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Human Rights Violation Hearings

Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS

Location PIETERMARITZBURG

MR SINGH: Mr Zondi, where do you currently reside? --- I reside at KwaMnyandu.

Sorry, could you just repeat that please? --- I reside at KwaMnyandu.

No, where do you currently reside at? --- Well, it's a long time. I think I was born there, and my father was born also there, and my grandfather was born there.

All right, so you're telling us how long you live in this place. --- Ja.

All right. You've been called upon to give evidence regarding the Seven Day War. Can you proceed and tell us your story then regarding the attacks which commenced on the 25th of March or 26th of March 1990. --- I won't commence from this other part, but I want to start differently, because there were police who used to come frequenting my house even before the 25th, and they will come harass me at my place. And shortly after they leave my house an Inkatha youth will come to harass my kids when I am away at work. This took place four times. The first thing I want to say is that the police came with one white policeman, and he said to me, "You see, all the boys have repented, they are no longer UDF. You are the only one, and your boys, who haven't repented yet. Now, we do trust and hope that when you repent, especially that you are educated, and your boys are educated as well, all the boys in KwaMnyandu will repent from UDF." And I knew exactly what that meant. The second time around they knocked at the window. Unfortunately the window was not properly closed so they came through the window. They collected all the toys that belonged to the kids, they took them with, also took us and the kids. And when we got there, if I am not mistaken it was on a Friday, we were there detained on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and we appeared in front of the Magistrate. When we got there the police who arrested us were not present. The case was postponed and we were told to leave and go back home. When we got home the day came for the court case and we went back, and the police still did not turn up and the Magistrate therefore released us. Again the police came at night. Now, on that day there were neighbours, females, who came to our house, because we had a big house. And I suddenly heard from one of the ladies saying, "There are the police. I can see the torches." And I woke up and I also tried to peep through the window. I could see that they were just approaching and they were nearby now. So they were approaching the second gate, because I have two gates, and I asked, "Who are you?" They said, "We are police." And I asked them, "Why now are you hiding?" I rushed to the kids. Before even entering the bedroom, the children's bedroom, I heard a gunshot, and that's the gunshot that left so much blood oozing. And one of them asked, "Why did you shoot?" and the other said, "No, it's them who shot." And they took the boy who was shot.

Who was shot then? --- Ja.

Who? Who got shot? --- The police that shot I don't know.

