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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION HEARINGS
Starting Date 26 November 1996
Location GUGULETU 7 POLLSMOOR
Case Number CT/00112
Victim MBUYISELI B MTUZE
Testimony FIKISWA OLGA MTUZE
Nature SHOT AND KILLED
Welcome to you as well. Thank you for accompanying your sister and supporting her, because this is obviously not an easy process to testify - to have to recall, which is in most instances very-very difficult things to recall, but thank you for coming with.
Ms Mtuze, I am going to ask you, because you are going to be giving the testimony, I am going to ask you to stand and to take the oath. Just the one, I assume it will only be the one - will both sisters talk?
I wonder if we could ask the briefer just to bring your microphone a little bit closer to you right. You are going to be telling us today about the shooting of your son, Botamani Mtuze. And maybe you can start by telling us your understanding of what had happened in August, 1985.
Botamani was my son. On that particular day he was not at home, he was with my sister-in-law. The day of the march to Pollsmoor, because there was the chaos, I phoned Langa telling my son not to come to Nyanga from Langa, because it is too chaotic and that there are Casspirs everywhere.
Unfortunately he had already left. He took a train and he used to arrive at Guguletu station. He got onto the train, coming to me. Nobody informed us where he was, but nobody answered the phone. I was worried, I didnít know where he had gone to. We slept that night, the next morning I went to work. There was no news.
My sister phoned me at work. Telling me that my son had not come home. I then left my work and tried to search for him. For three days we searched for him. Police station, hospitals - even at his friendís places. We were just trying to find out if somebody had at least seen him. Somebody then said he saw him at the station, saying he is going home, we carried on searching.
On the 7th day, the following week, my sister said I should go to work. She would take over. My children had no father, I had to support them. I went back to work. My sister, then told me, that ANC comrades were taking a list of children that had been lost. My sister encouraged me to go back to work the next day as well. She said that she would go with the comrades to the mortuary. They did not find the body.
My sister, then went searching with the comrades, to the mortuary. My manager called me at work - saying my sister was there to tell me that they had seen my son. I did not expect my son to be dead. I was just glad that they had found my son. I put on my clothes and then I left, because they said they had found my son dead at the mortuary. This is still on the 7th day. We went home.
Then we tried to prepare for the funeral. My family was supporting me the whole time. After that, as I was broken in heart and spirit, the days went by after the funeral. After the funeral, each time I would see my sonís friends or children his age, I would just break. My heart would break, because I would think my son would be here as well, if he had not been shot.
My sister would try to encourage me, asking me not to blame the Lord, because his will had been done. The years went by, on the fourth year, if I am not mistaken, I was summoned to Wynberg. I had no clue what it was about. I then, at the bottom of the letter saw my sonís name.
We went to Wynberg after all those years. My sister was at work so I went with my eldest son. We just saw boers everywhere, we donít know who killed my son, amongst them. When we got into the court room, this man was called up and I was called up as well. I went on the stand.
The first thing that happened there - they asked me if I wanted to know about my son. And I said - yes. What hurt me the most, was that they showed me his pictures where he had been already shot. I asked where he had been shot. They said he was shot at 112. This was away from the station, to the house. I asked what he had done?
Then somebody said - that these boers in the Casspir were trying to protect themselves, because they were not safe. People were throwing stones. I asked if there was no other way they could have protected themselves, then shooting my son in the head. There should have been a way to protect themselves - rather than killing.
When Botamani was lost, after we had got a phone call that he hadnít gotten home the previous night and we started searching. At the mortuary they even showed us corpses that were unknown, but he was not there. We loosing hope is the comrades, UDF comrades that helped us. They told us to go to the mortuary - my sister was not there. They were talking to me, I said I would go, because I want to find the child. I told them that we had already gone to the mortuary and had not find anything.
The next day they came to fetch me. The first corpse that we saw was Botamaniís. I could not recognize him, because he was - he had been shot in the head and his skull was broken. His skull was torn and pushed towards the back. I was absolutely shocked.
When I got into the office, they tried to ask me his - for his details, I could not even think properly. I could not even remember his name. I was too much in shock. But the comrades helped me. Trying to explain to this man at the mortuary that they should be patient with me. My mind was not functioning well. We took quite a while, but I gave them all the information that they needed.
What I wanted to know, is what exactly had happened to him. I thought that he had been run over by a car or a bus. Then they told me that my nephew had been shot at NY12 in Guguletu. We then left, I went to fetch my sister from work. She fainted, she had to be taken to doctors.
The most painful time was when - in the interim before the funeral, the whole time there were police, pointing guns at our house. Especially on the Saturday we had a night ritual. But the comrades were wise, because the night ritual was not at our house, but elsewhere. The police - during the day, during the night, were walking around our house. We are going through very difficult times. We had lost a child and the police were still oppressing us.
