotheni, the boers came, they started shooting, they shot sporadically, we left and went down to Nhodi where we were supposed to meet. We then asked a man, Linda Mabija that asked a person that's with the chiefs now and again, and would go to
As we were going down the mountain, about 48 police vans emanated. They came and they stood before us, they were silent, they stood in a line. We did not say anything either. I think Mahambehlala's son who had a gun, shot in the air and this is when the police said we must disperse, they gave an order. As we were starting to leave, the helicopter came, there was tear gas everywhere.
MR GXABU: It is a helicopter. I thanked the Lord that nobody died because of the helicopter, because it would fly just above the ground as we were lying on the ground. We were not armed, we only had batons. There were police all around, it was not just the helicopter that was there. We dispersed, went home and then a date was set when we were going to meet, the 6th perhaps. A decision was going to be made to go to the late chief from Nyandeni who is the father of Chief Botha.
At about 9 o'clock the boers came in their helicopter yet again. When we went there, when we realised that we were going to be shot, we had to protect ourselves in a traditional way, we went to a witch doctor so that the bombs would not get us because we were not armed. We did not go to Ngquza. When we went to Ngquza, a cow that was taken to
As we were just sitting talking a helicopter came yet again from the Bizana area towards Lusikisiki, a second one came by. When these helicopters approached, there were men there that were informers, Vangeli Mdolo, Vavadliwe, we were told that as we were sitting there they had gone to the shop at Fafaza informing the police that we had gathered yet again. We were demanding information as to what they told the police. They then confessed that they told the police that we were gathering. A second person was talking, an evangelist Dolo, he was arguing, a helicopter came flying around Ngquza, we were not on the mountain as such, we were right at the bottom because we were disturbed. A second one came, it landed and quite a number of police came out, another one came and a number of police got off from it as well. No one was armed except Wanna Johnson who had gone to help Stefele who had been detained. He had a gun. When these helicopters came we were asking ourselves as to what we should do to peacefully continue with the gathering. We took a pillar and put a white cloth around it, demonstrating in the form of a white flag that we wanted peace. It was Mabeles Pilla who should be here in the hall. We were trying to show them that a white flag was symbolising peace.
Four police stood around us, when they were about 100m from us, we decided that we should sit down and only one person should talk. We thought that they'd come to talk to us. They had huge machine guns, we called these machine guns nduludulu. Mr Maqlaqa who is here, from Mahlenyanga
are here to kill us. The second person who died or who was shot was Ngelishe. Maxlaxla then said we must fight. We went, Mr Chairman, unarmed, they were shooting at us. Donsa who had the white flag that symbolised peace would shout and think that it was the last bullet but they would continue shooting.
The four police were shooting at us and above us were the two helicopters who were also shooting at us. I think Mr Chairperson, they started shooting and beating us up from 9 o'clock in the morning and they stopped at 6 pm. Some of us were able to run into the forest. There people all around the mountain shooting at us. Mr Chairperson, it was such calamity, we people were injured, we carried 58 people to Mr Tswele's house who is here this morning, he's a short man who is crippled. He was also beaten up. Some of us were able to move even though we were shot. One man was shot from behind in his buttocks and the bullet got out of his body through his navel. The gentleman sitting next to me was shot as well. We left 11 men who died instantly. These men that were left there were Wanna Johnson, Chipisela, Ndolo, Gere, Ngilishi, Poposho, I have a list here, I will give it to you later.
