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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 17 July 1996


Day 1


Case Number 00513

CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon Mrs Madisha and welcome. Sorry for keeping you waiting. You're coming to speak to us today about Donald who died in detention as a result of what you believe was torture.


CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mrs Madisha, I'm going to ask Joyce Seroke to help you with your testimony.

MS SEROKE: Hello Mrs Madisha, I would like to know who is next to you?

MRS MADISHA: On my left hand side it's the daughter of Donald Madisha and Hudson Hladi on my right hand side.

MS SEROKE: In your statement you told us that Dudu, was taken on the 17th of January 1990. Can you please explain to us what really happened until the time you heard that he's dead?

MRS MADISHA: It was the 17th of January 1990. We were asleep when many police came and knocked at the front door. I asked my husband to open the door and then they came inside and they asked where Dudu is. My husband took them to Dudu's bedroom and his wife was scared and she ran to our bedroom. And then they came after her and they caught her and he asked the police if he could brush his teeth, and I asked the police to explain to me what my son has done. And this African policeman answered and said to me, "Didn't your son tell you what he has?", and I said that he didn't. And then they took him and he didn't fight with them, and they handcuffed him.

When I went outside I saw lots of cars and lots of black and white policemen. When I went back inside my house I sat down and then I said, "Now that it's time for me to go to school, let me go there and explain to the teachers". When I arrived there I saw Search Katalia who was the lawyer of the ANC and he was with one guy from the Maqlkala family and Maqlakala asked me if I knew that Dudu has been arrested. I said that I did and that I suspected it was because of Rapulo's case. And then Saturu said to me, "Mama, forget about Donald". I didn't understand very clearly what he meant, and then I went and reported at the school and I then went to Potgietersrus Police Station and I found an African policewoman who was with another white policeman, and told them that I needed to see my son.

They told me that he is not in Potgietersrus Police Station, he's in the Pietersburg Police Station. We decided to go to Pietersburg on Saturday as a family to check my son. They told us that we are at the wrong place because they did not arrest politicians there, we must go to another police station, which we did and they gave us a similar story saying that we must go to another police station which is closer to the court. We went there as well, we asked and one policeman did us a favour and tried to call Potgietresrus Police Station and he was informed that he was indeed in that police station. So we decided to go back to Potgietersrus and when we arrived there they told us that we couldn't see him.

We went back home and from there contacted Mr Sad Chachalia, who was an ANC lawyer. He told me at one time that I must not worry as Donald is happy wherever he is with his friends. So from there I decided not to tell him any more because I thought, maybe I'm boring him.

One day I was a work and then they told me it's better if I can go to Pietersburg and ask for permission so that I can be able to see my son. I came to Pietersburg with Johannes Klady's daughter and then when we arrived here we asked for permission and I asked them to give it to me in writing. They said to me it's not necessary for me to see him because wherever he is he is happy reading an English Bible that they brought him. They would tell us when to see him and we should just relax. I did as I was told but they never came to tell me that I can come and see my son.

I decided that I had tried ever means including lawyers to see my son, and I decided to go to Pietersburg one day to see Mr Boer and I told him I really wanted to see my son. He told me not to worry as he would go there and preach, being a minister in our church, and he said he'll go there and preach to him and pray for him, so that when he comes out of prison he will be able to be graduated.

We tried to write to human rights lawyers. He wrote on toilet paper, the first time telling me not to worry, he's okay, tell his wife that she must study and he'll come back. In June he'll go for trial and was informed that he must be a state witness, which he had refused to do.

I was relaxed because I felt that soon I would get a message to the effect that my son will appear in court. On the first of June 1990, four o'clock in the afternoon, I saw two policeman and one African man. I was so excited seeing them because I thought that I thought they were coming to tell me about the date when my son is going to appear in court. They talked about my son, the one who was arrested. I stood up as soon as they started saying that, and then I started crying. His wife was pregnant and she started crying. Realising that my daughter in law was pregnant and she really didn't need something like this to hurt her, I tried to comfort her and I told her that they are telling me that Dudu my son is dead, "Let's hope that inside here, inside your stomach you have a little Dudu".

They told us that if we want to see Dudu, we would see him on Monday. I thought it was just a prison procedure, so we waited for Monday so that we can go and see Dudu's body. On Monday my sister Adeline, his father and myself went to the police station and one policeman came to us but we didn't even bother to listen to him, we just went into the police station and we discovered that it was true, he was dead. When we looked at his body, one white policeman said, "Just sign here, sign here, we are taking him to the mortuary".

And then they told us that the post mortem will be done the next day. One person from Mashuraleng advised us that his own family doctor must do the post mortem because Mr Kruger can write anything that he wants to write. From there Dr Buthelezi said to us he saw water. That was the post mortem's result that he told us about.

