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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 04 June 1997


Day 1


Case Number JB2407

PROF MEIRING: Mrs Bembe? Mrs Bembe, welcome too from my side. You are going to take us back to the 17th of August in 1986; a number of years ago when your family was shattered by a very hurtful incident that took place.

Please tell us about what happened that day, about your daughter, everything you need to say to us.

MRS BEMBE: One man from Nelspruit came to my house and took my son together with him and my son never returned home.

I heard on the 27th that my son was also, that my daughter was also killed in a bomb in Nelspruit. However, the person accompanying never came back to tell, to relate the matter to me.

I was told that there were seven inside the car and only five died. Two of them survived; the driver and the person who was sitting next to the driver.

Up to today this person never came back to me to related the issue.

The father of the child went to the scene and he also discovered that it was true that the daughter was killed. And he managed to identify the daughter. And they asked him to produce his, the ID. They verified that this was the body of the person on the ID.

And further he also asked if he could personally identify his child. And they said to him unfortunately he won't be able to recognise the child, because of the injuries that she suffered.

They kept her at Nelspruit. He didn't get the chance to identify her. He went back the next day and they took him from office to office and later he happened to manage to identify the daughter.

He was cut into two pieces. They asked him, what is he going to do with the body? He asked them to give him the body, the corpse. They said we can do that, but I mean, this corpse, when we know the person, is known as Masilela. And you're telling us this is supposed to be Masilela. All we know, that this one is from Gloukou and she doesn't have parents.

It was necessary that she was supposed to be buried at Gloukou on Saturday. And he asked us whether we have alternative, an alternative place to bury the deceased? They said it will be best if they take the body to Belfast.

We said we didn't have money. I'm sick, I had come to (... indistinct). Then they took his documents. Then they said he should go and identify the coffin where they can put the corpse.

Then the Safas came from Nelspruit transported her to Belfast. Then she requested that as a parent then you could be given the lift to Belfast to where the child was going to be buried.

We did not know whether her father did find her or not, because it almost took us two days, took him two days to come back. We tried to phone the hospital in Nelspruit, but they couldn't tell us.

They told us that he's not there. We even phoned Safas (... indistinct) in Nelspruit. They confirmed the child's father was there. Then they called him to talk to us. Then he confirmed that he found her.

Then when he said, it was one who asked him that it is suspected that you bought the identification. But he confirmed that no, that was his daughter's body.

PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much, Mrs Bembe. Would you mind if I ask a number of questions just to take us through the story again? You say ...

MRS BEMBE: I may be able to answer some of the questions.

PROF MEIRING: Your daughter, together with her friends, were on their way to Nelspruit in the car. Is that correct?

MRS BEMBE: They were already in Nelspruit. Actually they were on their way to Kareno. They were visiting on one of the farms in Kareno.

PROF MEIRING: And then the car went over a bomb and the bomb exploded?

MRS BEMBE: Yes, it exploded and killed everybody that was at the back seat. It is only those that were in front seats that survived.

PROF MEIRING: And your daughter was amongst those? The women were killed, all of them in the back of the car. And the two men in the front of the car, they survived?

MRS BEMBE: Yes. There were two other ladies and two young ladies and two children as well.

PROF MEIRING: Do you have any idea who planted the bomb? Did you think about that?

MRS BEMBE: I don't have an idea. We're the only ones who wish to know what happened, who did this evil deed, who committed this evil deed.

PROF MEIRING: Was there an inquest afterwards?

MRS BEMBE: I don't know, because I reported the matter at Nelspruit police station, but they couln't help me. They just told me that my child was already an adult.

PROF MEIRING: How old was your child when she died?

MRS BEMBE: She was 26 years old.

PROF MEIRING: And she went with her boyfriend. Did they have any children?

MRS BEMBE: It was her boyfriend, but they didn't have any children.

PROF MEIRING: What happened to they boyfriend afterwards? Do you still see him?

MRS BEMBE: I last saw him when he came to collect her when she was still alive. I never saw him again.

PROF MEIRING: I would like to ask how this whole incident affected your lives? Your life and your husband's life, can you please tell us about that?

MRS BEMBE: We felt very bad about it. This went to an extend of killing my husband, because he was deeply affected by it. And even some of my kids, when they think of it, they all die. Sorry, they all cried, because they're thinking of their father who was also working for them and affected by this incident.

