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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS
Names MLAMULI MNGADI
MR SINGH: Mr Mngadi, just before you begin with your evidence could you tell the Commission of your background very briefly. How old are you, where do you live, etcetera? --- My name is Mlamuli Mngadi, I am 27 years old. I am from Ashdown.
Please proceed. --- I am not going to start with the Seven Days War, I am going to start with the events that took place just prior to the attack. The violence started in 1986 when Inkatha was forcing the residents to join it. They were attacking people, burning down houses, looting possession, and they used to rape the women. All this reign of terror that they conducted was not politically motivated at that time, it was just plain criminal acts, but they were using or veiling themselves under the Inkatha Freedom Party. And they would call meetings at a certain hall. They would sing Inkatha songs as well as hail slogans, and they would sing that UDF members should be killed where they were staying. Then thereafter one member was killed at the bridge just before you get to Ashdown. She was expectant. Things kept on taking place, and my brother was not a member of any political organisation but he was killed and they dumped him at the roadside. The people who witnessed the attack said they saw two cars, and these were Inkatha members' cars. They dumped the body at the roadside and people alerted others that there was a body by the roadside. These attacks and abductions took place, and they continued up until one day there was going to be a final exam at a certain school, and the students who were studying throughout then night at that particular school were attacked. And I was one of the students who were there studying and they shot me in the knee. Others who were injured were Bonginkosi Zondi. His hands are not functioning properly, he has since been disabled. That is - all this started in 1987, and we came together as a community and we decided that we should protect ourselves, and we decided that we were going to conduct night patrols and guard off, ward off the attacks. And some of the residents went to areas called KwaMphumuza, as well as Payaphini. Thereafter when we went to this area I think the residents were quite tired with the trauma that they were subjected to and they decided not to call themselves Inkatha or UDF members, they were not aligning themselves with any political organisations. A week wouldn't go by without an attack taking place. Then in December 1989 - it was on the 31st of December 1989 when Inkatha members attacked the area of Ashdown and a prominent member of Inkatha was killed. As the previous witness had already said that they had said that they wanted to plant sugar cane. This was actually their slogan. They would say that just before they attacked the residents. Then in March when the Seven Days War was about to start it was on the 25th - Ashdown is opposite Edendale Hospital, and we usually saw buses going past. They were more than 20 and they were heading towards Durban stadium, where an Inkatha rally was going to be held. Then on the 27th, I think it was on a Monday - just before that on the 26th in the afternoon, it was at about 2.00 pm, that's when the Inkatha started attacking. On that first day of the attack it wasn't as bad as the days that followed thereafter because the police were called and they quelled the situation. On the 27th, I think it was at about seven, we saw an Inkatha group, a very large group. They were singing Inkatha slogans and they were also marching, marching towards Ashdown. And as residents of Ashdown we came out of our houses and we were observing the situation. And we were waiting for the imminent attack. We were confused, we didn't know whether they were coming towards us. And as we were still watching we saw a number of people with rifles, shotguns and all sorts of ammunition, and they started shooting towards us. They also had traditional weapons. And that's when we realised that we should call a boycott or we should halt every activity, including going to work as well as school. We had to go back into the area to try and protect our families. That's when they started shooting in the area and people got injured. At about 11 midday the police came. They were driving in Land Rovers. There's another road called ZC. They stood and waited at ZC Road. They observed the situation and they turned back without doing anything. And the fight broke out. Inkatha came into the area. We tried to ward off the attack to such an extent that they went into Mpumuzi, where they burnt the houses down, and they also killed people. This war went on for quite some time, and at some stage we realised that there was no help that was coming from any source or any direction, and we were warding off the attack. And we saw a helicopter and it disappeared to the other side of the mountain. Just a few minutes thereafter we saw a lot of people, a large group which we didn't know where it was coming from, and they were coming from the upper part of the mountain, heading towards Ashdown, which is further down below. That's when they started attacking. We had been fighting the whole morning, and they chased us with gunfire up til such that Mr Mhlongo was shot in the neck. And one of the people who got injured was Sipho Zuma, who was also a community leader. There's a lot of people who