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Type Children's Hearings
Starting Date 18 June 1997
MR MPAHLA: Thank you Comrade Chairperson. Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, students from different schools, the Chairperson of the TRC, the Honourable Desmond Tutu, distinguished guests and Reverend Bongani Finca, I greet you all on behalf of the East London Junior City Council, on behalf of all the Junior City Councillors of East London, on behalf of the Junior Town Clerk, Karen Oosthuizen and on behalf of our Junior Mayor Carla Nam.
We are here today to once again take the strength and weakness of the youth of South Africa. This is a most important occasion in the history of East London. Today youth of all races gathered here in large numbers with the aim of healing each otherís wounds. The wounds that were created by the past. Those wounds are to be healed through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This seminar sits in a month which is very vital in our calendar because of June 16th, today known as Youth Day. Today in our discussions, today in our submissions we should bear in mind the fact that an overwhelming majority of South African youths laid down their lives for what we have today. We are at the present moment faced with a serious problem as the youth of this country and that problem is the problem of crime. Young people throughout the world are affected. We need to start by saying no to crime so letís do away with crime.
May we once again take this opportunity to welcome you all to this important and wonderful occasion. Iím welcoming you on behalf of the East London Junior City Council and on behalf of the East London Mayor, Mr ... Also ladies and gentlemen I would not like to forget to thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the leadership of Doctor Desmond Tutu for organizing such an occasion. Finally I would like to thank you all for your attendance.
I therefore wish this ceremony every success and may each deliberation be constructive and effective. Iím leaving you with these words from Oartum, a nation, people, a country that does not have values in itís youth, that country does not deserve itís future. God bless you all. Amen.
CHAIRPERSON: Your worship Mr Junior Mayor. Thank you very much for your warm words of welcome and on behalf of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission I want to assure you that we take very much to heart the words that you quoted at the end of your address. I came here in April last year when we had the first public hearing of the Human Rights Violations Committee. It was the first, not just in this region of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it was the very first ever in South Africa. That must make it particularly unique and now we come to the end of a series of public hearings and this will be the last in this series in this Province. There will be one or two others except for what are called Institutional Hearings such as the one that is happening in Cape Town at the present time involving the health sector. We will no longer have hearings where individuals come to testify about the human rights violations that they have suffered.
We have by no means exhausted the stories in this country. We have heard some but even if we sat I think for ten or twenty years we would not hear all of the stories. Just yesterday at the hearing in Cape Town we heard harrowing accounts of what happened to people in detention but I think perhaps we have heard enough. We have heard enough for us to be able to draw the picture that Parliament expects us to draw, as complete a picture as possible of the gross human rights violations that have happened in the period 1960 to 1994.
Now we have a special hearing and as the Junior Mayor so rightly points out, it takes place very, very close to a date that none of us will ever forget, June 16th. I was saying to the young people who gathered in the old chamber on Sunday, I said to them you are meeting here where the laws were made, you are meeting here. I donít know that many of you perhaps remember. Some of you were probably not ideas yet. June 16th, 1976, twenty one years ago we adults had I think spent a lot of time talking, talking, talking but on June 16th young people said no, enough is enough. We have talked enough, now we must act.
We want to salute young people for the incredible courage that they showed then for we are where we are today, very largely due to the contribution of young people and so I welcome you all very, very warmly to this special hearing. I welcome you very warmly in this gathering of the Commission today where we are going to listen to the youth. We welcome you all at this special public hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where the youth are going to give submissions about what they think happened and what their future is all about.
Itís quite incredible actually. Have you noticed? You might not have noticed but it is not peculiar to South Africa that young people have made critical contributions. If you look for instance what happened in the United States at a time when the United States was fighting a war in Vietnam, it was largely young people through their agitation who forced the United States to get out of Vietnam. When some of us went overseas asking for sanctions, I used visit the United States and go to the campuses or colleges and universities and it was just before exam time when most students ought to be worrying about exams and grades and things of that sort, but they werenít. Many of them were demonstrating on behalf of us and it was very heartwarming to know that we had such tremendous support from young people. Not only young people but mainly young people and so we are where we are today because of that incredible contribution. I was saying to you, actually itís not a kind of aberration because if you look in the Bible, you see how God uses young people to accomplish Godís purposes. When the children of Israel are in trouble and the Philistines are giving them quite a bit of headaches and heartaches, they got somebody called Goliath. God didnít go around looking for old men like Archbishop Tutu, God got this young man David and David did his stuff and ended the boasting of Goliath. I donít know whether you remember too a prophet called Jeremiah. Now Jeremiah was quite young when God called him and he tried to use this as an excuse and he said no God, no, no, you want me to be what, a prophet? No sorry, and so God said to Jeremiah before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Now you might almost say that God didnít seem to know very much about human biology, I mean how do you know someone before they are conceived but actually what God was saying to Jeremiah is, you are not an afterthought, you are special, you have been part of my plan of all eternity.
God was saying something like, I mean I sometimes say nobody is an accident, we might look like accidents but nobody is an accident. When God wanted his son to be born he did not go to an old woman. Many forget that Mary was in fact a teenager and can you imagine if, when the archangel came to her and said knock, knock and Mary said come in and the archangel says hi Mary and she says hi then the archangel says God wants you to be the mother of his son. Imagine if she had said what? Me? You expect me to be an unmarried mother? In this village if you scratch yourself, before you know it everybody in this village knows it and you are expecting me, me to be an unmarried mother. If she had said sorry, Iím a decent girl try next door we would have been in real trouble. Mercifully she said behold the head maid of the Lord.
A Jew is in that tradition of those who are used by God, young people because young people as I told you those young people in Cape Town, young people dream dreams. Young people dream of a different kind of world where we donít have these incredible disparities of the very rich and the very poor and so we come first of all to pay tribute to those who have helped us to be where we are today and hope that we will get inspiration to realise their dreams. Their dreams of a better kind of South Africa, their dreams of a South Africa without crime, their dreams of a South Africa where educational opportunities are available to all, where health care is accessible to all, where people can get clean water and where people can live in decent homes. We come saying we have a precious gift, our freedom. It was bought at a very great price, many died and may we cherish this gift, may we remember the price that was paid, may we never devalue it.
I will now call on Commissioner Bongani Finca, no maybe I should introduce this panel here. By the way who are you? Reverend Mcebisi Xundu is a member of our Reparations and Rehabilitationís Committee, June Crichton is a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee, Bongani Finca is a Commissioner, a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is also our regional convener, heís the boss man here. When I come here I have to bow to him and kiss his big toe. Tiny Maya is a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and Ntsikelelo Sandi is a ..., a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee.
May I just also express very warm thanks to the City Council for affording us these facilities and thank you to the translators and to the equipment people who ensure that we have all of this properly done. Thank you also to the staff of the TRC for the work that they have done. You may clap for that too. Bongani Finca?
