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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 04 June 1997


Day 1


Case Number JB2402

CHAIRPERSON: Is the next witness that we have, here? Jabu Maseko? Could the witness please come to the stand?

Good afternoon, Mr Maseko.

MR MASEKO: Good afternoon to you.

CHAIRPERSON: Welcome. Could you tell us who do you have with you there?

MR MASEKO: This is my wife.

CHAIRPERSON: Mrs Maseko, we welcome you too. Thank you for coming with your husband.

I would like you to take the oath, which Mrs Sooka will administer and then Dr Ally will lead you in your evidence.

MS SOOKA: Mr Maseko, will you please stand.

JABU MASEKO: (Duly sworn in, states).

MS SOOKA: Thank you, you may be seated.

DR ALLY: Good day to you, Mr Maseko. You're coming to speak on your own behalf; something that actually happened to you during a rent protest in January 1986. I'm going to ask you if you can tell us about this incident and what happened to you. Thank you.

MR MASEKO: It was in 1986, on the 4th of January, we were going to talk about the rent issue. When we arrived outside the stadium, we stood outside waiting for the councillors. They didn't arrive.

However police did arrive at the scene and they asked us to what we're doing outside the stadium. And we told them that we're supposed to have a meeting with the councils. They told us that the councillors are not coming and we asked them, why aren't they coming, because they promised that the meeting will be today?

They said to us; no, we're giving you five minutes to leave this place. We told them, we're not moving, because we're coming to protest against the rent. However, they started shooting and we started running.

Many people were injured. After warning we ran for some distance and we came to a stand. Later some houses belonging to policemen were burned. It was approximately two of them. When the houses started burning, I decided to go back home. When I arrived at home, I found that the house was locked and the next door neighbour told me that your mother has been shot - at the meeting.

Therefor I went to my (... indistinct). It's not that far, because it is about one street from my place. When I entered the home, she told me that my mother has been shot. I left that place and ran back to the meeting place. When I got out of that house, I heard some shots outside. I looked back and I saw some police, some were not cleared in police uniform.

Once seeing that, I discovered later that I was lying on the ground, I was shot. I didn't know what happened. I tried to stand, using my right-hand and I've realised that my left-foot had been shot and I have to sit down.

The police arrived at the scene and they took my into a car and took me to the doctor. When I arrived at the doctor's place, he wanted to give me an injection and I refused and I told him you've got to cut off the leg. And he said, he can do that here if they take me to Middelburg and he took me to Middelburg.

I stayed about two to three hours and later they sent me to Kempton Park. Arriving at Kempton Park, I stayed there and they took me to theatre on that particular night. When I woke up, I discovered that I was, my foot was bandaged. I also found out that I was shot.

When I arrived at ward 19, where I was staying, I discovered there was a policeman next to me. I asked him as to what does he want. He said, Jabu, you are Jabu from Sentetuki Belfast? He said, I'm coming to guard you.

I asked him, why are you guarding me? He said, no, you burned the police houses. I asked him, did you see me at those places burning the houses. He said, no, I'm just coming here to do my job. I have to guard you. So I stayed at Kempton Park.

And on January (... indistinct), 16h00, I was discharged and I went back home. At home, police came to my house. They asked me to come to the police station. I asked them, why do I have to come to the police station? They just said, just come, we will tell you when you arrive.

Then I went to the police station. They opened a document and I was charged for burning police houses and I asked them, do you have a witness to testify as to this matter? They said, you have to come to court.

At the very same time, they took me to the court and the case was reminded. And fortunately the date which was given for the next hearing was on the same date we have to go and see a doctor.

I had to go back to court. I was also charged together with some other comrades who were suspected of having burned the houses. However later they separated the case and there was a specific charge on me.

The court convicted me. I asked them, why did they convict me? They said, I was convicted for burning the houses of policemen. They said the evidence indicated that I was involved in the burning of those houses. And I was sentenced for five years suspended.

I was also on plaster and I had to serve that outside.