Mr Chairperson eventually these men left us, we gathered our injured and those who passed away. The looked for Dobula and eventually they found him. They had already shot him, he was bleeding. They did not see that he was hiding in the tank, they shot at the house, we carried him
been shot. We refused to go into the hospital. Mr Quanthrie(?) whose leg was practically amputated, we were told that he had been detained. We then phoned the magistrate, telling him that people had died. He said we must bury them. We then asked how we're going to bury them because the police are there. When this happened our chiefs were not there. We heard that they had gone to a farm in Umzinkulu. These were the people who we were supposed to be consulting with. We then sent a message to Chief Nelson Mhlanga Segau, we asked him what he thinks of what is happening to the Pondo people. He did not reply because he was scared. Also Chief Squebo who was taken to Nanda to hide. It was in the morning. We had to nominate some men to go to Ngquza to see how the people were. Lamketi who was a sergeant in Flagstaff then came, stopped us, asked us where we were going and we told him that we are going to Ngquza, he then said they are going to kill us and finish us off. He said that the government had said that they must kill us. These men were buried on the same land. We left them there, people were then detained. They beat you up, they don't play games. We needed money as well for attorneys to assist us. Nonjebu was beaten up, his testicles had swollen. On the 6th we went to Ngquza yet again, Abraham a white man from an embassy in Umtata came, he said he wanted to talk to us. They were tense at Nofezile. We had with us a mayor and he asked us what our problem was. We told him that the reason was because we did not want passes, Bantu
education and all our complaints. He said he would get feed-back. We also told him how the police had beaten us up and had violated our rights. We then tried to get attorneys, I think one of them was Mr Swarts, another
Ariston(?). The gentleman sitting next to me whom we'd sent to get ... (end of tape) ...Ndoda Ndengani, then said, if it is true that we had a gun and shot at them, can they - this gentleman requested that one of us be given a gun to use and try to shoot at a policeman, just to demonstrate that we were not able to even use these guns. It then became clear that the magistrate had sent these people to kill us and Mr Swart asked the magistrate not to be in the bench and this request was refused, and one attorney from Natal came and the magistrate was removed from the bench and another magistrate was brought in for our case.
After that we were called to this helicopter field where we all met and this person came and explained to us about this situation. And Matshibini who has passed away now, came he stood up and told them that we want to be represented in the parliament and we want the pass laws not to exist and we don't want the Bantu Education and we don't want to pay taxes because we are giving them our sheep and our cows to pay for taxes. And he told us that he would come with a report, and he came back and he told us that we were baboons and we would not be allowed to go to Cape Town because baboons are not allowed in the parliament. 'What
will happen in your grievances is that you will be given your own parliament in Umtata'. And we gathered together to discuss what we will do because we did not want our own parliament and the Mpondo people decided to send Chief Luthuli who was a member of the ANC, as we were members of
the ANC, because it was banned and we called ourselves Kongo and you will see that as we were calling ourselves Kongo, that was derived from the African National Congress and the boers were not aware that we were members of the ANC.
And people were elected that were supposed to represent us there. We elected this man next to me to go to Mdengi in Natal, Mdengi from Bizana, they would go to Luthuli and their answer was that Albert Luthuli said that we must accept what we were given. We have to elect our people to elect us in the new parliament and we did that.
MR GXABU: Yes. They were going to go to Albert Luthuli. At the time he was banned and he was under police guard. This gentleman will tell us how they managed to talk to him although he was under police guard.
We elected people who will go there and represent us. Mr Bubu was one of them, Mr Digo was also going to represent us in this parliament and all of these people went to the Matanzima parliament and the case continued. It was said that we had to pay for the people that were injured and for those who died, we have to pay for their families.
Clothes were sent, old clothes were sent to these people and in 1961 we were banned and we were not allowed to go to work,if you were inside this area you were not allowed to go out and nobody was allowed to come in, so we couldn't go to work and din 1961 the police came to arrest us and we tried to fight for ourselves, and my wife was responsible for interpreting for our people. One man was severely beaten up because they wanted him to talk and he couldn't. One of the policemen who was there was Lamketi Ponteis(?), they were and Mankinyana was one of them. At the time of
anything, but what surprised me is that there were people who were arrested and who were hanged in that in 1970, Tuleni Mfumu Nwai was one of them, Nota and Zadunke Gavu, they were arrested and their case was not amongst our case and they were hung because they were present in the Ngquza Hill incident. They were found guilty for beating people who were known as informers, although there was no evidence that any of the people who were labelled informers was ever beaten. Even their families are here today, families of those people who were hung and I have a request that these people, their bones must be brought back so that we can bury them, even that we request for a monument in the Ngquza Hill. We made this request to the past government that we need a project in our area as the people who were fighting for our struggle. We won this case that we told the magistrate that the white man had just beaten us up because we were fighting for our government. In 1971 Toby Johnson, at the time we were driving taxis, we were staying with a policeman in 1971 and this man told us that the was amongst us in the struggle, although he was a policeman. He was taping all the conversations we had.
On our first day Winston Johnson was called and I went with him and when we got in that place there were policeman from Demdodza's police station, and this man told him to speak any language and they asked us what we were doing the Tambo house and they told me to go, to leave and Mr Somdiza was beaten up. I was not arrested at that time. We made a
statement that we were taxi drivers and there was a taxi man log book and the case proceeded to Maritzburg and one of the people is here to testify today and it was concluded that we must not be charged or found guilty because we were just
driving taxis. Two men were sentenced to 10 years on Robben Island, Tshumani was one of them, there was a field in Khambati and one of the people in our area was beaten up and most of the people who were arrested died, not because they were ill but due to the injuries they sustained in prison.