No, who did they shoot? --- It was a boy from a neighbour, from Zondi's place. He was shot on the arm that evening. After that the police took him with, early hours of the morning, and they took him to the hospital. I will try to get his name. It went on. I did discover that, you see, it was something that was planned. You see, before they will come to harass us, the Inkatha, police will come first, peruse and search the house, and after that, a day or two days after, the Inkatha will come, knowing very well that we are not armed, we don't have any weapons with. I left that place. Now I want to proceed to this Seven Day War, which I don't understand why it's referred to as the Seven Day War because according to us, and as Zulus, what we know about war is that there are two groups fighting each other, not that people will be just shot and stabbed, innocent people. But I want to accept that because the Truth Commission has accepted that this is a Seven Day War, but I would not call this a Seven Day War, I will only call this a day of attack and a reign of terror. The 25th came. I won't even explain so much about the 25th because I was up at the mountains just nearby KwaMnyandu. I saw the bus stopping by a certain store. I did not know why it was making a stop there. When I was coming back with the cattle herded to my place I discovered my brother, the one who just left here, the son was shot and died, and the daughter by the name of Gabingane of my brother's was also shot. And they were there, they were at one place. I got home and I saw people running towards the scene to see how they were killed. On the 25th the kids were coming from Kings Park. Well, let me not waste your time with regard to the 25th and 26th and 27th. On the 8th war began and hell broke loose. I opened up for the cattle. When I was trying to lead them to the other side the neighbour asked, "Why don't you leave them alone?" As we were still conversing we saw - around Shange area we saw many people, numerous in number, approaching. There were the Shanges on the other side and us on the other side. It did not take long. Within a twinkling of an eye we saw them coming from the other side of the mountain, you know, the place that was separating the other area. The youths, the young men who were trying to stand the situation, they could see that they were fighting a losing battle, they ran, they fled, they ran away. My brother, the father of the deceased, was at home. According to our culture after your daughter has died you have to put on certain attire, and he was in that attire respecting what had happened to him. All the UDF youths ran away. I was only saved by the bush and one other friend of mine who is late now. It was Zimu. We were the only two of us, although I did not know where he has hid, because when I tried to gain entry to one neighbour's garden I found out my neighbour was already there lying down, and I lied right next to him. They came attacking the houses, opening up the porch, and one will ask, "Do you want a key?" We were quiet lying down there, very quiet in that garden. It was difficult for me to leave Zuma, the one who was lying next to me, because he had lost the other foot, he only had one leg. You know a man die trying and fighting, you just don't give up as a man. I also realised that because those people were close by, and were in the garden, if I had something I would probably not even have used that thing, because they would have realised and seen where the direction of this thing that was hitting them came from and start attacking us, and this other one was at a disadvantage because he could not walk, he had lost his leg. It was about one and a half kilometres, the people who had run as far as one and a half kilometres away from where we were. I tried to crawl when I heard the smell of smoke, and lo and behold they had already attacked Lawrence Zimu's place, and they left this house, they attacked the next one, they attacked the next one, they attacked the other one. The last one was my house. We left the kids, those who were still around, to try and see if we could extinguish the fire. Although the house was set alight it was not so much burnt. We could try some means to save the house. We discovered that everything, the furniture inside, was burnt to ashes, like the primus stoves that were there burned into ashes. When we got to the house they had already burnt houses. I got that one clear. We tried to extinguish the fire, but so much was damaged that we could not manage. We left to search for the other kids who had already run away. I told them, and especially the boys, that, "Little boys, leave, go. Zimu and myself," I mean Lawrence Zimu, "will see what to do here," and truly the boys did respond and said, "We will leave and we will go to Eden." And I told them that, "We won't make it to Eden, but you go," and they left. We slept in that bush area, so to speak, of it. The following morning they came to see how much damage they have caused. And I said, "Let's not go to my place." I told Zimu, "Let's not go to my place." We went to a certain man called Mr Vilakazi. I said, "I will go and have a look at my place," because they had taken about 22 cattle, about 15 goats. My possessions, everything in the house was burnt into ashes. My two cars were so much damaged. I went to Mr Vilakazi. It was myself, Mr Vilakazi and Zimu. We made our way towards my place. We could see that they were doing as they wished. It wasn't long they came. That was on the 29th they came, using a completely different route this time around. You see, our house is towards the mountain. Now, they came from the upper side of the mountain and they were approaching from some rocks from up the mountains. They were so excited and the mood was jubilant, saying, "They have left the place, we are in control." And as they were so excited up there in the mountain, you know, they looked like they were dancing they were so much in a jubilant mood. They were coming down from the other side of the mountain, from behind. Suddenly we saw them right on the route that we were supposed to use trying to escape. that's when I heard Vilakazi saying, "We are finished here, we are dead." Zimu said, "We are dead." The axe that he had from his place, because he said, "This is the only thing that was left in my house," he took it with. He did not know now where that axe was, and he had thrown it in some dustbin around there. Now we heard gunshots coming from those people to us. I just saw Zimu suddenly hiding, and the few things that I had with me, I don't know how, I just threw them down, but I had to find some place of refuge suddenly. Vilakazi had an opportunity because he hid at a better place than we were. Now, the three of us were each one in his own place hiding. We saw the mood changed and the place suddenly was in smoke. Now what was happening then, they were finishing up the houses that they did not get to burn the previous day. We were there hiding. We heard doors banging and we were in smoke. I woke up where I was hiding, I tried to crawl. I was looking around for Lawrence Zimu as to where he was hiding. Fortunately I located him. There was a police vehicle, the Hippo, the one we refer to as a Hippo. It was going that sound. They were taking the cattles. You see mine were taken on the 28th, now on the 29th they were taking the rest that was remaining, the cattle, and they took them with. If I am not mistaken I just heard one police saying, "Why are you taking these cattles? Why are you taking them?" One voice responded and said, "These cows belong to us, because they took our cattle so these ones definitely belong to us." And I woke up. They had already left, the area was clear now. We went and made our way towards Vilakazi's place. Now, there was a supermarket along the way. Before even getting there we met two gentlemen, white gentlemen, driving a car. They said,"Come join us. We've people we've heard that died around this area on Thursday." It was now myself, Zimu and Vilakazi accompanying these two white gentlemen. When we got to the scene we found two grandmothers - the other was Sibisi, the other one was Mtolo - lying so pathetic on the road and bleeding profusely. The grass was suddenly in a river of blood. They were taken. I don't know where they were taken to. They took pictures of those grandmothers and they asked, "How old do you think they are?" I guessed, I said, "Probably 70 years." Late in the afternoon the two gentlemen said, "We've already heard that at Ngubane's place there's something that occurred. Let's get there," and when we got there we found them. No, actually they decided now we should not go there because it was already dark to Ngubane's place. And we asked them to take us in their car to Ntuthuko or in Edendale. When we got there our children and our wives thought we had been killed because we were not there yet, but fortunately we escaped and we made it to the hall in Edendale. What made me so excited, and even to this day when I look at that area, and when I look at the Truth Commission and those who have witnessed KwaMnyandu, the attack, and things that were going on and transpired, and the tragedy. They came taking statements from us. I don't know how many statements we gave them. Even to this day we've never seen anything being done from those statements, or perhaps any action that was taken. It seems the statements were taken and nothing was done thereafter. Maybe let me just stop right here. You know my possessions I can't even tell you. There's so many things that were damaged. I am talking also about my doors, because they kept coming to the house and I will discover when I get there that my door was just on the floor. They kicked it probably and it broke and fell. And neighbours started telling me, "Stop coming and frequenting your house. Please keep away from your house because you will die."