REV FINCA: Your Grace, thank you. I wish to echo the words already expressed by the Junior Mayor in welcoming you Sir, to this hearing and to thank you for honouring us with your presence on this our last public hearing in the Eastern Cape. We wish to also acknowledge the presence of Doctor Biki Minyuki who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. Iíll ask him very kindly to stand so that we can see him.
REV FINCA: Thank you Biki. We have in our midst the Senior Mayor of the City of East London who has just returned from Canada and as I understand, with lotís and lotís of money as well as the Deputy Mayor. We welcome you Sirs. Professor Wisemane, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare who will be making a presentation on childrenís experience in exile and the Director of Education in this region, Mr Zamatom. Thank you. Your Grace there are many other people that I perhaps should have introduced but if I do that I will take the time that I should devote to hearing the voices of the youth.
The order that we are going to follow today is going to be very different from the normal order that we follow in our hearings because this is not a Human Rights Violations Hearing, it is a hearing where we are going to be listening to the voices of youth as they express to us their vision and their dreams of a reconciled South Africa which has healed from the experiences of itís past. Your Grace the order that we are going to follow is as follows : We will ask Nyanisile Jack who is the researcher in the office of the TRC in East London to just give us a brief background to todayís hearing. Mxolisi Faku will share with us the experience of youth in detention. Professor Mbule Mzamane who has written extensively on the subject of children in exile will be sharing experiences of youth in exile. He has dealt with this subject in many of his publications. Nomakhwezi Gcina will share with us the experiences of young people living in home of political activists and Joseph Kreeling of Buffalo Flats will share the experience of living in politically inspired violence.
On the submissions by political parties we have Mr Pierre Reynolds and Bongani Bangela who are going to be making a submission on behalf of the Democratic Party and Mr V Mbinda on behalf of the PAC. The ANC has told us that their submission to the national TRC has covered all they wanted to say to the TRC but Iím aware that the ANC in East London wanted to say something. I donít know if they are here but if they are, we will give them a chance. The National Party of course declined to participate today although they have sent an observer who is in our midst. The other submissions that are going to be placed before us today your Grace, are submissions from the Provincial Youth Commission, the Inter Church Youth. I would request those two organisations to please give us their names and the names of people who are going to be speaking. The Clarendon Girls High School, Miss Karen Oosthuizen who is the head girl of that school as well as Junior Town Clerk, I understand will also be making a submission as well as Mr Xolile Nomana of Kusile Comprehensive School. We still require names of people who are going to speak on behalf of the East London High School, The Alphendale Senior School and COSAS. Weíll call then on Nyanisile Jack to begin with the research work.
MR JACK: Thank you Mr Chairman, the Archbishop and members of the penal. I greet you this morning. Perhaps as a TRC staff member I should be just be giving background information about the work that we have done, particularly focusing on the youth and children. Some of the things that we have discovered, or are in the process of discovering in our research, will be confirmed by the testimonies that will be presented here but at the same time our research confirms those testimonies.
It has been indicated in the past week and this morning that the youth played a gallant role in the political transformation of this country but at the same time because of the role that they played, they bore the brunt of the repressive arm of the state in particular. They also suffered the informal repression that ensued during the political struggle. What I think we need to acknowledge at the same time is that the youth and children were not just victims of the violence, political violence that we are talking about, they were also participants, their various explanations of why children and youth in particular became involved in violence. The youth and children would like the fact acknowledged that they were not innocent victims, some of them are proud of the role that they played in the political transformation that has transpired so far.
As a way of introduction, a number of children and youth were arrested and detained without trial under the provisions which denied them legal rights, of access to parent and or lawyers. In most cases these provisions did not discriminate between conditions of detention for adults and children. Children in particular were held in detention together with sometimes hardened criminals, with adults. On the basis of charges related to protests and unrest actions, many children were convicted and sentenced severely to lengthy periods of imprisonment. Sometimes in our research in acting with professionals thereís talk of possibly by reconciliation, some of those records need to be expunged because those children were unfairly treated, being charged for politically inspired violence.
It became apparent, particularly in the late Ď80ís that the State was mounting a systematic attack on children and youth using the terror of the armed forces and vigilante groups. In the past week, particularly in the reports we have seen images of ... in Guguletu in particular attacking townships, sections of the townships assisted by the security forces. They broke into family homes in the middle of the night and children were taken away to unknown destinations. All this had an effect of children being denied their right to be children. They were violently forced by the circumstances and the conditions which were predominant in the Ď80ís in particular, to be adults before their time. They were forced to make decisions and choices which are normally made by adults and they were made to fight battles they should not have been fighting as children. In other words, in some instances children were used as instruments of war and this exposed children to ongoing political violence which had long-term effects on their coping and resilience. The political violence affected children particularly in terms of the stress of living under curfew regulations, the insecurity of surveillance in your own areas, townships being occupied by the army and police patrols. Children of course were exposed to violence in various forms participating and monitoring political campaigns like stay- aways and consumer boycotts. For the majority of children the traumatic experience was not there own primarily but it was the detention of their parents or their primary care givers. In other words, their guardians and the arrest of their fathers and brothers. For the parents it was stressing as well for their children to be taken away, for children to leave their homes and live in exile but we will hear about this testimony soon.
In our research at the TRC we have tried to look at this distinctive role of the youth, how they played a leading role in the political transformation and also the human rights violations that were suffered by children. Where children in particular found themselves in detention, under house arrest or children being internal refugees particularly in the Province of Kwa Zulu Natal, running away from their villages and going to other villages or going to other Provinces and of course in the early Ď90ís the effect of inter community violence and all these psychological, social and physical effects of that violence. What we want to highlight again is the fact that the youth played a very distinctive role in the liberation struggle or the political struggle. Their mobilization into organisations by UDF among other organisations, the UDF, the National Forum which included AZAPO and other organisations and their role in political campaigns.
Again we will be failing as the Truth Commission not to acknowledge or to point out the negative role of that violence of that struggle because sometimes you tend to focus on the heroic aspects but there was also a negative aspect of that violence, particularly in post 1990 period where there was an apparent congruence between political activism and the criminality of the youth and of course their explanations for such congruence in terms of poverty, the political and social conditions. We have recorded this because as you may have heard in the testimonies of the Human Rights Violations Hearings people we necklaced and peopleís houses were fire bombed. These were the instances of this political violence that we have managed to record.