This is a picture Mr Chairperson of the Ngquza and Arisdane(?) said that a post mortem was not conducted on those people and the doctor was called to examine the bones of these people, and they were then reburied after this. Mr Landu asked us to pray because the police were digging people who were already buried so that the doctor could examine them. We had Reverend Landu who was buried in Lesotho, he left his wife here and his wife died here. Mr Landu went to Lesotho because he was running away from the oast government.
On the day people were killed in Ngquza in June 1960 we gathered in a place called Hlangeni, we were trying to think about what we're going to do about these people, the law stipulated that a person cannot be buried if the post mortem was not conducted. I will call them as Makegamba because that's what they were called then, the policemen, Sgt Lamketi came, he said that he wanted five men, he didn't want all of us as we were gathering at that place, there were many of us. We then elected these five people, five men, I was one of these men. When we arrived to him we said that people have died, are we supposed to do? He responded, go and bury these people because there's no white man who's going to go there where these people have died.
At that time the doctors were white men and he thought that we would revenge ourselves on these doctors as they were white men and the story continues as mr Gxabu has already said. I would just like to emphasise that people were arrested, many of them were injured at the time and we found Mr Swarts who was the lawyer, and one man we can mention as Reverend van Djons(?) who was in the parish of Holy Cross, he sacrificed his life because he was representing people and they were released, and the case continued.
As I have already said, my point is we went to look for a lawyer in Durban by the name of Aresden and on the day when our case was in court, the police were denying the number of people who were buried in ...(indistinct) in Ngquza, they were denying that there were 11, they were fewer than 11. As we were saying that they were 11, we had
to prove that and Aresden requested one doctor to help us with the post mortem and there was no doctor available because we were told that white men cannot go there. And Aresden suggested that we have to go there to count the
The magistrate together with Mr Somsashlo who was an interpreter here in Lusikisiki, he's on pension now, the magistrate was Mr Harvey, when we arrived there people came from different places to observe what was happening. When we arrived there Mr Harvey told us to go to the graves and the people said that they were not going to go there. And then he said that we must go and dig the bones of the people there, and Mr Landu asked us to pray, and he did that, he prayed and then Mr Harvey addressed people that we came here because of your lawyer Aristen as we were arguing about the number of the people who died. And Aresden, as he was the one who suggested that the graves should be dug, he was not allowed by the government to come to this area. And he went back to Durban and he left us alone because we had no lawyer we can trust, and we decided to look for another one, as we had Mr Swarts. We found Tqanqa(?) who was from Idudja, who helped us when we were investigating these cases as members of Kongo, and we found another lawyer by the name of Sachs from Cape Town. He was the one representing us in this case.
It was the first time for us to see that a white man can be interrogated because we thought that it was only black people who were asked questions. And as Mr Gxabu has already explained, that there was an argument that the
Mpondoland people were fighting against the police, and our lawyer asked them where are the people who got injured, where are the police who got injured and there was no one who was injured in the police side, and as Mr Gxabu has
already explained, there was no white police who came up and said that any of them were injured and it became clear that we had won the case and people were to be compensated. The families of the people who passed away had to be compensated because the people who killed us were used by the government, the government refused to compensate these people up until today.
To save time, it emanated that why is it that the Pondo people could be so oppressed? There was then a meeting for all the Pondos at New Prison, the new jail that was built by Kedi Matanzima was not there yet, this was a day that clarified what was a problem with the Pondo people as Gxabu had already stipulated. There was feed-back from Abraham Somokhonco. The fed-back was such that we could not be members of parliament in Cape Town. The NAD, Nthabaza Bantu, we did not want them to represent us, we wanted our own people who knew our customs well. We then decided that we would go to Umtata and get feed-back from Pretoria. It then became clear that we could not go to Umtata because that's not the parliament we wanted. I was then elected to be one of the people who represented our people to go to Albert Luthuli. He was banned already, he could not come to the people himself.