DR ALLY: Thank you very much, Jabu. Jabu, in your statement, you actually mention the name of the policeman who you alleged - shot at you or shot you.

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

DR ALLY: You also say that before you were shot, your name was actually called, in your statement.

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

DR ALLY: But, now let me just clarify two things here, because you mention the name of a policeman who shot you and then you say that on this particular day you said, I saw a White man walking on the road and he said to me, hallo Jabu. He was on of the police reservists. And then he shot you.

MR MASEKO: That's correct. He shot me.

DR ALLY: Now in your statement also you speak about the still then fragments from the rubber bullets. Is that rubber bullets? Were you so, were you shot with ...

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

DR ALLY: And this was at a close range? Was he right up next to you?

MR MASEKO: Yes, he was so close, very close.

DR ALLY: Now, in your case, did you mention these details? In your ...

MR MASEKO: Yes, I did.

DR ALLY: And did you have legal representation? Were you, who represented you?

MR MASEKO: Yes, we did have a lawyer who was representing all of us, but after my case was separated from the rest, I didn't have a lawyer. He only came to meet again for the sentence.

DR ALLY: So the lawyer only spoke in mitigation; not during the actual case itself?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

DR ALLY: And this policeman who you claimed actually called your name and then shotted you; was there any, was this followed up in any way? Was he present during the case, your case, when you were being charged for ...

MR MASEKO: He came once.

DR ALLY: Did he give evidence? Did he speak? What, or was he just there to observe?

MR MASEKO: He did give evidence.

DR ALLY: And what was his, what did he say?

MR MASEKO: He told the court that he suspected me of being one of those involved. And I asked him, how did he came to put me in this thing? And he couldn't give me an answer, because we were so many asking why did you say you recognise me.

DR ALLY: And what explanation did he give for shooting you? Did he admit shooting you?

MR MASEKO: Yes, he agreed, admitted in court.

DR ALLY: And what was his reason for shooting you? What did he say in court? Why did he fire at you?

MR MASEKO: He said I had a petrol-bomb in my possession.

DR ALLY: Now they say, when you were speaking earlier, you said that you were charged and then you were convicted on the basis of evidence. What was this evidence that was used to convict you? Was this those others who had been charged with you? Did they become witnesses for the state? Did they supply the evidence?

MR MASEKO: No, I would say it was just me and the person who shot at me. The others were not there.

DR ALLY: Now what happened to the others? You said they were separated. Were they tried separately or - you see I'm asking you these things, because this is the first time that we actually hear this. It's not in the statement. I've gone through the statement.

MR MASEKO: The others, some of them were convicted and sentenced. Some got suspended sentences.

DR ALLY: Did anyone amongst the group become a witness for the state? Do you know? Did anyone give evidence against you or any of the others who were being charged?


DR ALLY: So you've got a five year suspended sentence, you said? Is that right?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

DR ALLY: The lawyer, do you, can you remember the name?

MR MASEKO: I don't remember his name, but his base is in Nelspruit. It wasn't Mjapela, because Mjapela was representing the others. But I can't remember his name, the person who was representing me.

DR ALLY: But Mjapela would have known this other lawyer?

MR MASEKO: You mean Mjapela?

DR ALLY: The other lawyer ...

MR MASEKO: Yes, I think so.

DR ALLY: Now if you can assist us. I know that you may not want to answer this question, but it's important for us to try and understand the nature of this conflict that was taking place. Was it common place or was it happening fairly often that there were clashes between the youth I would say, because you speak about yourself as being a member of the ANC Youth League. Although at the time. we know the ANC was still unbanned, so I, was still banned rather, sorry, so I assume you're speaking about the UDF as opposed to the ANC Youth League.

Whatever. Were the clashes between the police and the youth; were these violent clashes, because you speak about policemen's houses as having been burned, you speak about this policeman, alleging accusing you of having had a petrol bomb. From what you can remember from this period, was this the nature of the conflicts; that is was violent and ...

MR MASEKO: No, I would say the police started the whole violence.

