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Human Rights Violation Hearings

Type HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Starting Date 23 July 1996

Location QUEENSTOWN

Day 2

Names EUNICE BONISWA OLIPHANT

Case Number QUEENSTOWN

EUNICE BONISWA OLIPHANT: (sworn states)

REVD XUNDU: Sir, back to you.

REVD FINCA: Welcome here Eunice Oliphant, we are going to hand you over to Tiny Maya and she will lead you in your evidence.

MS MAYA: Thank you. Thank you Mr Chairman. Ms Oliphant, I would like to greet you. In the statement before us, we see that you will testify in connection with the death of your husband, Mr Welile Alfred in 1992.

In the statement there is something that says he was a member of an organisation and he was accused of being a member of the ADM at that time and it was said that the ADM had a part in his killing.

Tell us a bit about your husband so that we can know why he was accused of killing a member of the ADM.

EB OLIPHANT: What is it that you want to know? Do you want to know who he was, what he was? He was a member of the ANC.

MS MAYA: Tell us everything about him. About his membership in the ANC, what he did as a person and in the community as well.

EB OLIPHANT: The main cause of the ADM being after him was that because while we were staying there, the people in town did not want to be controlled by Headmen, so they asked the Magistrate to please authorise that they should not be under QUEENSTOWN HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE

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Headmen.

The Magistrate said that while he was going to forward the request to Bisho, that somebody should represent these people in the interim, while this request was being handled.

My husband was appointed as the representative of the people on the part of the ANC. There was then this conflict between the ANC and the ADM and people did not agree, the Headmen did not agree because there was someone from the ANC who was representing the ANC people.

MS MAYA: Just to take you a bit back, please explain to us what the ADM was all about. What kind of organisation was it, who did it consist of and tell us more about the ADM.

EB OLIPHANT: The ADM was an organisation of people under the leadership of Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, the African Democratic Movement.

After all this, after my husband was appointed on the ANC's part, there were these Headmen who were part of the ADM. They never used to conduct meetings and tell people that if you've got complains, bring it to us, they used to, when they had a meeting, it became apparent that Sponda did not like this, and he would go and report it to the police and they would come and arrest him.

He is the person that used to the complaints of the people and whenever there was a meeting, he would be arrested.

On a particular day the children when to Mr Xabendlini's house and burnt it and there was just friction there. I wasn't present, I was at work.

Thereafter the people of that house had to be admitted to the hospital. The man of the house there was assaulted and when he got to the hospital, he passed away, Mr Richard

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Xabendlini.

The children who were responsible were arrested because the people at the hospital gave a statement to the effect that the children were responsible for this deed.

Fortunately I was going to be off the following day and I went home. The day I got home, the morning of the following day, the children were going to go to school, but the police had stopped outside in a Kombi and they had come to arrest my husband.

MS MAYA: Where were these policemen from?

EB OLIPHANT: I am not sure whether they were the Tendergate policemen or the Wittlesea policemen. There is a police station there by us in Rocklands and there were also policemen from Wittlesea, so I cannot differentiate which police these were.

My question when they arrested him was, because when the statement was being given at the hospital, I was present by the people who were assaulted. My question was why they were arresting him and they said we are not going in accordance with the statement, we are going according to this list and they took out a list which they got at Xabendlini's.

MS MAYA: This list according to your knowledge, what did it have?

EB OLIPHANT: It contained names of people who was supposed to be arrested.

MS MAYA: Why were they going to be arrested?

EB OLIPHANT: They were the ones that killed and they said my husband was the one that finished off Mr Xabendlini. They said the reason that Mr Xabendlini is no longer with us, is you.

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So they took him and took him away. After they had left, there were other men there because there were no children, only men were arrested and locked up and the Kombi came back to come and fetch all the youth in the village and they were locked up.

But in the afternoon of that day they were brought back and my husband also came back that day. They were told to come back and they would be informed as to when the trial would be conducted.

I once again had to go back to work, so I don't know what happened after that, but there were rumours that the ADM had said, sworn revenge and when Mr Xabendlini was being buried, Mr Oliphant's body would be at the mortuary and that is exactly what happened.

MS MAYA: I would like us to come to the 27th of August 1992 now. What happened on this day there?

EB OLIPHANT: On this day of the 27th in 1992, I was not there, I was not at home, I was at work. I had left on the 26th to go to work, because I was going to be on duty on the 27th.

According to what I heard from neighbours when they told me, they said that they were afraid to come out because most of the people around me were old people and widows and they said that there was a shooting incident and when I got home, I saw that there were bullet holes in the window.