I got to Leonard Mdingi and other people who were members of the struggle, these were the people who were going to channel a way for us to see Albert Luthuli as he was in jail. Four men including myself and Mdingi got to
this place in the evening. As Albert Luthuli was in jail and heavily guarded, we tried to sneak in. We left the car behind, we literally crawled into the jail. One of us went through a pipe so that he could talk to Albert Luthuli. We
took him, went to a small hill where we spoke to him telling him about the Ngquza calamity. He said to us, Comrades, there is nothing I can do and you cannot fight whilst you are outside. You can fight a bit better when you are inside. What he was advising us to do is for us to elect our own people and go to Umtata and fight from within the parliament there.
These people were elected, I'm trying to drive a point home that after the court case, after we'd gone to Umtata, we were under a terrible state of emergency. We could not just stay at home, we would have to sleep outside in the fields, only our wives left at home. We'd get up in the morning and the village would be surrounded by police vans and you could not go anywhere. It was during that time that I also got into trouble. The problem was that my house was surrounded, the white people thought that I was inside. We did not have a police station in Msosatha(?) yet, there were just tents. Id was looking at these police from across. They left after one (o'clock), I went home to find out what was going on, the members of my family said that they were looking for me. I then later in the day went to find out what the truth was. I was told to come back the next day.
The following day, they handcuffed me. After a short while in the tent I asked why do people get handcuffed, he then laughed and he took them off. Though I was detained I had just gone to pay Arinsen in Durban, somebody informed the police. Unfortunately I did not know that I was going to be detained. I had a receipt in my shirt that I had paid the attorney fully. Arinsen was not wanted in Pondoland by the boers. They phoned ..(end of tape) ...they took all sorts of documents from my house, I took this receipt as I
was in van der Merwe's car, he was driving and I chewed on the receipt. I ate it and finished it, if they were going to see it they were going to see it in my faeces. I realised that this was going to give me a lot of problems because they did not want Arinsen.
I was then taken to Flagstaff, from Flagstaff to Kokstad, the white men did whatever it is they wanted to do with me. Eventually they took me to Mt Ellis, there were even more problems for me. It was raining on a Sunday, we were detainees in a house waiting for our court case. Mr Rhadebe had been detained, we were all in the same cell, he had been shot in the arm and his arm would be painful now and again. Just before we were released, we had a prayer meeting with a man from Bizana. As we were praying we were praying for Rhadebe because he was in such pain, we were asking the Lord our God to help us, so we asked that his arm will be healed so that he would be able to sleep at night. We continued to pray even though we heard a terrible noise. We were creating problems for ourselves, so it seemed, there was a mad man. I had already been punished for this and I was put in solitary confinement. I was peeping through a small hole, I saw a man, this mad man that was beating up the police. He was put in a cell just ahead of me. This man would not sleep, he would make all sorts of noise. After a few days a white man opened my door, opened the mad man's door as well, this white man threw me into the same cell as this mad man. This mad man was standing up. They would
bring him food, he would eat his food and then he would excrete on the same plate. When I got in there I thought I was going to die because I saw this man beating up the white man. I then realised that I must go back to the same God,
I knelt down, I said to the Lord that he must make a way for me. A man from Bizana was also thrown in. Fortunately the mad man did not hurt us, we were saved. After that, after six months, I was released after I had given my whole report. I think that from Gxabu's report I just gave a fuller picture, thank you.
MR SANDI: Thank you gentlemen, you have given us a clear picture. I just have a few questions that I will not ask immediately. I will ask Mr Chairperson as Mr Cele is also here. Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr Cele I have already greeted you, it looks like Mr Gxabu and Mr Silangwe have said a lot. They talked a lot about things that happened at Flagstaff and at Holy Cross, you are from Bizana, you want to talk about the meetings that you'd have, we've heard Mr Gxabu saying that they realised that they were not the only people who felt oppressed, therefore if you could please tell us what happened from the Bizana area at the time?
MR CELE: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. The things that happened in the 1960's, 1959, we heard that the chiefs were called in Umtata and there were two things which were decided there, one of them was about the land and the other one about the money, and they were made to choose between the two, money or land. Most of them chose the money and there was only one chief, Chief Nomakhotecana from Zise who chose the land. And they came to us telling us about the report back from Umtata. People from Mbobeni, as they were nearer to the chief, were told about what was decided in
Umtata in 1959, and they were not satisfied about the report back. They felt that they were not represented in this tribal court and they gathered together on one hill and stated their grievances. They decided that they have to tell the magistrate that they were against what the chief has told them. Some men were elected to go to the magistrate to inform him about this and to ask him to come to the place where they were governed. Instead of the magistrate coming to them, he sent the police and soldiers to shoot at the people and the police came and scared the people with guns so that they ran away. When other people heard about this, they decided that we have to have a meeting in the hill in order for people to voice their grievances.