Significantly as the Truth Commission, although this has been apparent in our understanding of the political struggle in this country but in terms of the statements and the submissions that have been made to the Truth Commission and in our data base, we have found that there has been little direct abuse to children under the age of fourteen years. Those children have suffered what is called vicarious experiences where there is an indirect effect of violence where their siblings or their parents have been detained. The target group seems to be the age group between 15 years and older but under 30 years and since this is the target group of the political violence particularly from the State, it indicates the demographic profile of activists that were prominent in the struggle. In other words the people were likely to participate in the political struggles were those people between the ages of 15 and 30 years but of course people older than that were also involved but in public violence, particularly in marches and political protests, these were the kinds of people you would find. In our data base we have found that 59 percent of all torture cases that have been recorded in the TRC, the 59 percent of those victims are these people we call the youth, people between the ages of 15 and 30 although other people over 30 were also affected but the majority of cases that we have had so far indicate that the youth were targeted. The 49 percent of the 4494 killings that have been recorded in our data base also reflects that it is this particular age group, the age group between 15 and 40 years of age that has been targeted or that has suffered killings.
There were other methods of Human Rights Violations but killings, shootings and torture seemed to prominent. As I indicated earlier on, weíll be hearing testimonies but as the TRC what we wanted to do in terms of our own research, we wanted to acknowledge the contribution that the young people in particular have been made to the struggle for transformation and also to raise the awareness of the situation of children in this country. How the children and youth have suffered. I think Iíll leave it there because there are other submissions that are coming and because this is not the TRCís staff issue, the youth have to speak for themselves. Thank you.
MR FAKU: Mr Chairman, the Chairperson of the TRC and his fellow Councillors, the Councillor of East London, the Mayor of East London and the Deputy Mayor, the Junior Mayor and the Deputy Junior Mayor, students and young lions who are here today, I greet you all. I have been asked to make a submission of my personal experiences in detention during the early and late Ď80ís. I have therefore opted to present my submission in my mother tongue. This is how I will start. ... (interrupted)
CHAIRPERSON: I presume that all of you understand Xhosa. Thank you very much. As there is a shortage of these headphones, only those who do not understand Xhosa or English or Afrikaans, I mean those who donít understand Xhosa really should use them.
MR FAKU: Mainly the students and the youth who were suffering at the time were the students of my language in particular. Iím going to start in 1983. I was in Standard 8 at the time and very young at a film on ... High School. We were members of COSAS and we were enlightening students about the importance of forming the SRC ensuring that PTSCís are formed and corporal punishment is stopped. We tried as members of COSAS to enlighten students from all schools. There was a bus boycott in East London at that stage and as students we could not stand far from this. COSAS and SAWU were working together at the time so we therefore encouraged the students to participate in the bus boycott.
On the 3rd of August 1983 a curfew was declared in Mdantsane and the leadership of COSAS was arrested. We were not known at the time and were able to hide. We remained behind and continued with the struggle. Around the 7th of August, Mungaletu students boycotted their classes in support of their parents as we could not leave people being shot like that and not do anything about it. This is how the conflict between us and the police started. Eventually we were arrested as well. I would like to enlighten you on the forms of torture that we experienced even in our young age. I think the youngest amongst us was 10 or 11 years of age and his surname was Majeke. He was in hospital with a bullet in his body however after being discharged from the hospital he was taken back into prison. They would take our genitals and squeeze them against drawers hoping to get information because they were convinced that we worked together with people who were in exile and perceived us as a threat. They thought that we wanted to take over the country. After a month I was released from detention and I went back to school with intentions of continuing my education and enlightening the youth. I was terribly antagonized, seen as poison in the school even by the parents.
The bus boycott continued, schools were closed, people were detained, vigilantes were formed. In 1986, Iím sure that everyone here who is from Mdantsane will remember that at church everybody was beaten up, teargassed and sjamboked whether you were a Priest or a member of the congregation. All we were doing was commemorating June the 16th but what we got was being shot at church and beaten up. I havenít prepared well so I will keep reverting back. Going back to 1985 which was the most difficult year in South Africa for the students. The beginning of COSAS around here threatened the Government because COSAS was the largest affiliate of the UDF. The Government perceived COSAS as a big threat. The leadership of COSAS was detained and I was one of those that were detained. Some of us lost our lives. Matshoba, Dombaxhola Josi, Maxihole were murdered by the police. I have been told not to mention the names of the perpetrators because they have not been notified.
In 1988 as we were preparing for a conference as the national students coordinating committee I was detained for 5 months. As I missed so much school I kept failing and eventually did Matric in prison in 1988. These are my personal experiences but Iím not the only one who suffered. I also wish to come forth with the following suggestions as we have suffered in different ways. What Iím interested in and hopefully the students here as well is to know the perpetrators who murdered Andile Matshoba. Who gave the orders for his murder? I think Magadebe, Andileís mother would like to know who murdered Andile Matshoba. The role of the police is surely to uphold law and order so they should not be seen as people with evil intentions. There are comrades who also started working with the police. I hope that today the police know that their role is to protect communities, not to harass them. This was my experience Mr Chairperson.
PROF MZAMANE: Your Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairperson, Commissioner B.B. Finca, Honourable panelists, the Mayor, TRC Members, Junior Mayor and Councillors, students, parents, comrades, colleagues and friends here gathered, there seems to be quite an elastic definition of youth in the country and I find myself encompassed in that definition. Over the weekend as we were looking at the National Youth Commission we did extend the cutoff age to 35 but the truth is that even the 50 year olds can be so encompassed as well.
Your Grace I speak not so much on my behalf but to attempt and summarize very much the life experiences of others with whom I had the privilege to live over the space of some 30 odd years. I speak therefore from various vantage points. I speak on the one hand as a child exile myself. I was raised beyond this countryís borders by among others, the man seated across the table from me who thinks it is the height of fashion statements to wear purple dresses and funny koi-toytjies on his head as well. I speak also from the vantage point of having been an educator in exile myself. I speak also as one who was thrust into a certain position of responsibilities amongst which was as founder Chairman of the South African Refugee Committee whose major responsibility was to look after the interests of exiled children. I speak also as an exile myself and a traveller.
I think it is important for the record to periodize the experience we are dealing with here even though I would like to speak to a focus but there would seem to me to have been three distinct periods of exile in our recent history. We talk often about the Sharpeville generation and this is the spate of exiles who were thrown out in the aftermath of the political repression that followed Sharpeville. They were in the main older than subsequent generations of exile. The second generation perhaps might be what we normally refer to as the Soweto generation. This generation was numerically more significant as they were much larger in number but Iíd also like to submit that they were much younger. The third generation, the generation of the Ď80ís really might be the generation from the UDF era, this is really the post Ď84 generation. My focus Mr Chairman, would be on the Soweto generation for the reasons Iíve already alluded to. It would be important I think for the work of the Commission as well as for the understanding of this nation to begin to dispel the impression often created about exile as a bed of roses. One hears often enough the accusations of how those who were in exile lived perpetually perhaps in hotels, went to the best schools and that kind of thing. I think it is important for us to look at the experiences of these various people as one of these countries leading poets has done and Iím referring here to Bongani Serute who, when asked how he felt as an exile, what advantages accrued to him as someone who had managed to escape the fangs of apartheid, made the following observation, that it is ridiculous to ask whom you were about to burn, to torture whether or not in the gas chamber they preferred to be burnt inside the oven or on top of the stove. It makes very, very little difference anyhow and I think it might enhance our understanding to understand to some degree that in fact we were all exiles. One might talk of internal exiles for one example because we were all alienated from the country.
