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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS
You are called upon to give evidence to the Commission regarding the attack in Xaluza, Edendale, during the period termed the Seven Day War. Would you like to give an overview of the political situation prior to this incident before you commence? --- Yes, I will do that, but before I talk about the politics around that time, the politics were not so much important to people then. It only became something that was noticeable after all this incident. At the beginning it was only the attacking of innocent people, people who did not know anything. I will tell you first about what happened. At the beginning of these fights the problem that we met - as the people of the community we would hear about Inkatha and the thing that Inkatha was doing, but we never thought it would take that much. What we have seen often we would ... (inaudible) ... then they would proceed to Mhlazashe. Then after that as time went on there were certain rumours that were coming from the leaders of Inkatha that they Xaluza place, as well as Siyamo and Edendale, they wanted to come and plant some sugar cane. And after quite some time, when the Seven Days War started, we were attacked by Inkatha members. They were coming from a rally on a Sunday, and if I am not mistaken there were more than 26 buses which were coming from the rally. They went past our area and they were shooting at the residents. As a result many people were injured, as well as children and elderly people. But what we discovered later on was that they were accompanied by the police, and they would conduct drive-by shootings. And the police were accompanying them and doing nothing to restrain them. Then on a Monday, when the fight started, we saw a group of people coming from the hill, that is Harewood, and when these people were approaching from Harewood the leader of that particular was Sikiza Zondi. Sikiza was the leader of the group that was coming from Harewood and was attacking the Siyamo place. Some were coming from further up. There was a block of flats from which they were coming. They were even coming from the mountains. And as we were still confused as to what was happening it was apparent that we had to run for our lives because we heard some gunshots, and some people were attacked with pangas and assegais, as well as traditional weapons. And the community tried to get together in order to prevent the attacks, but it was very difficult because we were not armed and we were fighting against people who were armed with traditional weapons as well as ammunition, live ammunition. But the most deluding thing was that the police would come, and instead of arresting the perpetrators or the attackers they would shoot at the residents and they would throw tear gas canisters at the residents. This went on for quite some time. Then on Tuesday morning there was a certain car or cars that were accompanying the group of people that came to attack the residents. That's a certain kombi that looked like an ambulance, as well as a red Husky kombi which was driven by Bruce, a certain policeman. And many of those people when they saw the ambulance they would run towards it, but what surprised the residents was that the attackers came out of this kombi that resembled an ambulance, and certain members of Inkatha would come out of this kombi and they would start shooting at the residents and start attacking. The very same Husky was also driving by and shooting people. It was Inkatha members as well as the police. Then thereafter there came a fight when many people were killed. There was a particular attack. I remember one elderly man who was staying at a certain block of flats. That was Mr Gunene. They got to Mr Gunene. He was sick and he was asleep, and when he saw this group coming the daughters who were in there with him advised him that they should run. They got there. He was ill, but they nevertheless killed him. Thereafter we never got to know as to whether these people got arrested or not. There's a certain group that came from Ntombela's stronghold, as well as from Sikizi, and we reported the matter to the police that the people were attacking the residents from the hill. And the police would approach the attackers, they would talk to them, and thereafter leave without arresting anyone. And whenever the police left they would start their attack once more. And when we used to look at the mountain or the hillock we would see KwaZulu Police approaching. They were working hand in hand with the police at that time, and the Inkatha as well. The KwaZulu Police would come and assist Inkatha in attacking people, and when people tried to protect themselves the Inkatha would shoot at them with live ammunition, and the police would also help the members of Inkatha, and they ended up attacking the residents. It was such a tragedy. It's difficult in my life even right now how I can ever forget what has happened in the past. You see, to be attacked by people unexpectedly you don't know what to do, because at the time you are innocent, you don't know why this is taking place. And the way they will attack they will just come in groups enormous in number, coming to attack. All that gave us another perspective. We could see that that was not just an attack, but this was a planned attack. People knew who to attack and how to do it at the same time. What was surprising us the most was that we did not know why we were attacked, but it's clear today that we were attacked because we refused to join Inkatha organisation. That was the thing that killed the community, that people were forced to join Inkatha. It's difficult and it is painful, because people died, dying for nothing, and not even know why they were killed - dying unexpectedly. And secondly, people who were killing ... (intervention)
Please behave yourself. Let's afford the witness an opportunity to ventilate and say whatever is in his mind, because this is the aim of the TRC, for people to ventilate an open up now, when you intervene and disturb him ... (inaudible) ... innocent people, old and young. It's a very serious thing this you are about to hear. Please let's not make this a joke, laugh about or make this a laughing stock. Please understand of what we are doing here is a very serious thing, so we are pleading with you people. We are pleading with you people to behave. --- What we expected as the community was that we should run towards the police, where we could get security and safety, but we did not get all of that. The only safety we got from the police was just being shot and killed, and on top of that attackers killing us, innocent as we were, and also police conversed and made friends with those people. I will end here.
