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Human Rights Violation Hearings

Type OPENING STATEMENT

Starting Date 17 February 1997

Location GUGULETU 7

Day 1

ADV NTSEBEZA

Before start I would like to indicate some few ground rules. Firstly about the photo opportunity. It has been the ruling of this Commission and of the - this session that a photo opportunity of the witnesses and everybody else who needs to be photograph or who the photographers need to photograph should take place at the beginning as it is now taking place.

But that when once the evidence begins to be led, the photographers will have to leave. That has been the ruling and that is the ruling that we still want to uphold. I would therefore like to think that we will have every co-operation from the camera persons as far as that goes.

Secondly I would like to indicate that this session is a continuation of a similar session that has gone on before in November of last year. We are dealing with issues that we have dealt with then, and I would assume that the same reaction that took place then is likely to occur. But let me indicate that we would appeal to everyone who is affected by the events and the circumstances about which there will be [indistinct] in this proceedings - to be as tolerant as possible. We are sure as a Commission and as this particular Committee that we have taken every precaution to let everybody understand that we want to come to the truth and expose the truth through the proceedings in a manner that is as transparent but which is as fair as it can possibly be.

I am sure in my own mind that the families or those associated with the families, whoís emotion by what went on the last time to an extend that there was a complaint from the witnesses throwing off shoes and stuff - I am very confident that we will not have a reputation of that sort of reaction.

But having said that, I want to make it very clear that we understand the feelings that go through those who lost their people in the events about which we are going to be taking evidence from witnesses. But I want to emphasise that our training and the attitude of the Commission and this Committee in particular, has led us to accept that there are always two sides to a story and that all the sides should always be given an fair opportunity to be heard.

Now having said all of that I need to say that there is a perception that members of the media project this hearing in a way that suggest to some that the Committee or the Commission has already taken a view point as to the guilty or otherwise of those who testified, especially the witnesses - the police witnesses.

Now if there is such a perception to the extend that the Commission is able to dispel such a view and we are wanting to indicate that speaking for myself, I have not found this to be so, but it has been so - and I would like to direct myself to the mass media that there should be an understanding that this is a hearing and a hearing about which no finding has been made and a hearing in relation to which a finding will be made in due course and that until such time as the Committee expressed themselves as to what they find and that will be done in due course.

The attitude by the media should be that of fair reporting, but I donít want to enter into a debate with the media. I donít want to lay an accusing hand at their door, I simply want to say there have been perceptions that is the way in which they project the proceedings. And I would really like to prevail upon them to be as good as they have always been to us and also to make sure that if such perceptions arise from the manner in which they appear to be reporting the proceedings - that they should have a re-look and satisfy themselves that they project the proceedings as fairly as they possibly can.

We - I have to ask the legal representatives of the witnesses to place themselves on record. I see that we have got new comers to these proceedings which we didnít have the last time and I would therefore like them to place themselves on record.

MR VAN ZYL

Mr Chairman my name is Francois van Zyl I am a member of the local bar, I am acting on behalf of certain of the witnesses. Instructed by Adri Brand of de Klerk and Van Gend and for the witnesses on the Murder and Robbery side, instructed by Mr Frans van Dyk of Van Dyk and Company - I will not be acting for Mr Knipe. Apart from Mr Knipe I will be acting for all the other witnesses.

ADV NTSEBEZA

Thank you advocate Van Zyl and I also thank the other members of the legal team whom you have place on record as your instructors. Before we begin may I recognise as being present in our mists certain persons. We have I am told members of the former anti apartheid movement as it then existed in Germany, I havenít seen her but we have Dorothy Gertskens and Charl Gerskens - if they can stand up so that we can recognise them. We are very pleased to have you - thank you.

I understand also that there are monitors - people who have come to monitor these proceedings as to furnace and related notions of justice. USA [indistinct] monitors - or Madel Monitors, I know whether itís Tala or Tila Hoffman, and [indistinct] Judge if they could stand up. Very welcome, we are pleased to have you.

We also have persons from the USAID - United States Agency for International Development and I will ask to be forgiven if my pronunciation is bad - especially being a person who also takes acceptation to my name being mispronounced. Cindy Ghere - Jackie Steyn - Steve Brent - [indistinct] Weidman - Henry and Lees Reynolds, if they can all stand up - we are very pleased to have you.

We also have persons from the Health and Human Services which is an organ from the USA I believe Peter Aldeman - if you can stand up, welcome sir.

And we have also persons from the Africa Breakthrough Education, Robin Lynn, Peter Griffiths, Faried Versfeld - we are pleased to have you.

We have people from the local university the - the University of the Western Cape, from the Education Police Unit both of them Dr Gail Thomas and Mr Ahmed Amos - if they could stand please so that we can recognise them, we are pleased to have you.

Now without further ado, I believe that the first witness is on my notes Detective Sergeant Tommy Hendricks. I donít know whether that is the order in which contrary to what the media have been saying. Now can we have Detective Sergeant Tommy Hendricks come to the witness stand please so that he can be sworn in.

Now without further ado, I believe that the first witness is on my notes Detective Sergeant Tommy Hendricks. I donít know whether that is the order in which contrary to what the media have been saying. Now can we have Detective Sergeant Tommy Hendricks come to the witness stand please so that he can be sworn in.

 
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