We were complaining about the tax because we had to pay taxes with our cows and we had to pay R12, and this money was known as nosheleni. We were also against Bantu Education because we saw that the chiefs chose money and they sold out our land. We decided to have our own meetings and to make our own laws and to decide who to voice our grievances to. We met in the Ndhlovu Hill and we stated that a person has the right to go wherever he wants and a person has a right not to carry a pass. A person has a right to have an identity book. We called the magistrate from Bizana, we told him our grievances and we talked to him from about nine up until three, and he told us he was hungry, he did not have anything to eat all day. We were asking him all sorts of questions and he said that he cannot answer our questions because we demanded that he must give us answers immediately. He told us that he will talk to the chief magistrate in Umtata who was Librant at that time. Librant came to Ndhlovu, he tried to disrupt the meeting
because he came with soldiers who came with their caspars and tried to scare us with their guns. Some of us ran away and some of us stayed and we told them that we are not fighting but we just wanted to talk to them. On these two
cases, when we called the magistrate from Bizana, and when the chief magistrate Leibrand came, we sent a message to Flagstaff and Lusikisiki and Ntabankhulu and Mount Elif, Mt Frere that we were in a struggle, and we wanted to be liberated, because we could see that we were oppressed by the past government. We wanted them to be present when the magistrate came and when the chief magistrate came. They came to this meeting and we had a meeting with the magistrate from Umtata from 9 and at 3 o'clock he said that he was hungry, he wanted to go. He also said that he will send another magistrate to us and we released him. Abraham came and he also tried to scare us and we did not disperse, we talked to him just like we did with the past two magistrates. He said that we must gather near the shop so that he can get some tea and food. It became clear that he was trying to disrupt us. We agreed to go to gather next to the shop. All along he was trying to move us from the people from Flagstaff, Mt Frere, Mt Ayliff, Lusikisiki and Nthabankhulu, he wanted us to be far from this place. Because we were using horses at that time they managed to come and he told us that he would report this matter to Pretoria. He said that we must wait for men who would be coming from Pretoria.
We waited and after two weeks, the third week we got a message that we must go to town as the people from Pretoria will come to address us. We sent out messages to villages nearby and we went to town on this particular day and we
talked with people from Pretoria until it was late afternoon and they told us that they will report this matter to the Pretoria Government. We must go to our villages and wait. We went home hoping that we will get response quickly and
two week thereafter soldiers came who would not listen to us and began arresting and killing people. There was an informer, Mr Rhadebe from Ndhlovu who lied to the soldiers telling them that we were going to gather in Ndhlovu, I think it was on Wednesday but we were supposed to have a meeting on Friday, not Wednesday. The soldiers came to Ndhlovu with their helicopters and they came to Ngquza where they killed people. The spokespeople were arrested because they were viewed as being dangerous and the organisers of our struggle were also arrested as well as those who were organising finance for our organisation. There was one Solomon Madikizela in Ndhlovu who was our spokesperson, he was well known as Mbambeni, there was also Leonard Mdingi and the reverends from the Methodist Church because we used to open our meetings with prayer.
We heard that people from Ngquza had shot. There was nothing going on after that, our questions were not answered. We made a plan that we should try to go to Natal so that this matter can be known in the whole country and even in outside countries, and we took Inoch Kambele from Bizana, we already had a plan at that time. When we were in Durban we talked with other men, Leonard Mdingi, and saw that as Ghana was liberated, their president was Nkhruma, we wanted to give him a gift from South Africa congratulating him to be the first black president in Africa. We arranged for that gift and took men from Durban and from the villages
box where we put in drinks which were to be given to the president of Ghana. We placed Inoch Mbele and boys from Lamontville and from Mdendwe in this box and others from Johannesburg as well as our drinks and we closed and posted
When we were waiting for them to get to Ghana we heard that this matter was even known in Nairobi. We decided that we should inform the United Nations so that the whole world could understand and know what we mean when we say that we are fighting for our rights. There were people from the United Nations who came to look at this Ngquza incident and in 1961 there was a way we saw that our grievances were being heard. There was one man Doug who came to Ngquza with a helicopter and the white men were trying not to allow him to come here. We hoped that our matter would go well.