PROF MEIRING: Mrs Bembe, how many children do you have?

MRS BEMBE: I've got four children.

PROF MEIRING: Are they looking after you, or do you still have to work for a living?

MRS BEMBE: The one who takes care of me is the one that I'm with right now, but he is married and he's got his own home.

PROF MEIRING: But I'm sure that it's a privilege for them to have the granny living with them.

Mrs Bembe, thank you, my questions are finished, but I give you back to the Chairman. My colleagues may want to ask a number of questions.

CHAIRPERSON: Russel? Dr Ally.

DR ALLY: Mrs Bembe, in the documents which we have from you, there is a notice of an inquest when Amos Masilela is invited to attend an inquest into the circumstances and the cause of death of Sophy; which was to be held on the 30th of March 1990.

Can you tell us a little bit about this, who attended, what happened?

MRS BEMBE: (... indistinct)

DR ALLY: Sorry, I didn't get that.

MRS BEMBE: Okay. Myself and Amos attended, but when we arrived we were told that the case is closed. Nothing was being tried, because the child's father was already dead by that time.

DR ALLY: So this notice of an inquest; this is all record that you have? Nothing else?

MRS BEMBE: That's the only notice that we've got from Nelspruit.

DR ALLY: This bomb that caused the death of your daughter and the others; you say it was - were they on a farm road - what was - in your statement you ...

MRS BEMBE: Yes, she died on that road.

DR ALLY: It was a farm road?

MRS BEMBE: Farm road, yes.

DR ALLY: To Kareno?


DR ALLY: Now you also speak about, in your statement, first; did the police ever say anything to you about this bomb or to anybody of the family? The make of this bomb, the origin of the bomb?

MRS BEMBE: No, they didn't say anything to us.

DR ALLY: You didn't hear - they didn't speak about it being a Russian bomb or Communist country or anything? Can you recall whether ... (intervention).

MRS BEMBE: They didn't say anything to us about it. Till today we are still asking ourselves what actually happened about it? But we can't get anything out of it.

DR ALLY: Now, in your statement, I'm just trying to find it. Oh yes. When, in answer to the question of why you think this happened, you say, and I'm going to quote from you now, what, directly from what you say, and I hope you can maybe add a little more.

"I think it was during the time of political parties.

I also thought one of those friends inside the car was of other organisation."

I assume you mean political organisation. Can you just explain a little more what that statement means?

MRS BEMBE: I don't know anything about all the passengers in the car, that were in the car.

Because when he just came and collected him, collected her and he didn't tell where he was taking her to. And even after the death, he didn't come to report to us. We just heard that from other people.

DR ALLY: This is the boyfriend you're speaking about?


DR ALLY: And do you perhaps have some way that can help us to maybe speak to Absalom? Do you know where he is presently or could you assist us in getting ... (intervention).

MRS BEMBE: He's somewhere in Nelspruit, but I don't know his whereabouts.

DR ALLY: Do you know what kind of work he does or anything like that?

MRS BEMBE: He was a truck driver. He was a truck driver transporting some of the goods to Johannesburg at the time.

DR ALLY: But you don't know the name of the company for whom he drove?

MRS BEMBE: "Skilpad Verwoerd."

DR ALLY: "Skilpad?"

MRS BEMBE: "Verwoerd."

DR ALLY: "Vervoer?"

MRS BEMBE: "Vervoer", yes. "Skilpad Transport."

DR ALLY: In Nelspruit?


DR ALLY: Thank you very much, ma Bembe.

CHAIRPERSON: Mrs Bembe, thank you very much. You were in the audience earlier when Mr Msibi gave his testimony, which was a similar case.

And Dr Ally at the time explained the information that we had from the ANC and the submission that they made to us some three weeks ago.

They did also say if we should come onto any other cases that they did not point out to us, specifically, we must make it available to them and they will look into the matter and see if they can help us with further information and whether they accept accountability or liability for the incident or not.

We will certainly have this referred to them.


CHAIRPERSON: And we hope that in due time we can give you more information so that you could perhaps just understand a little better really what happened.

Although I assume one will never really be able to understand why it had to happen with oneself and one's child.

Thank you for coming to us. Thank you for sharing your story and your pain. The friendly and painful experience projected through your face, specifically, at the same time, is certainly something that I will remember.

Thank you for having come to us and we wish you well.


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