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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 17 July 1996


Day 1


Case Number 00509

CHAIRPERSON: The next witness is coming to speak about Moses Mahgae who was shot in the same incident that we have just dealt with now.


CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, I'm going to ask Mr Tom Manthata to guide you through your testimony, thank you.

MR MANTHATA: Reverend Makgae, can you please tell us everything you know about the death of your son.

MR MAKGAE: Yes I can. Moses was my third child in the family. On the 3rd of March in 1986 he said to me he was going to Johannesburg to find a job. We gave him permission to go, it was on a Monday. He left on that day and when he came back he was not alive any more. The only thing that I got, it was on the 8th of March in 1986, the police came to me at about 11 o'clock in the morning and they said to me, Moses was found among a group of violent youth and he was shot. He is not alive any more and was at the mortuary.

I didn't believe what they were telling me, and I said to them., "I don't believe you because I know that my son is in Johannesburg to look for a job." They showed me his identity document, and I said to them I will only believe when I see his corpse, I would then believe that he is really dead.

They then took me to the police station. On our way there I asked them the real reason for his death. "Now why do you have to take me, because I just want to see him at the mortuary". They said, "No we are taking you to the police station, they will tell you everything". When we arrived there, I was then told that it's true, he is at the mortuary, he'd been shot dead. And I said to them that I want to see him.

We went to Lebowa mortuary, which is the government mortuary. His face was full of blood, it was red. But when I enquired what actually happened, I was told that a bus was stoned at the bus rank, and the police were summoned to that area, and these are the police who said he was among a group of violent youth.

MR MANTHATA: Are you finished Sir?

MR MAKGAE: Moses was killed and we were never given a death certificate. We wanted the post mortem report and we were refused one, and after his death we wanted the lawyers to help us. Then we got help from Mr Ngadimeng, his name is Don. Everything relating to his death was taken to him and in 1987 there was a court case relating to his death. But we didn't get anything further. Everything ended on that day when the court hearing was heard. We're still expecting to hear more. I will stop there.

MR MANTHATA: You said he left home for Johannesburg to get employment. How long was he not working?

MR MAKGAE: It was a month without any employment.

MR MANTHATA: What was he doing before?

MR MAKGAE: He was a merchandiser, at OK Bazaars and Chequers. He left the company and he went to work at Ellisras.

MR MANTHATA: Was Moses interested in any political organisation?

MR MAKGAE: You know, even when he was at school, when he would find out that there was going to be any unrest he would run away, he would run straight home. He was so in love with sports.

MR MANTHATA: At the funeral, were there no youths to show that he belonged to any of their group?

MR MAKGAE: You know it was a tendency around this area for people to come to a funeral.

MR MANTHATA: Tell me Reverend, was it possible for a parent to say no, my child was not involved in the political organisations, because the children behave in a different way when they are in the family and when they are outside they behave differently?

MR MAKGAE: I was on of the people who asked the youth about the things that you are asking me now, and they said to me, no he is our brother, we have to bury him the way we want.

MR MANTHATA: When the youths were stoning busses, what were they actually fighting?

MR MAKGAE: That one I cannot answer. When we went to Mr Ngadimeng there were lawyers who used to fight the political situation, the so-called Lawyers for Human Rights. Ngadimeng was one of them.

MR MANTHATA: Now when you went to Ngadineng, did you know that he was a political attorney?

MR MAKGAE: No I didn't know anything about that. I will just stop it there.

CHAIRPERSON: It's always very difficult I know for a parent to in situations where their children get caught up and the parents are often not aware of what is going on, but I think it's important to know that your son's death took place during the period of the state of emergency. It was also the time of Lucky Kutumela's detention, that during that period under the state of emergency regulations, as well as under an indemnity act which the Lebowa Government itself actually passed, that police were given fairly wide ranging powers, because it was believed that it was a political threat and these wide-ranging powers made it possible for the police to act in certain ways. And it seems as if your son and also Teffo who came earlier were

unfortunately caught up in that political situation against that political backdrop, and one of the things that we as a Commission will be doing, when we write our report, is trying to explain that situation and also deal with these situations where police were given such wide ranging powers and did act in such ways were very often people were innocently shot in these types of events. We thank you very much for coming forward to tell us what happened to your son and all these issues, as I say, will be followed up by the Commission. Thank you very much Reverend.

MR MAKGAE: I also thank you.

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