got injured at that time. Some were coming from Dambuza, who had come to help us. There's a large number of people which I cannot mention that died on that day, and some got injured. They started burning down the houses which were on the outskirts. I think they burnt about 23 houses. They looted the houses and they took the contents of the houses, and they would burn the houses down immediately thereafter. We took the comrades who were injured to the hospital, and after the houses had been burnt down it's only then that the police came to quell the violence. They went away with possessions and people went back into their houses to check how much damage was done. From 1986 up to 1990 I think 50 people died. Many houses were burnt. Probably there were 30 houses or more. Some houses would be burnt, and the owners would rebuild the houses and they would be reburnt. Others were coming from KwaShange. They came to the Ashdown area to seek refuge and relief, and we got them places to stay. The people who came to our rescue in order that we should get some relief with regard to places to sleep, clothing, was the South African Council of Churches, as well as PACSA. They were the ones who were donating foodstuffs, as well as businessmen who came together and donated some foodstuff. Other refugees from Ashdown were getting help from the Advice Office which was in Ashdown at that time. They would go out and fetch food for the refugees from PACSA, as well as the Pietermaritzburg Council of Churches. We would like to express our gratitude to the Pietermaritzburg Council of Churches, as well as PACSA, who came to our help during a time of need. That's where I'll stop at the moment. Some died and some of the corpses could not be identified because of the state in which they were, but the Council of Churches came to their assistance, as well as the community of Ashdown donated whatever they could in order to try and help the refugees. That is all I will say.
I have got one question that I would like you to clarify, Mr Mngadi. I have been listening to this Seven Days War. The previous witness says it could not be called a Seven Days War because there was no war, but people were being attacked, maimed and killed. But the way you put it you put it as if there was a fight, different groups fighting. I wish to know from you that as the residents, or former residents, of Ashdown, was it different from other areas? Did you have any arms and did you fight or ward off the attacks? --- What I can say from my own perspective is that we were fighting simply because we could not do otherwise. We had to protect ourselves. It's not that we were armed beforehand and that we knew of the attack, but we found this as a mechanism in order to try and ward off the attacks in order to protect ourselves. But it was not a planned war situation like in other places.
Now, according to your statement you said you have come to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but you have not stated as to what your wishes are, or what suggestions are you coming up with. Do you have any specific wish that you would like to be granted? We do not have the powers to grant people's wishes or promise anything, but we do pass recommendations to the Government. Now, is there anything that you have in mind? As a member of the community that was torn apart what do you think you would like to be done with regard to that community? The manner in which the attacks took place you were in a war situation. That makes you a very unique community, but now as you are representing that particular community what are your wishes or suggestions that you can bring forth? --- I would like this Commission to help the people who were affected, especially those who are now destitute. We would like them to get some help from the Government with regard to rebuilding their houses and putting back the fabric of society to be intact. And, for instance, there is another person that I know who was disabled due to the attack. I would like him to get some help, whether it's medical help or any sort of help that he can possibly get. But my main wish was that if there's any help that this Commission could render it would be appreciated.
We wish you to encourage all the members of the community who were involved in this skirmish to come forward so that they can speak for themselves, and they can put their stories forward, tell us their first-hand experiences. We would appreciate it if you could relay the message if possible. --- Yes, I can try that.
Mr Mngadi, you have added your voice to that of the other seven witnesses who have given evidence here today, and like them you have given a very vivid account of the attack on Ashdown. But you also told us about the years which preceded the Seven Day War, and it is this period which one of the witnesses this morning, Mr Radley Keys, described as a low intensity civil war ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 5) ... gauntlet, and your community's response to that, and your account of these preceding years is important, and also obviously your account of the Seven Day War itself, because it enables us to form a view of what really happened in those days, which will then enable us to make recommendations to the Government as to how your communities, and the other communities that suffered, may be helped. So we want to thank you very much for coming in here today. Thank you very much. --- Thank you.