I would like very briefly and again I can only summarize themes I think in exile. Themes in exile life and one wishes here to speak not only of the agony because it was indeed an agonizing experience but also to indicate the ecstasy, the truly ecstatic moments of that experience as well. The former Secretary General of the African National Congress observed just over a month ago in a programme SAFM Alive, that one of the things perhaps in his mind which lingers as the most evil commitment, as the most sustained systematic measure of apartheid repression was on the educational fear, on the education arena. The depravation of oneís opportunity to develop oneís mind must surely rank as one of the most evil conceptions of apartheid, to actually deliberately foster a system that is going to deliberately distort, stun and otherwise repress oneís mind. Education it seems is a threat that runs through many of these life experiences. The thirst for education, the quest for education, the struggles internally against education, the desire to die rather than be foisted with an education for desalination and education for repression. Perhaps the greatest response by the State might be to look at education as a form of reparation for many of these child victims, indeed for many of the generation we are looking at now.
There were various other traumatic experiences Your Grace, the experience and the trauma of escape. I recall receiving a child of 8 years old whom we called Queenie, Queen of the exiles, a child who had escaped from Soweto sleeping by day and walking by night and walking through scary, unknown territory in what is today the North West, in a bid to cross the borders into Botswana. Just the shear trauma of escape into the unknown for an 8 year old. The trauma of arrival and being received in detention because you needed first to report yourselves to the authorities and the authorities did not run dormitories you see, so the only place where they could accommodate you whilst they checked your credentials was in prison. Just the uncertainty Mr Chairman, of imagining what you had tried to escape from and what you found yourself in. Detention as first port of call further traumatizing a child like Queenie and the living conditions to which you were then released.
I can recall negotiating with one of the Governments, the neighbouring Governments for a disused farm where we could accommodate some of these young ones. There was no farm left Mr Chairman, just four walls with an apology for a roof, a roof that was worst than a sieve, no windows and all that form of homelessness. Living in those days on stipend made available by the United Nations High Commission for refugees and in the Ď70ís and for many years this did not rise beyond thirty rand. Children having to make do with thirty rand a month and one imagines the hunger and the pains of hunger. The ever present threats from the apartheid State Mr Chairman often manifest in repeated kidnap attempts by the young ones.
One of the leaders of the Soweto uprising of June 16th, Siad Tsimashinini had no less than three kidnap attempts whilst living in Gaberone in Botswana until it was felt necessary that he should leave Botswana to go and live where it was not going to be possible to have him kidnapped. Having to go and immerse himself in the strange surrounding of a country known as Liberia and suffering and ending up a nervous wreck Mr Chairman, and dying in that process. Many of these having to be warned repeatedly never to travel ever by themselves and not in company.
The cross-border raids that are so well documented that have been the subject of other hearings in the Commission. One recalls here the deaths in Maseru in Lesotho where you your Grace was one time a Bishop, of some forty of these young ones or so shot randomly. One recalls the cross-border raids of the mid Ď80ís, Ď85 in Botswana where so many of these young ones were mindlessly murdered. These were truly some of the traumatic moments and one encounters again and again many of these not so young anymore who, in my humble opinion are probably in the stress of some post-traumatic disorder. I donít know if it might be totally out of order to attempt to seek some of them out because truly, as no counselling was ever provided, these may be some of the people seriously in need of counselling.
I think it ought to be stated for the record the roles played by foreign Governments especially beyond our own borders at great social, political and economic costs. Iím referring here Mr Chairman, to the reception by such Governments as the Governments of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland and these are sometimes the people whom this country is inclined to call aliens, alien immigrants, illegal immigrants. In the lexicon of this country an illegal immigrant is an African and a White is just an immigrant. The point Iím being melodramatic about perhaps Mr Chairman, has to do with the roles seriously played in our liberation struggle at great risk by some of these Governments but of course we also know that Governments far beyond the rest of Africa in the Scandinavian countries and elsewhere, played their roles.
There were also opportunities, opportunities to continue interrupted educational carriers Mr Chairman. We talk glibly in this country about how we are losing out on skills, on brain drainage and so on because we now have a Government which in the rather colourful vocabulary of the Deputy President is now run by the Bantuís. We talk glibly about how people are leaving the country in terms of skills. We talk less about what the country has regained by returned skills of those who did manage to acquire them. The opportunities for those who would not go into formal educational institutions to join the liberation armies and I think it is by popular understanding the turning point in the liberation struggle in this country that many of them sacrificed their own education to join those armies. One could talk at length Honourable panelists about the love engendered in situations of adversity of this kind, the lifelong friendships people nurtured, the marriages, the procreation you would say your Grace, accidental but sometimes planned. Indeed it would seem that as in South African life at large the theme running through it all testifies indeed to the resilience of a culture, a culture that has withstood over three hundred years of some of the most brutal repression ever perceived by one group of people against another, a resilient culture largely owing to itís capacity to transplant itself from one era to another and indeed from one environment, one nationality into another There might be some other times Mr Chairman, when we might perhaps more systematically and I was myself literally subpoenaed to appear here as I was getting off a plane and I would not be adverse to being in a position to more systematically document what one is talking to but that one might call for time. All I have time for and Iím also aware that even in this house there might be people who might talk even more articulately and in more in-depth terms to what Iím talking to but all I can achieve in the time at my disposal is just the brief summary Mr Chairman, the brief sharing of the truly agonizing as well as the truly ecstatic moments of accomplishment that came as a result. I thank you for the opportunity.
CHAIRPERSON: I wonít try to identify the periods when you were what you said you were and I was what you said I was but one is very proud to refer to you and think of all the things that you and some of your colleagues underwent and as you say the things that we have gained by people being able to return. Thank you very much for someone who came under duress you have done superbly well. We would like to know what it would be like when you come on your own account. I thank you very much.