...(indistinct) then left, went to Pretoria. I got the Mercury the next morning where it said that South Africa had given ...(indistinct) a lump sum to oppress the matter of Ndhlovu. We realised that it was the truth. The Mercury was reporting the truth. We then tried to make a way to let our grievances be known yet again at Ndhlovu. The United Nations then sent a secretary. Men came to help us, men with whom we spoke the same language.
The boers came to my house, they took me as an activist of the African National Congress, it was the third time they'd come. They burned down four of my huts, nine of my sheep were killed, an informer helped the police find me, they shot at me, the bullet first hit a stone and then my knee which was injured. It was clear that they could not take me to hospital because they'd always been wanting me. Solomon Mandigizela, who was our spokesman took me to someone he knew to help me. They took out the bullet and then took me to Natal. Solomon Mandigizela was then detained, Mboshla was detained, Changela was detained as
well as other activists. They were accused of standing against the government of the day and the informers. Three men had gone to ...(indistinct)swana, then to Maritzburg where they were sentenced where they were sentenced to six months imprisonment.
MR CELE: It was in 1961. They were kept in Dimuseni and then were taken to Pietermaritzburg where their court case was. They were sentenced to six months imprisonment but they ended up staying for 11 years. One of them wrote a letter saying that the food that they were given was terrible..(end of tape) ... methol(?).It was clear that they were being poisoned. When he came back he could not swallow anything. He was taken to hospital in Durban, there was a man in the hall who took him to the doctor.
MR SANDI: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr Chairperson, because the evidence given here was documented I just want to ask a few questions as they gave a detailed report of what happened there is danger that the evidence that is being put before us is too long and we miss some of the important aspects. I want to ask that when you were being shot at on the mountain, did those people who were at the bottom of the mountain, was it just the police that were
MR GXABU: They could not prove their accusations that we were armed. They said that their helicopter was being shot at. It was clear the Mr Johnson's gun was not specialised enough to have reached the helicopter.
MS CRICHTON: Thank you Mr Chairperson, Mr Gxabu I want to go back to just one point you made, you spoke about the white flag being raised. You said that at that time when the flag was raised people were sitting on the ground, is that correct?
MS CRICHTON: Thank you, and one other short question, you said that the people were carried down to the house of somebody. What was the name of that man in that house where the bodies and the injured were carried?
MR GXABU: Two would not come to the meetings as such but they never ran away from us. Then there was another chief that would come now and again. The boers would ask him why he did not run away, and he would say the reason why he was not harmed by the people.
MR GXABU: One of the gentlemen is not here, but the people like Maoma Ndigezela would be taken there, they would hang a person in a tree when there was a court case. He would stay on the tree for seven days.
MR GXABU: It started by them discussing important issues with the government and they'd come to us with decisions and conclusions already being made. This is why we ended up doing to Albert Luthuli asking what we should do if the ANC is banned. I just want to add that the role of the chiefs as the people that were leaders, there came a time when as I'm going to clarify, as the chiefs were leading people, they were representing the people and the desires of the people. Then unfortunately there came a time when they were working together with the government of the day. Then there was division between the people and the chiefs. They would be given decisions by the government to take to the people. The people rejected such decisions. Then the chiefs would
go to the magistrate, the magistrate who led the chiefs. Then the magistrate would ask whether the chief was being led or was leading, was he a ruler or was he being ruled over? Then he would come back to us and say that we are going to obey him, no matter what.
REV FINCA: I think that we have finished asking our questions. I want to thank the three of you. That is a history of gallantry, we are proud of men like you. We are proud to people of a land of gallantry. It is clear that passive resistance, people trusting the Lord, going to meetings such as yours unarmed, did not start just recently but from way back. It has always seemed like a foreign concept from India, Ghandi, from America, Martin Luther King, but even in our own home in Pondoland there has been passive resistance.
It is painful, it is sad because a lot of lives were lost. We should keep this history and cherish it. I am glad that we should look closely at the detail of such a history. Govin Mbeke should be here today to give clearly an account that people from Pondoland played a major role in the struggle of liberation. He says that they got a strategy from Pondoland as to how the ANC should help in villages like this. Thank you for giving us this history. We are very interested to go to this mountain.
We have heard your requests that people that were hanged, their corpses should be brought over here to be buried. We have heard your requests that the people that disappeared, at least their bones should be buried in their