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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 17 July 1996


Day 1


Case Number 00579


DR ALLY: Your'e here to talk to us about your son Solomon, before we allow you that opportunity will you please stand up and take the oath.

MRS MASDITSE: (sworn states)

DR ALLY: Mrs Maditsi, if you will please take us through the events starting on the 26th of January 1986 when your son was shot and what followed on that. We know that it will be difficult, but we will be patient and we will certainly be supportive. You take your time and tell it to us in your own words.

MRS MADITSI: In January 1986 my son left home. It was early, before he left he washed his washing and he ironed. I only knew that he'd gone away to play with his friends. I didn't have a problem with that, I thought he would come back at the time that he finds convenient for him. Late we prepared the food and we put it aside so that when he comes home he would eat.

The next day about nine or ten o'clock I got worried, but the previous night I had this dream while sleeping. I heard a voice saying , "Mama Mama", and I woke up. I went outside, I took a sjambok, I said I want to see this thing that's shouting Mama Mama outside. I went outside but I couldn't find anything. I went back into the house and I slept.

At about nine of ten o'clock the following day a boy known as Normal Malak came and he said, "I want to see whether my friend is here". I said, "No, where did you sleep?" He said, "We went to Majas' place but the people were fighting for chairmanship, and we wanted to stop the fight but in that whole incident there was a white flag written in red letters, saying, let us negotiate, we are not fighting, we are the black people, let us understand each other".

But these children who had left the place to go and resolve the issue, because there was a chairman elected who was above the others with points, and seemingly other people were against his chairmanship. Then my son was attacked. Shots went off and my son fell. The people from Maja took a panga. You know when I looked at my son's head, it had wounds and the eighth one chopped his neck. That's when I went to the hospital to see him.

I was so surprised by the police at Lebowa, because they knew the incident and the police at Nebo knew this thing as well, but they took my child to Simanyana Hospital and when they arrived there no doctors were available. It was afternoon and the doctors had already gone home, they took him to Jane Furs, they didn't alert the nurses that we have a patient here, they just chucked him on the stoep and they left him there. My son was helped by the workers, they realised that this person must be injured. They took him to the hospital.

You know, during the weekends it's hard to get hold of doctors. He slept there on Saturday, Sunday and the doctors came to see him on Monday but the doctor who was supposed to operate on him realised that he was dead. The police shocked me because they didn't even come to my home to tell me that my son had died. They only met a person on the road you know, I saw their car and I saw them speaking with this person. This person was in a light yellow vehicle and the driver was Marisane Pasha, he was driving the Moshate car, Then they said to him, "Stop at that place, tell them that Solly died in the hospital".

After a few days a man called Mashego came and he said he was an investigator. He wanted to know from me. I couldn't bear his presence. I chased him away, I said it doesn't help to come here and ask me questions because my son was killed by the police, and he was also chopped with the pangas. Go to Maja Village and ask them what I happened. I said to him that I don't want to see him here anymore. He left and he didn't come back.

After that the police from Lebowa didn't take any action regarding Solly's matter until today. I went to the hospital because I wanted his death certificate. They said the police at Nebo came to fetch his death certificate. I said to them where is the bullet that you said was a police bullet. They said that the police also took that bullet, and they said they could not do anything. Up to this day I haven't heard anything.

DR ALLY: Thank you Mrs Maditsi. Would you mind taking a few questions? Are you okay to answer questions if we may have them?

DR ALLY: Could I just try and establish the order. You say that this Johannes Leshabane was elected school principal, school chairman or what was it? He was elected chairman?


DR ALLY: Of the SRC?


DR ALLY: And then they marched to the Masha village to Chief Masha's people after the house of Johannes was burned. And they had that...(intervention)

MRS MADITSI: Johannes was not burned, his house and his property were burned.

DR ALLY: Did I not say that? Ja his house was burned and then they walked to the Masha Village.

MRS MADITSI: Yes they wanted to stop the fight, because out of all the boys who were there, he was the only one shot dead. The other one was shot here on the stomach, he is Donald Mathiba. While he was in hospital he was using drips but he's well now. He's working in Johannesburg, but I don't know where.

DR ALLY: Can you just help me in the order gain, maybe it went past me too quickly. The house of Johannes was burned, they went to the village of Chief Masha, they had that flag, that banner that they showed, Solomon walked with them. Was he leading the crowd? Was he leading the youth?