MRS GCINA: I greet his Grace the Bishop and the members of the TRC that are here. The youth I greet. Iíve led a very difficult life starting in 1977 when Samora our eldest left this world. Weíd be sleeping at night and the police would come kicking the doors down wanting to know where my brother was and beating us up. They would burn down our house, arrest my mother and we would be left without a mother. In 1980 Msimasi left and even they would wake us up in the middle of the night beating us, wanting to know where our brothers are. Two of our brothers, I think the most difficult time in my life was in 1982 when we also lost my 3rd brother who was in exile and only 2 of us were left. In 1982 when my brother was 11 years old when both my mother and father were arrested, the two of us were left alone in the house. They were arrested under Section 29 and we could not even visit them, even our pastor could not visit them. We were treated like animals, my brother who was 11 years old and myself. Nobody was visiting us and even members of our extended family isolated us. As my parents were still in detention the police came early hours of the morning but fortunately there was a lady who came to spend the night with us and they kicked down the doors as usual. They never knocked they just kicked the doors down. That was the norm. They asked Mzokolo where our relatives were and he said he did not know he only knows where our parents and our siblings were. He was wearing short pajamas and they beat him up and took him with in a very harsh manner. We were left behind and didnít know what to do. He came back the next day at 2 oíclock. He was swollen and he couldnít even see. He also passed away. In 1985 up to 1989 giving a summary, my mother was arrested and put in detention for 4 years but no charges were laid. I lived with my father. There isnít much Iím going to say Mr Chairperson. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Before you leave we want to say we thank you very much. All of us who hear accounts such as that, can we keep bearing in mind that it is in sort of statistics sometime when you read a newspaper it says 5, 10 people were killed or 5, 10 people were detained and itís probably a good thing for us to remember that we are not talking about figures, weíre talking about human beings, people of flesh and blood and when you think of all that you read about detention without trial and itís all sort of nebulas. Itís a thing like this one that might just remind you that it was happening to people of flesh and blood and that in addition to all the things that she was saying, that her brothers went into exile and they never came back. They all died in exile and sheís describing what happened to her and her little brother when her father and mother were detained. I hope that you young people will have a little corner in your heart where you put these stories and when you go to good schools and you travel around and donít have to worry about a pass, some of you donít even know what a pass is, that you can travel around and nobody stops you for a pass and you can live anywhere you like if your parents can afford it. Just remember it didnít happen mahala, all of this and when sometimes you are tempted to do the sorts of things that some of us sometimes do, even when you have a good cause you see how you spoil it like if they are annoyed with Fort Hare because they are excluded. Instead of protesting properly and you have the right to protest, they trash up the campus, they destroy, they break windows. If you are tempted to do that just remember that today teargas doesnít just happen. In the old days even if we were sitting like this we wouldnít know when the teargas was going to come, when the dogs would come. We could say, I mean if the Universities were giving degrees in conducting funerals we would have got degrees with distinctions because we were burying like it was going out of fashion and maybe people forget that. I hope you young people would and that you will go to some of these sights where some of these extraordinary things have happened and stand there and say I am free today because these people lie here. Thank you for those who have sacrificed so that you and I can breathe freely. Thank you.
MR REYNOLDS: I have prayed this is why I have boldness to speak today. I am expecting my comrade Bongani to join me today but because of work pressures he was unable to come early this morning, so I hope he can come later this morning or this afternoon and give his submission. I am Peter Reynolds and Iím 25 years old. Good morning everybody, sorry. The Democratic Party Youth pursues equal partnership amongst young South Africans of different backgrounds. We desire a greater freedom and progressive change in the lives of ordinary young South Africans. Young Democrats survived the apartheid era as victims and as beneficiaries. The PFP youth in the Ď70ís and Ď80ís were known as the young progressives or the young progs. In the early Ď80ís they were inspired by late activists such as Molly Blackburn, Andrew Savage, Di Bishop and others. They were active mainly in the Port Elizabeth area attending funerals and protest rallies. Young progressives took statements from victims of torture in detention and they assisted people in getting permits to visit detainees in prison. They compiled lists of detainees and torture victims to be read out in Parliament and recorded in the Hansard of Parliament. This was before my time as I was a pupil.
My comrade Bongani was going to relate his experiences in the liberation struggle and after that and I will offer my knowledge as an ex-White in South Africa. I feel very honoured to tell my story to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as Iím not a victim of Human Rights Violations. I hope my submission will give the TRC and the rest of you sitting here this morning an understanding of how in the 1980ís I and my contemporaries, my peers were at the mercy of a system designed to socialize and condition us into the ranks of the perpetrators of apartheid. This land with itís history of patriarchy and authoritarianism has always dis-empowered itís youth. Young people, White and Black were kept under control by their elders, their cultures, by institutions and the Stateís systems. For years young people have not been listened to and their views have not been considered seriously. Classified White under the apartheid regime I and my peers enjoyed privileges because of the colour of our skin. We were born with and we were brought up with racist prejudices. Some of us did know about the injustices of the apartheid system. Others of us were ignorant and others did not want to know. During the 1980ís White pupils were dis-empowered beneficiaries of apartheid. We enjoyed the benefits of apartheid but not the power to change it.
The education system. The Stateís education system was engineered so that we would follow the beliefs and prejudices of our forefathers. The Nationalist Governmentís Christian National Education was particularly geared towards coercing young people to memorize facts rather than to think critically. The total onslaught propaganda of the 1980ís was reinforced at our schools, police visited our schools to show up communist weapons, terrorists weapons and riot police did mock terrorist attack demonstrations in front of us. The SADF exhibited their weapons and their vehicles at our schools. From the 1970ís and 1980ís White school boys were forced to do cadets at high school. We marched like toy soldiers and were made to admire the military establishment. We played out mock battles against the terrorist who attacked us. Cadets was a gradual indoctrination towards the inevitable national service White South African males had to face after school and if you tried to avoid it you were labelled a "sissy", a coward and a traitor.
The call-up. If we indicated our conscientious objection to military conscription and the apartheid system it was upholding and it was a few of us who indicated our objection, we were quickly advised by our elders to keep our thoughts to ourselves and put up with the system of military conscription. We were told and we were made to understand or at the time it was understood, that conscientious objectors served 6 years in prison for their ideas and beliefs. People said to us things like, you donít want to waste your life like that my boy. One month camps were mandatory every year after the 2 year conscription. Many young men wasted valuable working time in these camps and very often they sat around doing nothing. I know because I have family members. The regime kept some of them busy however committing the Gross Human Rights Violations of the past. In the 1980ís certain young men defied the call-up or the camps, they fought the State in protracted court cases. The end conscription campaign was prominent in this struggle. The Nationalist Government and itís apologists portrayed the end conscription campaign as a group of unpatriotic wimps who were running away from military discipline and physical training. Coercion however into the Governmentís security machine was a lot more subtle than that. We were told the army would turn us into men. It was the White manís circumcision school. ... They said we were doing our duty to our country and some of my peers and my contemporaries endorsed this propaganda and I and others were not convinced by it. In military service young White men willingly or unwillingly were patrolling the townships in the 1980ís and some committed the many Human Rights Violations reported to the TRC, others were anxious of the consequences should they be ordered to shoot unarmed civilians.
The media. White communities subscribed to a print and broadcast media that was either controlled or influenced by the NP Government. Detailed reports on this topic were already submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but I want to acknowledge the media also affected young peopleís views of South African society. SABC television was particularly effective among young people. Opinions were shaped by a TV defined reality controlled by the National Party regime and itís yes men.