INTERPRETER: The interpretation service will continue once the witness has regained her composure. Fortunately no one was sleeping in the room into which they shot because since these rumours, we had heard these rumours, we had to move our things, because they said that they were going to burn our things, so I had asked a neighbour and taken all my

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furniture in the house and kept it there. I did this on the day that I was off and he kept it in his garage, so we just left a few things at home and since, when they shot my husband was not in our bedroom, the one they know us to sleep in.

But he was sleeping in the children's bedroom which is towards the back.

MS MAYA: Was there someone that saw who was shooting by any chance?

EB OLIPHANT: I cannot lie and say that there was, but the neighbours heard the shots. My children were not at home, because ever since this thing started, my husband did not want our children to sleep at home, he wanted to be at home alone.

And even when I was off, he wanted me to go and sleep at my parental home, but I refused to I wanted to be there to see what was going to happen.

MS MAYA: What happened after the shooting?

EB OLIPHANT: They shot and then he must have stayed there, but I think the reason he came out must have been because they set fire to the place.

They threw petrol there, because even the mat in the room was smelling of petrol and the front portion burnt. The house was black to show that there was a lot of smoke.

I am sure that he ran towards the back door, because his corpse was found at the back and that is where is was found.

He was found outside at the back and that was in the morning, because nobody had come during the night to come and look at what damage had been done. He was found the morning.

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MS MAYA: And what was seen as the cause of his death?

EB OLIPHANT: A bullet wound. There was no sign of him having been assaulted, because even when he was taken to the Doctor thereafter.

MS MAYA: Was anyone arrested after your husband's death?

EB OLIPHANT: Yes, there were people that were arrested after my husband's death, but they were never held in custody because the day that they were arrested, there were members of the ADM who phoned Gqozo and Gqozo sent a message that these people must be released immediately.

And there was stories that there was a helicopter circling the area and that these people must continue with their work.

MS MAYA: So all in all, these people who were arrested, were released without being charged at all?

EB OLIPHANT: They were released but the ANC did not allow, want to allow this, the ANC tried by all means that these people should be arrested and prosecuted.

And they were prosecuted and in all that time, when all this happened, I was admitted to hospital for one week and when I was discharged, the Superintendent had sent transport to fetch the children and we went to stay at Sada at an aunt's place and while all this was happening, I was no longer at Tendergate, I left them on the 26th and I never went back.

MS MAYA: What happened after these people, the trial was conducted at court - were they found guilty?

EB OLIPHANT: One person pleaded guilty and that was Mr Lumko, he pleaded guilty to shooting him and he was also a member of the ADM.

MS MAYA: In your statement, there are two Mr Lumko's to

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whom you refer.

EB OLIPHANT: Yes, that is so. There is Mr Lumko the son of the man who pleaded guilty to the shooting and there is this Mr Lumko who is a soldier and he is the son of this man who said the day before this all happened, I think it was a month or two before this happened, they came to my house, what made me ask how this all happened was, because my husband did not want to tell me everything.

I saw cracks somewhere near the kitchen and I asked what had happened and they said that soldiers had come during the course of the night and knocked and they had seen that it was the soldiers' truck and apparently they knocked and knocked and he said that he heard Bennie Lumko's voice saying that they should kick in the door.

They kicked in the door and he said that after they had kicked in the door, he pretended as though he had just woken up and when they came in, Bennie Lumko asked him why don't you open and he said, no, I was sleeping, I went to bed with a headache and I then fell asleep.

They wanted to know where the children were. My children were not sleeping at home at that stage and my husband said my children are there, and they said come, let's go to the children.

They then took him to the children and all the time they were telling him that you Mr Oliphant, and your family, we are going to shoot you one by one.

And they then went to my parental home, there was an old women. I live with, my parents are no longer alive, my aunt lives there. When they got there, the children were told to wake up.

My children was still very small then. I do not know

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what his intentions were when he said that they should go to the children and when he got there and saw how small they were, he decided to abandon that and he took my husband again and they left.

MS MAYA: How old were your children?

EB OLIPHANT: Tanda was nine years old. He was the youngest one. Thembinqozi was 15, Andile was 18 then.

MS MAYA: Did you people know Bennie Lumko before?

EB OLIPHANT: Yes, we knew him very well, so much so that before he was a very good friend of my husband's, while he was still a school child because we all used to go to church together and my husband was their choir master.

MS MAYA: Please proceed. Let us go back to the day of the 27th of August.

