CHAIRPERSON: Can Sasa John Lesiba please come forward.
SASA JOHN LESIBA: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Before we proceed I'm going to ask the people who talk to us, please not to be frightened. If you do not understand the question which we are asking you, please ask and we'll repeat. If there is something that frightens you here in front, please tell us so. We will continue.
PROF MEIRING: You were in an incident many years ago, 16 years ago in 1980 at the township of Lekureng, Lekureng village and you've given us your testimony of what happened that day to your brother John and to you. I would like to ask you to tell us in your own words the story of what happened that day. I'm not going to interrupt you, please tell the story to us and then afterwards we will ask a few questions just to clarify a few issues.
MR SASA: My brother and I were running away, from the chief who is called Ben Mathlala who was coming to kill us. My brother stood and was hacked to death by an axe. That's what I saw and they burned our house, they took our cattle, goats and donkeys.
PROF MEIRING: I want to ask you, Mr Sasa, why did they do that, why did they come after you and your brother? Why did they want to kill you?
MR SASA: They were sent by Ben Mathlala.
PROF MEIRING: Political differences or was there another reason why they wanted to kill you?
MR SASA: They wanted to kill us because they were in a council.
PROF MEIRING: Did they want to kill you because you belonged to the ANC? Because you were a supporter of the ANC?
MR SASA: Yes.
PROF MEIRING: I would like to ask whether you were a card-carrying member of the ANC or just seen as a supporter of the ANC?
MR SASA: We were card-carrying members of the ANC.
PROF MEIRING: According to what was written down, you say that many people suffered that day, that it was an attack on the whole village and many women and men also suffered that day. Can you tell us about that?
MR SASA: They were attacked.
PROF MEIRING: It was said that people were killed that day?
MR SASA: He was the only one who was killed.
PROF MEIRING: You said that it was Ben, the chief's people who were sent. Are you sure about that, how do you know it was those people?
MR SASA: Yes, I know because it was his column together with us. He said he was going to rule us, all of us and we refused.
PROF MEIRING: That day when the attack came, were you busy with a meeting or were you just as busy with everyday things at the village when the attack came?
MR SASA: They followed us and our families.
PROF MEIRING: Were you holding a meeting on that day when the attack came?
MR SASA: No no. We were with our families.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you for the answers, there's one thing I would like to ask you still and that is about the family of your brother John who was killed. You say that his wife was not injured that day. His wife was called Simole Sasa, and the two children, but I'd like to know what happened to them afterwards, do they still live, what are their circumstances at this moment?
MR SASA: They were fighting for their donkeys, now they are staying at Mahwelereng in Potgietersrus.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much, and my last question to you is this, you said that your brother was shot at the back of his head and he was put into a vehicle and then afterwards they just said that he died and they brought his body back to his house. Did they take him to hospital to see whether he could be treated or did he die in the car?
MR SASA: He died inside the car and then they took him in the evening.
PROF MEIRING: Those are all the questions I have.
MR MALAN: Mr Sasa I just want to make sure, your brother wasn't shot, he was hacked in the back of his head by something like an axe, I think you said in your statement. Is that correct?
MR SASA: Yes, that's true.
MR MALAN: Simole, that's your wife, that's not Piet's wife?
MR SASA: Simole is my wife. She's still alive.
MR MALAN: You said in response to a question by Professor Meiring that Chief Ben Mahtlala, he said he was going to rule over all of you but you refused, and that was the reason why you were attacked?
MR SASA: Yes.
MR MALAN: You're saying that you were resisting his chieftainship?
MR SASA: Yes we resisted. We didn't want him to rule us.
MR MALAN: Who did you want to rule you at the time?
MR SASA: We wanted to be ruled by the care lady.
MR MALAN: Is that someone else's name?
MR MALAN: Yes the wife of the chief.
MR MALAN: The wife of the chief.
MR SASA: Yes.
MR MALAN: Was the community divided int two groups, sone that wanted to stay with Chief Ben Mathlala and some who wanted his wife to rule, is that what you're saying?
MR SASA: Yes.
MR MALAN: Was that resolved at some stage?
MR SASA: Yes it was resolved.
MR MALAN: Did Dikeleli become the new chief then or did Chief Ben Mathlala stay on, who became chief after Ben?
MR SASA: No one.
MR MALAN: Is Chief Ben Mathlala, is he still alive, is he still the chief? You must excuse us because we're coming from other areas, we don't know the area here so we're asking you to help us, to explain to us on things we do not know of, we just want to find out and in that way, please if you can help us, we'll appreciate it. Is Chief Ben Mathlala still alive?
MR SASA: Yes he's still alive.
MR MALAN: Is he still the chief?
MR SASA: No he's not, he's away now.
MR MALAN: So there's no chief in the village at the moment? MR SASA: Yes.
MR MALAN: Isn't there any chief.
MR SASA: They put a woman who came from Lebowagomo.
MR MALAN: You were a member, in response to a question by Professor Meiring, a card-carrying member of the ANC, is that correct, because the ANC were still banned in 1980, it didn't function openly and we're certainly not aware of the fact that they issued membership cards at that stage. Were you just supportive of them or were you really in some kind of structure?
MR SASA: No we didn't have cards.
MR MALAN: You supported in your allegiance the ANC in politics. Is that what you were telling us?
MR SASA: Yes we were supporters.
MR MALAN: I can hear you correctly and I don't want to put words into your mouth. The dispute in the village was between two groups in the community, those that supported Ben and those that wanted Dikelele's wife to rule. It wasn't a dispute between politics from the ANC and the chief?
MR SASA: There were the people who were coming from the ANC.
MR MALAN: I think Dr Ally may have some follow-up.
DR ALLY: Just to clarify. Dikelele was not the wife of Benjamin Mathlala, she was the wife of another chief who had died? Is that true.
MR SASA: Yes, of his brother, Ben's brother.
DR ALLY: He died, you wanted the wife to take over, but instead Ben became chief? Is that what happened?
MR SASA: Yes we wanted Dikelele, not Ben.
DR ALLY: How did Ben become chief in that village? Was he elected or was he made chief by somebody, what was the process?
MR SASA: In our village he put himself on the throne and we were resisting.
DR ALLY: How was he able to put himself in that position, who supported him which made it possible for him to be chief?
MR SASA: The one who put him on the throne, we don't know.
DR ALLY: In your statement you say that these trucks which came with the supporters of Benjamin, you say you recognised the truck as belonging to Benjamin Mathlala, now how did you know, how did you know that truck belonged to Benjamin?
MR SASA: We knew them because the same people as us were at home.
DR ALLY: Was Benjamin part of the homeland government, was he part of Petudi's government at any point, do you know?
MR SASA: No, I don't know. The Bantustan government was his younger brother.
DR ALLY: What role do you think that the Truth Commission can play in all of this? You have come forward to tell us your story, what was the reason, why did you come to the Truth Commission? What are you hoping we can do?
MR SASA: The Commission must help us with our property. We are crying for property.
MR MANTHATA: My question is, you say Ben brought lorries, who was assisting him with bringing those lorries? Did the community buy those lorries? Can I repeat that? I'm saying Ben brought the lorries, where did these lorries come from?
MR SASA: From Mathlala, he was taking people from Mathlala and come to our places to burn our houses. They belonged to Mathlala, they belonged to Ben Mathlala.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you. I don't know whether there is anything that you want to say now. Are you finished? So we thank you for coming here, and we hope that we are going to work out our way. We'll try to make sure that we do anything to help you. We thank you for having come here.