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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/OO625
Victim LIONEL PAULSEN
Testimony LOUISA PAULSEN, LEONARD PAULSEN
Nature SHOT AND KILLED BY POLICE
Ms Paulsen good morning I just want to ask the briefer to switch the microphone on. Thank you verby much. Are you the only person going to give evidence. Your husband also wants to give evidence Mr Paulsen. Well then fine I would ask both of you to take the oath. Then we will listen to your evidence and if you husband wants to ask anything we will give him the opportunity to do so. I am first going to ask you to take the oath. Do you have any objections to taking this oath.
What happened on the 29th of August in Athlone as all the leaders were taken to jail. But on the 29th everybody came back to Mitchell's Plain. Can I just interrupt please. Could I ask the briefer just to put the microphone a bit nearer to you. Perhaps they should just unfasten the tape. Are you comfortable. I am sorry that you had to interrupt you.
On the 29th of Augusts all this took place in Mitchellís Plain. We are going to march in Mitchell's Plain on the 29th because the march in Ahtlone had failed. On the 29th of August the pupils who went to school were shot in the school yard. My son, Lionel was one of the people who past out on the school grounds. They took him to hospital and then they brought him back home.
Eisleben and Spine Road were the streets where all these took place. Nobody could walk down those roads, only the police were allowed. I do not live far from Eisleben Road. My son came home and like children were - are was inquisitive. Then when he went there he was shot and killed. I was at work and they called me and they told me that my son had been shot.
My husband and I ran home. His brother was just one year older. His brother Karel, Karel couldnít utter one single word. When he saw me he said Mommy Mommy and he charged out of the house. We tried to go to the police station but it was terrible. You couldnít see anything. You could not walk, there was a crowd of people of students. There were Casspirs but eventually we reached the police station.
Having arrived there they chased us away like dogs and said go and find your son's body in the morgue. My husband tried to negotiate with them, but they wanted to arrest him. But then some friend who were with us had to calm him down.
The next day we returned again and then they took us to the Commissioner of Police. He was a white man on the second floor and he said please come again on Monday. We don't have time for you now. That was dark days, we didnít not know what to do, we were scared. We were not allowed to talk to friends. We could not meet our friends at the various houses because if they heard that our son had been killed or were shot it was, we were branded. The people were frightened even to talk to us and even today in that community there are still some people who are scared to talk to us. There are other people or other students who also still have some bird shot in their bodies.
These two boys they were 13 years old Lionel and Quentin were 13 years olds and they both died. There were thousands of people but why did the police shoot the children? ... end of Tape One, side A ... that day the 29th of August, I still remember that. I had two sons Lionel 12 years and Karel 13 years. That day I lost two sons. Karel did not study any further. He could not make any progress in school at all. He went to school, came back in the afternoons, threw down his rug sack.
They tried to give him psychiatric treatment but even today he is still suffering. He never talks about his brother. You can't even ask him the same thing twice. We also don't discuss this at home. We just keep quiet about his death. This was a big struggle even up till today. Friends and colleagues at work, my husband and my family assisted me and assisted me up till today but it is still very, very hard for me to cope with this.
No fortunately, when they called him his brother was still living. He sat with him while he was dying and the principal and the teachers at the school tried to take to take him to the hospital. Yes it happened early that morning while he was still at school and then the Casspirs came into the school grounds and then they shot into the school grounds. They shot tear gas then he passed out because of that. He was the only child who had passed out because of this tear gas. And then they took him to the Day Clinic and then the teachers sent all the children home and they brought Lionel home personally.
All that I heard is that the UDF arranged for us to get a lawyer Mr Moosa from Athlone. Twice he told us to come to Wynberg, there was just a small little room. He called us there and said this case was postponed the first time. The second time Mr Moosa called us again and he said Ms Paulsen so many children can give evidence, but they donít want to because they afraid of going to jail and I canít continue with this case. Because this case is against ten policeman and I asked Mr Moosa why then was my son killed, what had he done?
He showed me a photograph where he had been shot, he was shot in his face and in his chest. He was shot with rubber bullets, but it penetrated his chest and that is what caused his death. Or then that I heard or the only news I got was from the lawyer, there was never a court action. We never heard who were the guilty people - who had shot my son.
Never ever did a policeman approach us to tell us this is what had happened. So up till today, the family does not know what had happened. The only thing we know is that the police had shot them, why and how we do not know.
I just want to ask you a few things about Karel. You feel that Karel is not healthy or is not well after this incident, have you ever approached a doctor or a psychiatrist apart from the psychiatrist he saw at school.
Never ever. Once at school the principal told me that they did call a psychiatrist because he does not do well at school. But the psychiatrist couldnít find anything wrong with him. Karel does not talk, he cannot keep a job and today if he decides he is not going to leave his bedroom, he does not leave his bedroom. He decides he is not going to speak to anybody, he does not speak to anybody. And then he also - he had an accident with his eye later on.
On that specific day I was working. I kissed my two sons goodbye when I went to work that morning, because I loved them dearly. I worked till two oíclock that afternoon at the South African Transport Services. I met my wife at the Mutual station because our car was in the garage in Elsies River. We had to go to the garage to see whether the car was ready. We came home by train and said we should rather go to Maitland station, because that would be quicker to Mitchellís Plain.