DR ALLY: And how did the youth respond? Did they also respond with violence? This is not about a portion in blame, please Jabu, or about who was right, who was wrong. It's just to try and get a sense of what was going on at the time.

MR MASEKO: What is happening is that, as I explained before, we were suppose to have a meeting with the councillors. And the police came and they started the whole violence. And even the evidence that people burned houses came to the police. Because if they didn't come, people would not have burned the houses.

DR ALLY: But houses were burned? Policemen's houses were burned? Were councillors houses burned as well? Houses of those who ...

MR MASEKO: They were burned after. I just heard when I was in hospital that the houses were burned.

DR ALLY: Thank you, Jabu. I don't have any more questions.


MS SOOKA: Jabu, you mention first in your statement, that your people were going to, you were waiting for a meeting with the councillors. Where the people in the community, did they accepts the councillors? Or were they against the councillors?

MR MASEKO: People just wanted to go and ask us to why the random just increased.

MS SOOKA: But we're trying to understand what was happening at the township at the time. Was it your impression that the people in the community supported the councillors, or were they against the councillors?

MR MASEKO: They were against the councillors, because they were protesting against rent, as I said.

MS SOOKA: Were the councillors seen as being part of the, of the old Government. Were they seen as representing the other side, in a sense?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

MS SOOKA: And so when there were clashes, were there clashes against the councillors also?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

MS SOOKA: So the people in the community were clashing both with the councillors and the police.

MR MASEKO: Correct, but I am saying we're just in the cars. The police started the whole issue.

MS SOOKA: Yes. And obviously from what you're saying, the police responded by breaking up these meetings and that is how you in fact, got shot. Is that what you say?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

MS SOOKA: And were, you did say that people's houses were burned. Do you see the township involved in the burning of these houses?

MR MASEKO: I'm not sure about that.

MS SOOKA: When you, did you, when your were interviewed initially by, in a group; why would the trials of the other people be separated from yours?

MR MASEKO: I think at the time, there were people who were still ruling and they thought, maybe the person who shot me, shouldn't be find guilty of anything.

MS SOOKA: And the people who were represented by Chapele; were they being charged with the same offense that you were charged with?

MR MASEKO: Yes, some of them.

MS SOOKA: And what was the charge for them; burning houses as well?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

MS SOOKA: Your lawyer, the one who gave evidence, at the time your sentence was going to be passed; did he come from Nelspruit as well?

MR MASEKO: That's correct. He was from Nelspruit.

MS SOOKA: But you don't remember his name.

MR MASEKO: I don't remember his name.

MS SOOKA: Thank you, Jabu.

CHAIRPERSON: Prof Meiring.

PROF MEIRING: Jabu, many questions have been asked about what happened in the township on that day. Can I ask a number of questions about yourself, about what happened to you? But before I do that, you said that your mother was also shot that day. Was she severely injured?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

PROF MEIRING: What happened to your mother afterwards?

MR MASEKO: I didn't get to see my mother as I explained that. After they told me that she was shot, while I was trying to go to the direction of the place she was shot, I was shot too.

PROF MEIRING: But your mother is still living?


PROF MEIRING: Thank you. I would like, Jabu, to ask you about your life. How was your life affected by what happened to you? Were you able to work, to care for your family afterwards?

MR MASEKO: No, things are not the same, because I can't do some of the things for myself. Even if people wants to employ me, they can't, because I can't stand for a long period.

PROF MEIRING: But who takes care of your family? Where do you find the money to live from?

MR MASEKO: My parents and my close relatives and some friends, they do give me money to send my children to school.

PROF MEIRING: You have three children. How old are they?

MR MASEKO: That's correct. My first-born was borne in 1983, November, second born in 1986, third born is 1991, April on the 1st. I'm not sure whether it's the 1st or the 21st.

PROF MEIRING: And all of them attend school at the moment?

MR MASEKO: Correct.

PROF MEIRING: You also say that you still have pain, that especially when it's cold, it's very painful. Are you undergoing medical treatment at the moment?