Your story is the sad one, Mr Zondi. We can tell from the way you relate your story. You know, you've gotten into the details of the story, and we can tell from the way you relate that you are so highly affected. Now, tell us about the cattle. What happened to those cattles and so forth. Did they sell them? --- I had cattle.

(Incomplete) ... took the cattle, did they sell those cattle, or what happened to those cattle? --- Oh, now I understand. They took those cattle to slaughter them, because on Thursday one of them said that - I can't even remember his name - said, "You see the soldiers doing

/"this

this and that. I did slaughter two Zondi's cattle." Some were taken to Elandskop Mafuza(?) where they were distributed respectively to some people, and two of those cattle were returned. They came back to my place. They came, two cattle. Now, one day as I was just taking a walk, and hiding at the same time so that I may not be seen, I took those two cattle. I told the boys that I have seen my cattle and I will take them with to Edendale. Unfortunately, most unfortunately, they came to steal them from Edendale.

You've also said that when there was a visitor - one visitor was hurt, was injured on the arm and was admitted to the hospital. What hospital was the visitor admitted to? --- He was injured on his arm. He is though far away from our place.

Where is that? What are you talking about? --- He did not die. He is still alive.

No, Mr Zondi, I don't get you, I am lost now. You say the one who was injured on his arm is still alive. You mean the boy who was injured? --- Yes, he is alive. I have seen him, although his arm was highly affected.

You mean now his arm never functioned quite well after that? --- I don't think so because he was a Malombo boy, where my sister was married to.

I think we should encourage that family as well, you know, so that we get the full details of the story direct from them and see how we can help them. --- I will try my best to meet the uncle, because the uncles are still there at Mnyandu. They are still a few of those who never left the area. I can get back to the uncles. My last question, Mr Zondi. At Mnyandu and the neighbouring places what's there now? Are there any houses still, or how does the area look like now? Has it changed completely? --- You see, the houses that were not attacked the owners went back to occupy those houses, but as for my area I think it was only one or two families that went back. I also from time to time go and see how things are going on. My kids are there, but I am not there. And there's no day when I've arrived at that place and see nothing - and discover nothing. Every day damage was taking place.