We went back to the ANC. They tried to help us and said that we must postpone the funeral and they would call the ANC doctor so that he can be buried with them knowing very well what actually killed him. I agreed. He was supposed to be buried on Wednesday the 13th of June and then we postponed it. The police came, Mr de Lange, Mr de Kock who parked their car at the gate and hooted for us and demanded to know why we were postponing the funeral. I told them that I need to know first what really killed him before I bury him. Knowing how he died is what is important to me.

And one of the policemen said to me that the sooner I bury him the sooner I'll feel relieved. I said that may be his opinion but I want to know how my son died and that's why I am postponing the burial. Even in the mortuary I told them.

They went to the mortuary and told the person there that he must impress upon us that the mayor of the city wants this person to be buried. I realised that it was Mr de Kock and I don't take instructions of this kind.

The ANC people called the medical doctors and my son was buried on the 13th at Stadium of Mahureleng, that's how it happened.

MS SEROKE: Was Dudu politically active? To what organisation was he affiliated.


MS SEROKE: Would you please explain exactly what Satkachalia said?

MRS MADISHA: Dudu went to Sithutilwane School, so one day his friends came to visit him. What surprised me is that he suspected it was bullets because it was Rapulo's case, and I didn't know what was going on.

MS SEROKE: Was it bullets or arms?

MRS MADISHA: I don't know exactly. Even in court they didn't tell me, they just told me that my son had hanged himself with his shirt.

MS SEROKE: The relationship between Rapulo and Dudu, can you please explain that to us?

MRS MADISHA: They were friends from the same school. dudu usually wrote notes.

MS SEROKE: Dudu wrote notes, can you please explain to us what was written in his, the notes that he left in his jacket, what were they saying?

MRS MADISHA: No there were lots of notes in his jacket. First of all he wrote poetry and others were just after effects that he was relating that in custody he was being tortured and he wrote about the policeman, van der Merwe, Abraham Makai, Langa Byebye and the other one whose name I forgot to write, Mr Meni Mpunana. Those four were the police. They said Rapulo was MK.

MS SEROKE: Was Dudu as well?

MRS MADISHA: I should think so, I'm not sure but I should think so now.

MS SEROKE: In your statement you said Colin Matlaiele was given a message that she must tell you that your son was tortured. Did he explain to you how he was tortured?

MRS MADISHA: Colin Matlaiele told me after my son had died because I think he was afraid to tell me what really happened. And then he said to me, Dudu said, if he saw someone going home, they must please tell his mother that people are killing him there.

CHAIRPERSON: Your son was detained in January 1990. This was just before the unbanning of political organisations, and he was kept in detention until the first of June 1990. On what day was it said that he died? Do you have any idea for what the reason was for this detention, was there anything specific that the police wanted to know or were they questioning about anything specifically?

MRS MADISHA: I didn't know why he was arrested but they suspected that there were bullets. And I went to his bedroom, I found some dry cleaning which I didn't know to whom it belonged. They just told me that he had hanged himself with his shirt.

CHAIRPERSON: You've got those notes that your son kept and wrote down?

MRS MADISHA: I still have some at home, because I told myself that I'm going to give them to his son, the one that his mother was expecting at that time. So I kept them to give to my grand child.

CHAIRPERSON: Is it possible for you to let us have copies of that so that we can also try and piece together what happened?

MRS MADISHA: Some of those notes were taken by the inquest people but I still have some and I can bring them to you.

CHAIRPERSON: We'd appreciate that, and also, we did manage to get hold of the inquest records, one of our investigators, and according to the inquest records, the district surgeons who were on duty at that time, they were seen to be negligent in their conduct, because apparently the night just before your son died, the feeling of the inquest record is that the medical practitioners should have behaved more responsibly, but we do have copies of inquest records and if you can give us whatever other information you have, I'm sure it will be useful for us to try and piece together what happened. But thanks for your testimony. I don't know if there's anyone else who would like to ask some questions.

MR MALAN: You said that when you went to Potgietersrus, that you asked whether your son was there, they said, "No we don't hold politicians here, look for him in Pietersburg", is that correct?

MRS MADISHA: It when I was in Pietersburg that they said they don't keep politicians there and they sent me another police station which is near to Radio Bantu.

MR MALAN: You have no information which can help us a little bit more about your son's political activity and involvement? Are you sure he never held any position in any of the organisations?

MRS MADISHA: I just knew that he was a politician. As I said he was a member of the UDF and then afterwards, possibly MK, but I didn't know that they brought bullets into my house. I just realised when police came and took him.

PROF MEIRING: One follow up question, we will be hearing evidence a little later in the afternoon from Mrs Maditse about her son William. He apparently got involved four days before your son first disappeared. He was shot and killed. Were they friends? Your son and William Maditse?

MRS MADISHA: I don't know, because two boys came and I didn't know whether they were friends.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your testimony

Hearing adjourns.

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