You mentioned a name of someone who was driving that red Husky, a policeman, but I didn't hear you very clearly. Are you able to say who that was? --- The person who was driving the red Husky was a boer, although I don't know his name, but those who knew him said he was Bruce. The one who was driving the ambulance I don't know him, but he also was a white man. And people were just getting off from the ambulance, youths by the names of Makatha and some others that I can't recall their names, who were also attacking.
You've said to us those people were Inkatha that got off the ambulance, but you don't actually know their names. Do I understand you correctly? --- Yes. It was Makatha Zondi, the one that I very well remember, and I saw him getting off the ambulance.
Who was the leader from the other area you spoke of, Umphumuza? --- The leader who was coming from Umphumuza - the only person I knew very well, who was also one of those associated with Inkatha, I think he was Philip Zondi. He also was one of those who were committing atrocities in the community. You see, at Umphumuza there's a place that differentiates the two places, Umphumuza and Xaluza, and Philip Zondi was coming from that area.
Do you ever get to meet or probably talk and so? --- Yes, we do meet with him, but we are not so much close. At the same time we do talk, and he is also repentant from what he used to be, although there are questions from people who were affected by these things. They have a problem with him.
One other question I have for you, Sir. There's one statement you made mention of that people even laughed at. I would like for you to repeat it so that I know what it says. You've mentioned two places here, and you said those places were said that they will plant sugar cane from those places. What do you mean by that? --- What I understood from that was that ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 3) ... respected told the kids to run away, he will remain.
Where is his family now? --- His family is around still, although they are not at that place because the house was burnt. I don't know where they are, but I know for sure I do meet them from time to time.
We'll appreciate if those can come forward because they were highly affected by this gross human rights violation. We will appreciate for them to come forward and tell us how the whole thing took place. Thanks.
That you found yourself protecting the communities, when the communities and the police should have been protecting people like yourself and others younger than yourself. Won't you elaborate that people like you, your age then, what happened to them and where are they now, and according to you, probably from your opinion, how those people will be of assistance today? --- They are around. It's difficult for me to say how they can be of help, because even that very day it's not like we were protecting the community. It was also difficult for us how we could even protect ourselves. I can't say and claim here today that we protected the community. I believe that God protected us all. Yes, it was a way of fighting them back, probably throwing them with stones, but that was not so much effective.
But what would you say, according to you as a youth, where are others, the youth that can be helpful today? --- From my side I think it will be difficult for those people to be helped, because when you look into the details of the whole thing those people have lost so much. They have lost even their future, and even mentally some of them were affected, and you can tell that those people have no future at all after losing their homes, possessions and parents. Today they try this and the
So you don't think there's a way that they also can be helped? --- It's difficult for me to suggest even one way how they can be helped, although I think of one thing that may be satisfactory to them is that maybe something should be done to make those people get back to their places, because there are people who left their places who are destitute today and do want to go back to their places, but there's a question standing that if they go back to those places is there any safety for them, because even today most of them are destitute? Some of those people had so much possession, but today they have nothing.
MR DLAMINI: Thulani, according to your statement, the one that we have here, you've noted about Mr Mhlongo and Mr Philip Zondi, that you would like for the a TRC to investigate about their involvement and their role during the Seven Day War. Why would you pick up on these very two? --- The reason why I pick on these two it's because their role - I don't even know how to explain their role. Maybe I will say they were the major perpetrators, the major people who were after the attacking of the flats.
The reason why I am asking, Thulani, is that when Mr Mgojo asked if you do meet with the other policemen you said yes, you do meet with him. Now, I want to know about Mhlongo and Zondi, that do you envisage going back with them, or probably getting back in good terms with them
like you said about the other policeman, that you do see him and talk to him? --- No, what I would like to be investigated the most about them is that they are around in the community today, but the things that they did, transpired and emanated out of those things, are things that led us or the community to question their integrity.
Thank you very much. We know that the Xaluza/Sweetwaters area where you are from was one of the worst hit areas early on in the Seven Day War, and, as you say, it is an area which is still affected by the events of that time. We have taken statements from many, many people like yourself, and we have selected a small number to give evidence at this hearing, but many of those witnesses say that the only time they ever saw the SAP, members of the police, taking any action of any kind was when they attacked and shot at residents who were coming together to defend their homes. And there is also ample evidence in these statements that the police sat by, these same police sat by and watched huge groups of armed men attack and burn houses after the residents had fled. And this is a story which we have heard very often in this province, right from Empangeni down to Port Shepstone, and it is important that these are not just general
allegations which are made about the police, but it's very important that we have on record specific evidence from people like yourself. So we want to thank you for having the courage to come here and tell us those stories today. Thank you very much indeed for coming in.