What of the future? Our future shine with opportunities but the youth desperately need empowering. DP youth believes the only way to empower young people is to put them into power, we mean real power and we mean real youth. On their own youth commissions are effective instruments for marginalizing the youth from mainstream decision making in this country. We hear men in their mid 30ís speaking on behalf of youth but we prefer to listen to people in their teens and 20ís. In future elections we want to see substantial numbers of MPís under the age of 25 years in the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures. Si nom bono. The voting age will be lowered to 16 years enabling young people to participate in the future of a better South Africa and this is a realistic vision because young people, children and youth sacrificed their lives for the liberation of our country. Teenagers today are more politically literate, more socially aware and more informed of current issues than they were before. They are more than qualified to make political decisions, they have succeeded in the knowledge of politics. Youth Day commemorations are too often hijacked by political leaders as an occasion to push their own agendas or a convenient photo opportunity. We want to see leaders stop talking for a while, to stop talking on June 16th and let us speak. They will listen to us taking our opinions and our ideas seriously. We do not want to be commanded and ordered around, we want to be listened to. This day is a positive step in that direction. When these positives steps are taken showing faith in young people then we in South Africa will lead the nations of the world. We as South Africans are going to lead the whole world. Reconciliation in South Africa is being strangled by the icy grip of pessimism, pessimism fueled by crime and poverty. This is the social violence that Bantu Steve Biko wrote about but we have hope for our country. We South Africans survived our worst legacy, we earned the best for our beloved country. We will realise that accomplishment. South Africa is one nation with one future. Thank you very much. I believe my comrade Mr Bangela is in the hall and I want to know if heíd like to come up and say his submission.
MR MBINDA: Chairman of the TRC, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and members of the TRC, youth from different colours or different races, members of the political organisations who are here, I want to greet under the name of the Pan African Congress of Azania. I will make the same request as my other colleague said and that is I would like to present my submission in my mother tongue which is Xhosa. I have been sent here by the PAC youth on their behalf, the Azanian Youth Unity which started in 1983. It was in 1984 that I joined Azania and I studied in Johannesburg in 1983. When I joined this organization we were operating from a school called Ulwazi in Mdantsane and that is where we held our meetings. There was only a few of us and I didnít know what the cause was because we were following a huge organization called the PAC. After we elected our executive of Azania we heard that the leaders that had been elected were being harassed. Xholeni Nbani is one of them, Malu Sigoli and Sam Kelongazi as well. We then decided to change our offices from Mdantsane because, we then got offices from African Workers Association that was operating in Ndozoge in the Kimberley route. Even then it wasnít easy because weíd be holding a meeting and members of the security forces would come and disrupt us. We had gone to form the roots of Bohgo. They would say that if we wanted Sebukwe we must dig underground and weíll find him. Most of our members were subjected to this harassment. The East London branch included Mdantsane, Punzani and East London but there were no Black people or African people staying in East London. It was the kind of situation that as a youth in the 1980ís you could not avoid politics because you would experience the political situation within your own home. You would ask your mother for something as a student, maybe you needed school shoes as some students would have proper school shoes and you didnít. When you ask for a pair of school shoes she will tell you that she does not have the money to buy a pair and you would feel as if your mother is useless. It caused a lot of anger when you asked your mum why she could not afford a pair of shoes when the others can. You always want to commit yourself to something that would neutralize that anger.
History tells us, it reflects like Napoleon Bonaparte and people used to laugh at his dwarfish figure and he decided to be a militarist. We heard a lot about Adolph Hitler and they had the same background so we at home as well joined politics not only because we were associated with politics but we joined because of the anger that we inherited from our homes. There is another era which I donít want to miss here even though I know that some of us are going to be hurt but I have to talk about it. When the United Democratic Front was formed in 1983, we thought as the youth that itís a unity of the oppressed against the oppressors and we thought that the United Democratic Front will accommodate all the liberation forces of this country but it was a different trend. It was a different trend in the sense that there was an emerging monopolistic tendency and political heat ... which was perpetrated by some of the liberation forces. There was a faction which was growing to an extent that it affected our lives, it affected our upbringing because it resulted in feuds, massacres and violence. I can quote here the incident of Utenhage. I know what has been presented in the newspapers is a distortion of exactly what was happening in Utenhage because I was physically there in one of the incidents and I remember when our dedicated comrades, Weelan Nxokane and Kenju Machagwe were burnt in front of us. I also remember the eras which took place in places like Fort Hare as well as in Komga where members of the PAC were suppressed. This meant the PAC had to be more militant because to our analyses and interpretation of the situation we were not fighting the enemy only, we were also fighting with our fellow brothers.
We want to convey this message as the youth of PAC to the TRC that what had happened in the past can be reconciled only if, I repeat that it can be reconciled only if all the perpetrators of violence during the apartheid era can come forward and when I say all I mean all as from the death of Bantu Steve Biko. The doctors were responsible for examining him and we knew that they were State paid agents so they must come forward and submit their positions. We also want the TRC to understand the PAC as to what had happened during the attacks of the Azanian Peopleís Liberation army, that it was not only because of PAC or APLA were blood thirsty warmongers, it was also because of what had happened in the past. As Iíve already indicated that we left the country, many of our fellow brothers and sisters left the country not because of their political maturity but because of the harassment on both sides and that resulted that when our fellow comrades arrived in exile, taking a position of coming back with their weaponry and to kill. That was the situation created by the apartheid era.
I can also not forget to quote the PAC whereby it was put in a situation where it could not organize itself especially in schools. Many of our comrades in schools like Pandulwazi where 11 of our comrades were expelled in 1990. In Adelaide 30 school kids assaulted homes, burnt and expelled homes of our fellow comrades. In 1990 in Semour 22 members of PASO were physically assaulted. In 1992 in Emanzini at Peddie 2 members were killed and 4 members were shot in Fort Hare with AK47ís and in 1992 in Fort Beaufort the same thing happened, one of our members was shot with an AK47. We never heard any of these people who committed these crimes come to the TRC and submitting their positions, we never heard that and if we talk about being really serious about reconciliation, we need those people to come forward.
I cannot forget the attack at Mpenduloís house by members of the South African defence force in 1993. Comrade Chairman, I want to inform you that we have information of the people who were physically involved in perpetrating that attack in the house of Mr Mpendulo where 4 school kids were maimed and killed and we are prepared to cooperate with anyone who is prepared or who is in need of the names of those people. I want to quote one person who came to our office in 1993. His name is Zozo Matiwane. He came to our office and informed our security personnel that, that house in Norwood is going to be attacked and we thought that he was joking but after 2 days we heard that 4 school kids were killed and he came again and told us that he had told us that the house would attacked. You ask yourself where this person gets this kind of information from, to be so brave as to tell you that a particular house is going to be attacked and have the guts to come and tell us that this house was going to be attacked. The perpetrators must then come forward with their submissions and tell exactly what happened. We know that the Boers were not physically involved but other people were used to perpetrate that violence. Thank you very much Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I think we want to take the plea that you made for tolerance very seriously that we may end up destroying ourselves. One of the things that we need to be cultivating in this era of freedom is the fact that we should allow each person the freedom of their own opinion whether we agree with it or not. My father used to say, improve your argument donít raise your voice, so perhaps we want to learn that when we use physical violence against an opponent we thereby admit that we do not have a cogent argument to convince that person.