MR MASEKO: I used to go to doctors, but at the present moment, I just go to chemist to get some medication, because I don't have enough money to go to see a doctor.

PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much.

CHAIRPERSON: Jabu, may I just follow-up on the line of questioning of Mrs Sooka and Dr Ally?

Did a - it's clear by now to us, from our experience all over they country, that whenever such meetings took place, as you have been describing, and the police decided to disperse it, that the pattern that you've described is probably the correct pattern.

They give you a certain time within which to disperse. If you don't do it, they use teargas, they use buckshot, they use rubber bullets and they disperse the crowd.

In principle that is what happened. Now the difficulty that I have, having listened to you is that, that part you give us in exactly the same way as our experiences. But you seem to feel that we may be sitting here as a court of law, wanting to accuse you again.

So we don't get in the same open fashion your story as to really what the activities of the youth were. In your evidence you simply said that after you were dispersed and the people were running away, you say, two houses of policemen started to burn.

Now frankly, houses don't start to burn by themselves. People set fire to houses. They commit arson in some way. And this too, was a pattern in the struggle. Can't you tell us more about that.

I mean, surely you were an active member of the youth league. Was this a pattern? Did the youth do it? You don't have to tell us whether you participated or not.

But in some way you make, you create the impression as if you're saying it happens by itself. And there were two sides or more sides to the conflict. Won't you share a little of that with us?

MR MASEKO: I can't explain that, because I wasn't there and I didn't see the people who burned houses.

CHAIRPERSON: Have you never ever seen people who burned houses in the struggle? And let me again say; the years '86, '86 specifically in this area, of the sort of nearer Eastern Transvaal, they were very, very tough years.

I mean the security establishment went all out to stamp out resistance. It was a all-out war generally speaking between the security police and the broader establishment and the youth.

The youth carried the torture of liberation. I'm not using a pun when I say the torch. But the youth were really in the front line of everything. And the security establishment, by all our research and evidence from other areas, were all out to stamp out the resistance.

Now, is this impression correct, or is it totally untrue? Are we reading History wrongly?

MR MASEKO: I'll say the police started everything.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay. It seems as if we're not going to get much further on this. And we don't have to pursue this. Really, it's not a trial. It's trying to get to more information.

Just one last question as a matter of interest. You say the policemen that the community knew him as Magaduzabe; am I pronouncing it correctly - the nickname?

MR MASEKO: He was a reservist and he was not a police.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. What was his nickname and what does it mean? Does it have a meaning?

MR MASEKO: I don't know, but I know him as the manager of one bottle store and that the first time I saw him, I discovered that he worked as a police reservist.

CHAIRPERSON: Is he still alive?


CHAIRPERSON: And he still lives here? Is he still the manager of the bottle store?

MR MASEKO: Yes. He is not the manager of the bottle store, but he is still around.

CHAIRPERSON: He's still around. Just - sorry - this is a White man, you said? In your statement you did say so?

MR MASEKO: That's correct.

CHAIRPERSON: Then a - just again, lastly. Where, at what stage were you shot and where was it? Because I really couldn't quite get clarity on that in your statement.

As Dr Ally quoted you, you say you were on the street and here comes this man and he walks up to you and he says, hallo Jabu and he shoots you.

But in your evidence you talked about some other occasion. I'm not sure. Just for our record; at what stage and where in the township were you when you were shot?

MR MASEKO: It was next to my mother's place. I'd say it was next to my aunt's place and I was just getting out of the gate, because there were, it wasn't fenced, the police were just coming from the other direction, that side.

CHAIRPERSON: Were you shot from the back?

MR MASEKO: It was in the yard, my aunt's yard.

CHAIRPERSON: You said the police then came from the other side. Did they get out of the police van to shoot you? Or were you shot from the van?

MR MASEKO: They were on foot. The van only arrived after I was shot as I was struggling to stand up. They went away after shooting me and they came back with a van and they put me into a van.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Thank you for coming to us, sharing with us. We'll see what more information we can get and in due time you will be hearing from us.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.


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