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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type OPENING STATEMENT AND INTRODUCTIONS
Starting Date 27 November 1996
Location GUGULETU 7 POLLSMOOR
I want to welcome you all to this, the second day of the hearing in the Western Cape and Northern Cape region of the Truth and reconciliation commission. We would like to bid you all a hearty welcome to this sitting of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the Western Cape and Northern Cape region of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In this hearing we do not make a finding. We will be listening to evidence and testimony and we will then, later on be making the finding. It is not a court of law, but we want to indicate that, first of all, we hope that out of solidarity and respect for those who have come to testify about their pain and suffering, we would be able to conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner.
Secondly, we want to point out that if someone deliberately misleads the Commission, then they will be guilty of an offense. If someone comes and deliberately deceives the commission, then you truly will be in trouble worst than in a court of law.
Apart of the process of healing in our land we hear the stories of what took place and the chief aim is reconciliation - ons soek na die waarheid. We are searching for the truth - in what we want is actually healing and reconciliation in our land and we appreciate the fact that so many people are praying for this Commission and I would like to read a letter to you all which were received from the C17 region in Stellenbosch, in Welgelegen, which was addressed to me.
At the time of our regionís meeting this evening, there was a question of reconciliation and the work of your meeting, which is under discussion, especially the outstanding responsibility which you as the Chairperson of the TRC and as a fellow Christian has to lead the TRC on the road to Truth Reconciliation and healing.
Because you are our brother in Christ, we bring you before God in all humility and we pray that in your journey through all the cruelty and the darkness of the past, that Godís reconciling love will help you and strengthen you and others.
Ons wil net graag sÍ dat ons baie dankbaar is en ons waardeer baie hierdie soort gebaar. And we are grateful for this kind gesture. The first witness, but before I do that, who is explaining about - you do that Denzil please thank you.
Denzil Potgieter who is - yes I didnít - oh yes - no-no I have to do this - I have got to introduce the panel. On my extreme right is Glenda Wildschut who is a Commissioner and a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and she is based in this region.
Not next to her, because next to her - he is not there yet, he will be. But Mary Burton, who is a Commissioner and a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and she is also based in this region - Denzil.
Chairperson, just before I announce the list of witnesses - perhaps just to indicate that we are starting today to hear testimony in what has become known as the Guguletu 7 event. We will hear testimony today and tomorrow in respect of this matter.
Itís a well known incident in this part of the country where on the 3rd of March in 1986, seven young persons were shot and killed by the police in Guguletu. Persuan??? to that incident, there were certain legal proceedings where there was an investigation into what in fact took place. There were two inquests that were held and in-between the two inquest there was a criminal trial, where one of the witnesses who will be testifying today was charged under the old police act for allegedly printing untrue matters about the police.
There were, in these legal proceedings, two conflicting versions of what in fact took place during this incident. There was a police version and there was a version by individuals who saw certain incidents happening. Now, today we will hear testimony from 5 of the 7 families of those who were killed in the incident. Some of them where heard at the first Peninsula hearings and some of them have not been heard before.
After they have testified, we will hear testimony from people who have either testified previously in the legal proceedings. Either in the inquest proceedings or in the criminal trial. And who have seen various incidents happening during this shooting incident.
Pat Smith, who was also an eye-witness, who accompanied Ronald Benting on that particular day. Who will not be testifying, but a statement which was used in the legal proceedings will be read into the record.