MRS MADITSI: He was at the forefront. He was holding a flag, because they wanted peace. He said they should work together, they don't have to fight as black people, and then he was shot.

DR ALLY: When you say he was shot, was it the police that arrived and shot him? Is that your information?

MRS MADITSI: I have to say it's the police who shot at him, because in the hospital we were told that the bullet was from a police gun.

DR ALLY: In your statement you also say that your son was shot and then hacked to death with an axe. Was he shot and then further attacked with the axe, or how did that happen? Who attacked him with the axe? Was that Chief Masha's people?

MRS MADITSI: The people at Masha's place chopped him, because all the men in the village came out to fight these boys. I wasn't there but I was told that when Masha's people came with their weapons, they lifted their hands and they said, "We are not fighting". The thing that hurts me most is that Solly was a cripple. He had post-polio.

MR MANTATHA: Thank you very much Mrs Maditsi. Please give her some water and we'll give her time to regain her composure. Please relax, don't feel obliged to us.

I have just one further question if you're alright to take that. You said at the hospital you were told that it's a police gun that released that bullet. Who told you that?

MRS MADITSI: A nurse that I found at the hospital told me that. That is the nurse who gave me Solly's clothes, at the time he was shot.

MRMANTHATA: I have no further questions. Dr Ally?

DR ALLY: Mrs Maditsi, it seems as if the death of your son took place because of a conflict between supporters of Johannes Letshabane on the one side and Chief Masha on the other side.

MRS MADITSI: Please forgive me. The other important point that I missed, to show that Mr Masha was really against the fight, he donated four cows to be slaughtered at the funeral. When I went outside I was told that these are the four cows from Hamasha, I nearly forgot that point. Please do excuse me.

DR ALLY: Thank you for that Mrs Maditsi. We also had our investigator come and try and find out about this case of your son Solomon and the account that he was given was that there was this march to the chief's kraal by the youth with Solomon and this flag, because they wanted to stop this conflict and the burning of houses. And it seems as if the police then appeared and the police started shooting at the marchers, and that is when Solomon was shot.

Now our investigator does not have anything on the actual hacking, but you say it wasn't the shooting that killed your son, it was he was actually hacked to death with a panga, that's what caused his death.

MRS MADITSI: Chief Masha is responsible. If he wasn't responsible he would have never donated four cows. One mistake he made, he brought these cows without even telling me anything. I only saw the cows and I was told that they were from Chief Masha. I cannot even identify him, I can't even tell you how his face looks. I only saw the cows and I was told they were from Chief Masha.

DR ALLY: Did you get a death certificate which showed how your son actually died?

MRS MADITSI: No I don't have one. The police at Nebo took the bullet as well as the death certificate.

DR ALLY: Thank you Mrs Maditsi, as I say our investigators are looking at this and I'm sure that they will try and follow up some of these things. I don't know if there are any other questions.

MR MANTHATA: We will wait for any report from our investigative unit as to what kind of situation was prevailing at that time. Was there a political conflict, were these organisations supported by the youth only.

MRS MADITSI: I have to say, my son was a UDF member.

MR MANTHATA: Were they fighting with the UDF members at Masha's place.

MRS MADITSI: No they were not fighting. They wanted to stop the fight that was started by the people from Chief Masha's place. They said we have to be united as black people. Now this fight, I don't understand this issue, Mr Letshabane and the people from Masha's place were fighting. Letshabane was the chairperson at the school and seemingly there had been votes and Leshabane was high above in votes and the people at Masha's place didn't want him to be chairing. It's not only Mr Letshabane's house that was burned. Many peoples' homes were burned on that day.

MR MANTHATA: Now what was the youths' involvement if Letshabane was on the school committee? Why were the youths involved to resolving the conflict between Maja's people and the other people? Who was controlling the school in actual fact?

MRS MADITSI: Letshabane stays at stays at Masha's place at Staykraal, he was the chairperson there, and then after voting, he was above the other gentlemen that were with him. No I don't know whether he was a member of the UDF or not.

MR MANTHATA: I thank you I don't have any more questions.

DR ALLY: Mrs Maditsi, as I said, we will be following up all of these questions. And thank you very much for coming. I know it was a long day. We begin tomorrow at nine o'clock and we will try this time to stick to the order and to the time. Thank you.


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