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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 23 July 1996
Names LES BARNES
Case Number QUEENSTOWN
REVD FINCA: Thank you very much Reverend. Mr Barnes, we welcome you. Your case should have been heard yesterday when we were dealing with the Queenstown bomb blast where some of your fellow sufferers who were affected in that particular blast, came to the Commission to give their witness.
But we were told that you were unable to be here and we then arranged to hear you this morning. We are grateful that you have come and we indeed welcome you and we look forward to hear what you have to add on the testimony of what happened on that very gruesome act which affected a number of people in this town.
ADV POTGIETER: I repeat the welcome of the Chairperson. You drove in from Port Elizabeth especially to attend and to give your testimony, welcome and relax and feel free to tell us your story. As the Chairperson has indicated, we have heard the evidence about the background to the incident, it happened on the 3rd of December 1992 at the Spur Steak Ranch QUEENSTOWN HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE
So I would like you to take us through your story. Perhaps you can start off just by giving us a brief background about yourself, who you are, where you come from, what you are doing, whether you are married and then you can deal with that fateful incident of the 3rd of December, so it is over to you.
L BARNES: Thank you very much and thank you for giving me the opportunity as well. Yes, I am married, I have two children. A daughter and a son. My daughter is 10 years old, my son will be 8 years old.
And on that particular day on the 3rd of December 1992, I was actually on duty on route from Port Elizabeth to Umtata with a fellow colleague of mine, who worked with me and we decided we were going to sleep over in Queenstown on that Thursday night.
L BARNES: On that Thursday evening we only left Port Elizabeth quite late that evening, we arrived in Queenstown something after nine o'clock, we then proceeded to book ourselves into the hotel. It was quite ironic that night, because when we arrived in town, it was the first time that that colleague of mine had ever been to Queenstown.
We then proceeded to the hotel, we were - it was ten o'clock, we were going to go and eat and the restaurant at the hotel was a Chinese restaurant and my colleague decided he wasn't interested in going there, because he didn't like Chinese food and he had seen the Spur on the way in so he decided we would go to the Spur.
We then proceeded to the Spur and arrived there sometime after ten. I would guess between quarter past, twenty past ten. The Spur was very full, it was full of young, school children celebrating the end of the year at school.
The waitress met us at the front door and there were only two tables available. One on the far left and one on the right and we chose to go and sit at the table on the left hand side not knowing that a bomb had been planted under the chair.
We then sat down there, I actually sat on top of the bomb, if I can call it that. We proceeded to eat and it was roughly between ten past, quarter past eleven, we had finished eating and I had gone to the toilet and on my way back, I saw the waitress and I asked her if she would mind coming to take a dessert menu from us.
The ambulances seemed to take a long time to get there but I'm not too sure how long that was. I was then taken to the Queenstown Frontier Hospital and funny enough the Doctor that treated me there, also happens to be my father's Doctor, so I knew him.
My legs, my back, my arms, my face, my whole body - I suffered 33 percent burns from the bomb. I overheard the Doctor in the passage talking to a fellow Doctor at this point, to say that he didn't know if I'd actually make the trip down to East London, but if I made the trip, I'd a good chance of surviving.
In the ambulance with me on the way down to East London was my colleague, Jerome Pieterse and the waitress, Heidi Cunningham. We were the three most injured people, I think there were 21 or whatever people that were injured at that
I went into hospital or into theatre that morning, it was a Friday morning. My colleague went in also on the Friday morning after I did. We were all three in intensive care in the East London private hospital.
My whole body was basically bomb bandaged. My arms were suspended in the air by using pillow cases because of the extensive burns. The next day my colleague went into theatre again and I was going in on the Sunday morning, when the Doctor, Specialist told me that my colleague actually passed away, that was the Sunday morning.
I couldn't ride from the extensive burns, specifically on my left hand because I am left handed, so it was like starting all over again teaching yourself to walk, coping with the trauma. My family suffered quite a lot, specifically my little son.
Fortunately I do have a medical aid, but the costs of the medicine and the Doctors afterwards, is all for my account and that was, it is heavy and today I still need surgery, reconstruction to my right leg.
L BARNES: Thank you. Basically all I'd sort of want to know is the people that planted the bomb, will they be coming forward? Will they be testifying? And what is really going to happen to get their side of the story and is anything being done about it?
We always attempt to be strong and for you to come and share your story and to share your emotions with us, with the people who are in this hall, with the whole of South Africa, and to show your emotions the way you have shown us, has touched us very deeply.
And indeed the question that you have raised to us, I'm sure has stuck in our minds and we are definitely going to want to raise when we meet with the political organisations which have claimed responsibility for that event.