MISS OOSTHUIZEN: Good morning everyone. As you have already heard Iím Karen Oosthuizen from Clarendon High School and Iím also the Junior Town Clerk of East London. The vision of a reconciled nation is indeed a magnificent one. It is one in which all racial discrimination has been eradicated, one in which all people are concerned about both their own and other peopleís personal development and empowerment, one in which the people work together as a team striving to ensure a better future and respect for human rights on all levels. It is the destination at which we, as todayís youth will be able to look back at with much pride and immense gratitude to all those that have helped the process of reconciliation in any way. The day on which the rainbow nation is a reality will most certainly be great day for South Africa as it will mark the beginning of a new era history, an era of growth and prosperity.
When we, as the youth of this country look at and consider just how much progress has already been made in the part 4 years specifically, towards realising this dream we can only feel positive and confident about the nation we will help to one day lead. There are two kinds of ways of looking at the past. Firstly we can cling to the old prejudices and the idea of blame for apartheid injustices or we can acknowledge that, terrible as the past will always be we, as young people were not responsible. Whites were part of a system but as children we had no power to change the system but now apartheid has gone and we do have the power to change our mind set, to abandon racism prejudice, hatred and to move forward ready to make compromises and sacrifices because they are necessary. We canít all just have our own way. In the more recent past what have we as individuals done? Have we tried personally to abandon racist thinking? Do we still point fingers at and label other groups? Have we started to break down the walls or are we actually still building them? We have to stop blaming on another for apartheid and the situation in which we found ourselves now. The situation weíre in now is our responsibility because we can improve it or we can make it worse, thatís our choice. We have a greater responsibility than any previous generation. It is up to us here and now to make sure that the past remains the past and that we never allow ourselves to victimise others because of it. Our mind set must change, our attitude must be open and honest and unafraid. We have challenges to meet and itís up to us to accept these challenges.
One of our main problems at this point is the differences that exist culturally amongst us and which because they are misunderstood lead to labeling and generalizations. From a personal point of view, Iíve had the privilege of working on the East London Junior City Council. This is the first Council in South Africa, the first Junior Council in South Africa to undergo the transition process. It has been in this capacity that I have learnt so much about accepting or rejecting where necessary, other peopleís points of view. On our Council we have had to work really hard to get to grips with our differences. At times as Iím sure my fellow Councillors will agree with me, it has been highly frustrating for all of us. We have got angry, we have felt upset but we have persevered and in doing so we have come to understand where other people are coming from. It has been a truly fantastic experience. If I look at how much I have learnt and gained from working through this process, from not giving up, I canít wait for the rest of the country to do the same thing. It has been so enlightening and so rewarding. It gives me so much hope for our wonderful country and all itís people.
How can we build a culture of respect for human rights? This is a difficult area and I must be frank here, generally White youth are politically ignorant. They have never had to fight for their rights and they have been moulded by the input of their parents and the Nationalist Government. All schools need to introduce some form of political forum or system whereby pupils can be educated in a mature and open manner in which they can ask questions and receive answers and not feel threatened either by the teacher or adult or by one another. There are so many new areas that need to be spoken about across all cultures but our parents were taught not to talk about politics and in many cases they have passed that reluctance or lack of interest onto us but we, particularly us Whites have to change all of that. We have to make it our business to educate ourselves politically and not to apathetically continue to generalize in the ways that our parents did. What we have to try to do is follow the thinking of Aticus Finch in particular Mocking Bird. He stated that in order to understand someone, you need to walk around in their shoes. We can all really try to do that. It is time now to put our words into actions. Do we want reconciliation, do we really, really want it and if we do we have to work hard, try hard, tussle with our problems, not give up and make sacrifices where necessary. It is not going to be one-way traffic. There are going to be cultural collisions but with people like our President and Archbishop Tutu to inspire us and they really are inspirational examples to us all, how can we possibly go wrong. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, if we have people like you, how can we go wrong? Thank you very much for your wonderful input. One realises more and more some of the things that we used to theorize about that apartheid denied us and deprived quite a lot but in the process the other people were also denied and we were all impoverished and now we are going to be enriched wonderfully as each of us makes our particular contribution and we realise that there is space enough for everybody and there is space enough for all the different cultures, thereís space enough for all different kinds of points of view. Thank you.
MR NOMANA: The Honourable Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Co-Commissioners of the TRC, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to extend my heartfelt greetings on behalf of the pupils and staff of Kusile Comprehensive School. I must say that we feel greatly honoured as a school for being selected to make a submission to this historic gathering. As a starting point I think we need to focus on the concept of reconciliation within the context of what has taken place in our country during decades of White majority domination. Having focused on that we shall then be able to say exactly how this sad past has impacted on our relationships.
It is a well known fact that successive White Governments institutionalized racial discrimination in virtually all spheres of our lives namely, in education, sports, religion, political institutions, public amenities etc. This resulted in polarization of national grooves especially between the indigenous African people and the people of European decent. A very substantial percentage of latter group approved of the racial policies of successive majority Governments by way of returning them to power through the ballot box. Whenever the African people were tempted to effect a change of Government through non-violent brutality, individuals who were seen as a threat to the political establishment were singled out and they were either maimed or permanently removed from society. The assassination of the former student of Teflock University in 1972, Abraham Tero comes to mind. They maiming and the subsequent permanent removal of Sipiwe Ntinkulu from society, the death of Steve Biko in detention and the cold-blooded murder of Mdtanda Ndodo. The list is endless.
Reconciliation as envisaged in terms of the promotion of the National Unity and Reconciliation Act seeks to bring together the perpetrators of these horrific crimes we mentioned, with the victims or families. Having disclosed fully all their acts of barbarism the perpetrators then became eligible for amnesty. In other words their prosecution is not automatic. I think it was no incident of history when the United Nations organization declared Arbour Day to their crime against humanity and as such perpetrators of that crime must stand trial in the same way as perpetrators of Nazism stood trial at the end of World War 2.
The countless massacres that were organized by successive racist regimes should be regarded as the genocide of a defenseless people similar to the genocide of the Jews in Nazi Germany. At this junction one needs to remind the audience that South Africa is a circular State but it is no secret that the TRC is loaded with religious idealism. This religious idealism deliberately escapes to address the real issues that could help to form a very firm basis for a reconciled nation. A child will never refrain from doing wrong things until he is told and subsequently punished. To me the road that is followed by the TRC especially the Amnesty Clause of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act can never bring about a reconciled nation. To this end the TRC is just peppering over the cracks.