Even on the day - when we buried him, the UDF helped us. They made all the funeral arrangements. We had a good, big funeral. We were still under surveillance. Even when we went to the graveyard, there were Casspirs everywhere. They said only the family should go into the graveyard. But the comrades said they are already dead. They died already - they are going to go in.
It was painful, but he was buried. What I want to say, is that the person who killed Botamani must go on trial. He must say exactly why he did what he did. Because even when the comrades came to me, I told them that Botamani was still a child and was not politically orientated. He never went to meetings, he was just a child. He just made us happy at home. He filled us with happiness, he knew nothing about the struggle.
Thank you very much. We - we are very moved by what you have just said, because what for us is a remarkable thing is, that many of the people who lost their lives at the time of this uprising and the time of the march were young people like Botamani. You have heard testimony today of the children who were very young and had absolutely nothing to do with the struggle or with any uprisings. Who were just being children. Being curious children. Being children playing and they were targeted by the police.
It remains still for us to understand why children could be such a threat to Security Forces who had all the might at their disposal. It puzzled us as well and I am sure that it must puzzle you as a family - why your son and your nephew was shot in the way that he was and that he had to loose his life in such a tragic way.
The lost to the country is great, because we know that many of the young people - were our future, our countryís future, who could contribute to the building of our nation and contributing towards our nation - and these children were mowed down in the prime of their life.
It is a great loss to our nation when the youth are targeted in the way they were during those days. We really do thank you for coming, but before I close - I would like to hand over to the Chairperson in case any of my other colleagues would like to ask you more questions.
Thank you chair. I donít have a question - just an observation and that is - that one of my lasting memories of the hearings weíve had this year at the Truth Commission will be a woman like you, mothers, wives, sisters, who have been forced into a terrible journey from police station to hospital, to mortuary and back again in a desperate search for loved ones.
And I do hope - I know there are many lessons we have to learn from people like you, and I do hope that one of them is respect for each other and the courtesy to inform people and family when their relatives are hurt or injured
Thank you very much - Ms Mtuze and Ms Boy, than you for having come and thank you for having shared your experience and your - what has happened to Botamani with us, it serves many purposes and we appreciate the fact that you are prepared to re-open which this loss which is obviously very hard for you. Youíve lost a child youíve said that brought a lot of happiness in your family and that was really innocent and landed up in this situation.
But thank you for having come. We in fact hope that through the testimonies that we have heard relating to this particular incident, this march, that it reflects a bit of the history of this particular part of the country, the Western Cape. Because there is a danger of distorting the contribution that people have made in this part of the country to what we have achieved up to today.
There is a danger that recent developments on the political sphere can distort what the Western Cape really stands for and the contribution that the Western Cape has made across cultural lines, across social lines, across religious lines. And we trust that the evidence that weíve heard has demonstrated the unique and peculiar Western Cape history where end of Tape 2, Side B Ö and people have sacrificed across the border in this part of the country like in the rest of the country, but particularly here, because itís important and that point should be made here.
This incident which - as weíve heard, was really intended to be a peaceful march - a form of public protest, which is accepted as a normal part of social life - has turned out to be - a catastrophe for this part of the country - for the Western Cape.
We have been given some of the statistics relating to this particular incident. It appears what has started off as a peaceful, symbolic march, turned into a massacre by the afternoon following the march, thatís the 29th. The afternoon of the 29th of August 1985. We are told that at least 12 people were killed, and 100ís of people were arrested.
We are told that by the Friday, the 30th of August, thatís 2 days after the intended march, the death toll had arisen to 28 people, with approximately 300 people injured. Half of them requiring hospitalization. And weíve heard some of the testimonies today. People have spent months in hospital - subsequent to the injuries that theyíve sustained.
We were told that parts of the City were under siege - Guguletu - places like Guguletu. Manenberg, Mitchellís Plain, were sealed off by the Security Forces and the situation just escalated. By Friday, the 6th of September, there were 464 schools and colleges closed until further notice indefinitely.
So, what started off as a peaceful incident has given rise to all of the consequences that weíve heard and itís important for us to remember that part of our history and remember what people came through and what people experienced.
But in any event - you the last witnesses. It doesnít mean that, not the same importance is attached to your testimony or to your case. Your case is as important as the first matter that weíve heard today and it has been treated like that. So thank you very much for coming and thank you for sharing your story with us.
I would also like to thank the members of the public and members of your families, families of the victims, supporters who have come to share the testimony. It is very important that the process is a public one and that as many people as possible participate - either by being physically present or by being informed through the media about the testimonies that we hear.