When we came down Forester Way a friend of mine who just stays behind us, and he said careful they coming, and I said donít make jokes about this and I said whatís wrong. And he told me your son had been killed and I said is it serious and he said no, he had been killed.
My wife ran away, she ran home. And then I ran after her, she threw her handbag away and I followed her home. Having arrived there, my mother in law, she is blind, she is deceased now, and I asked her what had had happened. And after I had asked then he ran away and he ran into the tear gas again. And afterwards I had to go and fetch him. I brought him back, having arrived home, and they said I could phone my mother in Calitzdorp, but I was unable to speak.
Then we went home and we were just sitting there. Later on I said the police havenít even come to tell us the child had been shot, what had happened to him and I said we should go to the police station. When I came there, a Coloured policeman put a gun to my stomach and I said you just strong when you have a gun in your hand, but the one who had shot my child, will die.
Then I went into the police station. I hit on the counter and asked who had shot my child. They didnít answer, they were just looking at me. And then I asked again where is my child and they said go and find him at the mortuary. We went home again and then the next day we went - returned to the police station and then the commanding officer did not instruct the Mitchellís Plain police to shoot, it was the police from Cape Town. And then they said it was police from Transvaal who were shooting.
And then we went to the mortuary and found his body there. For three months I had this pain in my chest to tell the honest truth, I loved that child dearly. Lionel was only 12 years old, you could sent him to the Town Center to pay insurance or to do anything. We could sent him to the rent office to pay electricity, he could work with a lot of money and he came back and he would give us the receipts. And then he said Mommy I was hungry, so I bought a packet of chips. So I said that was your payment for that.
All that I heard when I came home, the people told me that the Casspir came down Eisleben Road. And down Westpoort Avenue and it turned left at the robots, and then somebody jumped out, ran up and then from the house they shot over the vibracrete wall into the school grounds.
From what I heard Matthewís son which goes to school at Eros, they were waiting for him to come, they were waiting to come - for him to come with the Kombi and then the police shot over the vibracrete walls into the school grounds.
According to what the people said, he first fell in the little passage and then they carried him to the stoep of this house. The police, there were two policeman standing there, and another person, Quentin died immediately but Lionel still lived for about half an hour. Another person offered to take Lionel to hospital to see whether they couldnít save him, but the police said why do you want to make all this effort - theyíve already died.
Our investigative team researched this whole incident to see what we could determine or find out about this incident. It seems that an inquest was held and there are police records which our Investigative team found and it seems as if the police who were involved, that was the Riot Squad. It is not clear from the police records from where they came.
You also said you heard various stories from where they had come. But they were part of the Riot Squad. According to them there was a blockade, there were barricades in Eisleben Road, right across the little passage where he was killed and then some of these police hid behind a wall in the vicinity of where the barricades were.
And it seems that it was those police who were hiding behind the wall who shot Lionel and Quentin. From the records it appears that the police alleged that after they had hid behind the walls - after they had shot, they moved away and then the people said two - they told the police that two little boys have been injured and then only did they realize that two young boys had been shot.
It seems as if your son and Quentin were inquisitive and were just trying to see what was happening in the road near the barricade. And it seems as if they were shot while they were just watching what was going on. There is no indication whatsoever that they were involved in anything illegal, it seems as if they were just onlookers - that they were just inquisitive and were shot in the process.
According to the Magistrate who conducted the inquest a Mr Van Greunen according to our records - nobody could be held accountable for this incident and it seems as if the police testified before him that in the first place they admitted to having shot the two sons, they admitted that they shot and killed these two boys, but they alleged that their lives were in danger. And that they acted in self defence.
It was brought to our attention later on when we received certain correspondence, certain correspondence by police in Mitchellís Plain that it seems that the station commander in Mitchellís Plain had to write a report and he wrote a letter on the 24th of December in 1985 in which he said that your son Lionel Paulsen had been shot and killed by a Constable CJ Kapp. And in which he said that the other boy, Quentin was shot by Constable WKP Puchert.
So that is the official explanation put to the Court regarding this shooting incident. And this is how far our own investigation has progressed. We are in the process of trying to find these two policeman who admitted to having shot these two sons - these two boys, to get hold of them. We will keep you informed of what will happen further.
I just wanted to bring this under your attention so that you can know what we are doing about this matter. But in any case thank you very much for having come here today. There is very little we can do at this stage and we do not have words to make you feel any better. It must have been a terrible blow for parents to loose a son at such a tender age. And it makes it even worse as if it seems that this - that your son had lost his life without any reason. He was just inquisitive and he was just standing there.
But at least it is important that we should find out exactly what happened during this incident, and perhaps it might make you feel better in general. But itís difficult to give you any specific assistance, but in general itís one of many stories, of the stories we have heard and the things which - of the things which had happened where people and in your case, your family had to suffer and make sacrifices to get out of those dark days.
But by investigating this matter and finding out - trying to find out what had happened. We recognize the contribution your pain had made to bring us to where we are today. Thank you very much for having come and we will keep you informed.
We as a Commission is not bound to the findings of other organizations - we just start afresh with our investigations and therefore we are justified in asking for explanations and this is one of the questions they have to answer. We will provide the answers in the end.