Mr Zondi, you've said in your statement there was a white policeman, and the policeman came to you and said you and your boys have to repent and join the Inkatha organisation so that the rest of others can easily follow. Would you perhaps tell us his name? --- Yes, I know, but I won't mention his name because I may be killed tomorrow. That is the very policeman that gained entry through the window, and the other one. They came inside the house through the window.

Well, I do understand why you don't want to tell us his name. Maybe some other time you will tell us. But you also said there were policemen that came to arrest you and you were detained for the whole weekend. Do you know those police now who arrested you? --- I know this white policeman, because he was also there, but when we went to the police station he drove past and he handed us over to others, the black ... (intervention)

You mean the black policemen? --- No, they were mixed black and white policemen. Do you know their names? What I want is their names. --- You mean the police?

Yes. --- No, I won't disclose their names. In fact I only know one police because he was so much known, notorious because of things he used to do. Otherwise the rest of the policemen I don't know their names.

Mr Zondi, what court did you appear in that Monday and then where the case was withdrawn against you? Which court was that? --- I beg your pardon?

Which court did you appear in, which Magistrate's Court? --- It was just Vulindlela Court.

Thank you. Which of the two courts there? There are two courts. We can go back and look at the records, you see. --- At Vulindlela. There is only one court there, but it is divided into two rooms.

That's right.

Mr Zondi, we've discovered here that the media people did come to you to converse with you from overseas in Holland. I think those were the ones you met on your way. We will be showing that picture on Thursday morning at 9.00 am. In case you are interested to take a look on that photo please do come and look at it. We think you are the one who talked to those two men. --- Yes, different white men came. Others were from Scotland. I have forgotten the others where they were coming from, and they were with Peter.

They were coming from Holland, as I have said. On Thursday morning at 9.00 am we will be showing that picture. Please, we invite you to come and take a look on the picture.

Mr Zondi, thank you very, very much. The story that you have told us is a story of political intolerance, not a story of war. I agree with you that war implies a clash of two armed groups or two armed forces, and it doesn't mean the murder of innocent people. You said that you and your father and your grandfather were all born in KwaMnyandu, and it seems that on that one day in March that the work of three generations was destroyed. And now as a pensioner you have ... (intervention)

Please, good people, do not embarrass us. Please don't embarrass us. The Commissioner is trying to talk to Mr Zondi, but you are making noise. Please, we call that you maintain order and behave yourselves. This is embarrassing, for your information.

... and that as a pensioner you are now left without a home and without those assets that you saved up for your old age. And you might wonder why you have been asked to go through this again, to tell us your story, and as difficult as it is for you it's important to do what you and your brother a few minutes ago did, to tell your story about this event. This story has never been told officially before. Statements have been taken, but this story has never ever been told officially, and you and the other witnesses who have given evidence today have told that story, and this enables us to make recommendations to the Government, to the State President, as to how you and the many other people who suffered during that time in 1990 should be helped. So it is important that you come here today, and we thank you for having had the courage to come and relive those days. Thank you very much indeed. --- I also thank you very much, and I would like to add that - well, in fact I have been also wondering all the time since this six years being away from our places or from our homes, that there was just a dead silence about what events that happened at KwaMnyandu, KwaShange and Gezabuso, and I also thank you very much that you have just given us this chance to express ourselves. And I wish to add that my motto, my aim, is peace. If then the Government would try to help us, or to boost us of what we lost, then we shall be pleased. And we are willing to have peace with those people, because I seemingly do not see any reason why they had just to attack us having not yet quarrelled with them. So I would like that, well, of course there should be peace, especially at Mnadi region.

Thank you very much, Mr Zondi. We also hope that the work of this Commission can play some small part in bringing about peace and reconciliation in those areas. --- Thank you.

 
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