EB OLIPHANT: On the 27th of August, after they had shot him, he was taken to hospital and Dr Fernandez is the one who certified him dead and he could see that the person who shot him, was not someone learning to shoot, but it was a person that was good at shooting.

He was taken by the police to the mortuary, to the State Mortuary here in Queenstown.

MS MAYA: I am just trying to find out, because according to your statement you are complaining that Lumko senior was charged with your husband's death, why is that?

EB OLIPHANT: Because he was still old, he was old by then.

MS MAYA: But he was found guilty?

EB OLIPHANT: Yes, he was found guilty.

MS MAYA: And until when did he stay in jail?

EB OLIPHANT: He did not stay in jail for very long.

MS MAYA: Why not?

EB OLIPHANT: A message came from Gqozo when he was sent to

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Middeldrift that he must be released and they never went to Tendergate, even now, they don't stay in Tendergate.

MS MAYA: ; Do you know where they stay?

EB OLIPHANT: No, I don't know.

MS MAYA: There is somebody by the name of Mr Mrola that you speak about in your statement, who is he?

EB OLIPHANT: Mrola was one of the members of the ADM as well who was with these people.

MS MAYA: Was he going to be a witness or what happened?

EB OLIPHANT: He was still very young then, but then it was found that he knows quite a lot according to what I hear, that is and according to all the knowledge that he had, and the information that he was giving to the people about what happened that night, he knew quite a lot about what happened that evening.

It was found that the ANC had to try by all means to take him out of Tendergate, because it was quite clear that he was going to be harassed by people of the ADM.

And apparently he was taken away and he was taken by Mr Smith, who is an attorney is Cape Town and he went to stay by him.

And when he was in Cape Town, he died there and nobody knows what happened. He disappeared rather and nobody knows there he is.

MS MAYA: And up till now nobody knows where he is?

EB OLIPHANT: That is right.

MS MAYA: I would like you to just go back a bit please so that we can assure that there is nothing that we have forgotten to cover. How old are your children now?

EB OLIPHANT: My children are old now, I mean one has even been initiated.

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MS MAYA: Are there any at school?

EB OLIPHANT: Mbulele has stopped attending school. The two that are still at school are Andile and Thembinqozi.

MS MAYA: What standards are they?

EB OLIPHANT: They are in standards 10 and 7 respectively.

MS MAYA: Is there anything else that you would like to add before I ask you what your wish is from the Truth Commission, what you would like the Truth Commission to do for you?

EB OLIPHANT: I would like to make sure, even though I cannot say it myself because I know that my husband was really not shot by Mr Lumko, I would like this to be investigated by Bennie Lumko, that the day he came to my house and even when he mentioned that we should be shot one by one, what he meant by that.

And also that the Commission should try to establish that I know that it is not Mr Lumko that shot my husband, I do not accept that.

MS MAYA: Thank you very much, Ms Oliphant. I would like to hand you back to the Chairperson in case he has any more questions.

REVD FINCA: Are there any questions?

REVD XUNDU: Ma'am, I would like to ask you is Mr Bennie Lumko still alive?

EB OLIPHANT: Yes, he is still alive, he is still working, he is still a soldier.

REVD XUNDU: Where does he work?

EB OLIPHANT: I don't know where he works now, but he is still a soldier.

REVD XUNDU: We will try and investigate this matter and it will assist us in investigating this matter. Thank you

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very much.

REVD FINCA: Boniswa Oliphant, we thank you for the story which has become somewhat familiar to us people that were living in this area during the time when we were under a very corrupt Government of the Ciskei.

The way in which you have spoken speaks to our consciences. When the Headmen system was imposed and the way in which this led to the killing of many people in the then Ciskei homeland.

When we leave from here we are going to have a hearing at Bisho where we are going to be sitting especially for the things that happened during the Bisho massacre, as well as other related issues, issues related to the Bisho massacre.

We hope that people who were in Government, soldiers, policemen who were in positions during the time of Brigadier Oupa Gqozo will come forward and give us a picture of things that happened then.

You have already asked us to forward this question that you want to know exactly, you want to know all the details surrounding Welile's death, your husband's death.

We sympathise with what you have told us, we thank you for it and we thank you for the courage you have shown and also the time in which your husband passed away, which must have been a very painful time for you.

I trust that the Commission has gathered information while you were talking and also about the children who had been left behind, the Commission who will submit, make submissions to the President, I am sure that they will pursue this issue and see if anything can be done for you and your children in terms of what the President will say to this request and we would like to thank you now and ask you

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to take up your seat once more. Thank you very much.

 
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