In conclusion I think a culture of respect for human rights can only emanate from what society is capable of doing to those who perpetrated Gross Human Rights Violations over the years. This is the only opportunity to set a precedent about these culprits so that never again would anybody think of violating human rights. ... 2 of our Constitution which deals with the Bill of Rights should perhaps we integrated into our curriculum. Finally a permanent Human Rights Commission should act as a watchdog against any violation of human rights. Thank you all.
CHAIRPERSON: You were accompanied. Itís just accompanied. Thank you very, very much. What is important is that you have been willing to express a point of view that is probably not generally shared and that is wonderful and we hope we will have many more who will be able to swim against the current. Thank you.
______________: Good morning to my Dignitaries, Honourable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and boys and girls. First of all I would like to thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for giving us this opportunity as young people to show how we feel about the past, present and future of our country.
To reconcile. To reconcile is to bring different nations that have been on good terms with one another due to the differences of opinion. The Eastern Cape youth feels that the role to reconciliation has brought about peaceful coexistence among all races in South Africa. Reconciliation has replaced hatred with love and harmony. All races promoting peace together and working hard for the new South Africa. There are equal opportunities in places of work and pleasant attitudes towards one another. The youth of the Eastern Cape also feels that the change of attitude inside the hearts of the different races is not yet 100 percent positive. The apartheid system has done a lot of damage to us. We know what has happened in the past and we know that the Whites have been against the Blacks in very single thing, even the bathroom of the White man was separated from that of the Black man. The Blacks did the dirty work whilst the White man sat at his office desk drinking tea. People have been physically, politically and emotionally destroyed. It brought so much division, so much violence, inhumanity, hatred and in this rainbow nation of ours there are still some people who have apartheid and there are still some people who are filled with anger because of the past because it doesnít just go away. The heart does just not disappear the memories are still there and will remain there but with the help of society we can help to soften the hearts of the people and try and change their way of thinking. I thank God that the apartheid system has ended. We are fighting on the same side, we are fighting against crime.
With the help of the TRC respect has been gained by the people of this country by having to come forward with our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. It shows a great deal of respect. We also have to play our part in this South Africa of ours and try and understand one another. The rights of humans should be important because it helps regain peopleís dignity. There should be no religious discrimination and people should learn to accept others as they are. If people could just forgive and forget, understand, respect and treat each other equally then there would be a great atmosphere between the people of South Africa. We should build peace because peace build and violence destroys.
Lastly, I pray to God to give our President Mr Nelson Mandela the power and all the help he needs to fulfil the needs of the people of South Africa and carry on a successful and honourable job. Thank you.
______________ : Greetings to you all who are present here today especially to Archbishop Tutu. Thank you very much for coming. It is our pleasure to see you. We had dreams about you as we thought we would never see you when we were growing up and that weíd just carry on seeing you on TV but now as we see you, it is our please. God bless you. It is my pleasure to stand here before you as a student of East London Secondary and speak about something that affected us South Africans especially racism and apartheid.
We remember that those students who died on June 16th in Soweto were fighting for us. Brothers, sisters let us now rise up and learn. These students died because they wanted this generation not to have difficulties learning a language such as Afrikaans in all subjects. These pupils were having a rough time at school as we know that non-Whites were lacking opportunities, a non-White was shut out. We were not allowed to have high positions and the Whites used to call us all kinds of names. The non-Whites suffered in this country but I say now is the time that a non-White shows what he can do. Students must learn, parents must work hard. How long will the White man be a leader and not a non-White. We have a non-White prisoner, Nelson Mandela but we still do not have enough non-White leaders. We have the power, we have strength to make things happen. We see something that we did not see when a White President was in charge because since a non-White President has taken control over this country, we have not heard that someone has died because he is White but when the White Presidents were in control, many non-Whites were dying.
We as school pupils think there is a big improvement in this country and we know that a non-White loves although he was stricken, beaten, treated like a dog but today those people who committed these horrible things live with us and we love them although theyíd beaten up our fathers and mothers etc. This is very encouraging to us as the youth of this new South Africa. There is no White assassinated just anyhow because there is a strict law made by a non-White. This just shows that a non-White is very kind, loving obedient and forgiving. I remember that the Whites had their own schools but when a non-White took over all, that came to an end not because they wanted to destroy but to build a nation of unity.
Brothers and sisters never mind you age, do not worry about fighting physically, now is the time. Martin Luther did say one day this nation will rise up. I want us youngsters to start realising that we are the future of to-morrow. Brothers, sisters we are South Africans, we will live South Africans and we will also die South Africans. Now is the time that no matter if you are White or non-White we fight for peace, let us not seek revenge. Letís forgive one another and help each other out, settle our differences and lead the way of love for God is love, with love we are the best nation, without love we are nothing. Letís work together in unity and bring prosperity and success for all South Africans. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall. God grant us peace in our land South Africa. Thank you. God bless you all.
_________________: I greet you all. The events of June 16th, 1976 in Soweto brought about the beginning of the end of the system of apartheid in this country although the uprising started a rejection of Afrikaans as forced medium of instruction in our schools it was the start of a revolution which brought about the present dispensation. From June 16th, 1976 the youth played itís rightful role at the forefront of the struggle to end racial discrimination in this country. In the struggle of the workers against the employers, in student battles for a better system of education, in the arms struggle for a violent overthrow of the White domination and in other fronts of the struggle our youth played an important role. Today when the people of our country are faced with the task of building one nation, the youth has got a task of continuing the battle of establishing a better society, a society based on democratic principle, of fairness, justice and equality and non-discrimination between sexes. The struggle of the your demands that the youth should be disciplined. Without discipline the youth will never be able to fulfil itís historical role in our society.
The President demands that our youth should change some of the tactics which were successfully employed in the past. For example the culture of boycotts would change to a culture of negotiations because in the past boycotts were used to show rejection of the past political system. Today the situation has changed. The present political system came through in negotiation by all the races of this country. To boycott what belongs to us is a self destructive and naive. Our youth has got to work for the ideal rainbow nation which is a nation composed of all races in this country whether Black or White. Our youth should follow the example which was set by President Mandela. They youth has got to strive for reconciliation amongst our people. As Christians we should learn to forgive. Yes, bad things happened in the past but no one can change that, it is a bad part of our history that we should learn to live with. Statements by de Klerk to the TRC that they did not know about atrocities carried out by itís soldiers and police does not help us bring about reconciliation.
Respect for human rights must be one of the goals of our youth through participation in sport and other cultural activities as deemed chosen, can help to foster a culture of human rights and non-racialism must be dumped into the heads of all. We are all human being regardless of colour, being different is Godís will and not the humanís will. To conclude I do not in any way imagine that the above task facing our youth can be accomplished easily in a very short space of time. These are life long tasks but a start has to be made in great seriousness. The youth has fought the past battles with great success and they have got to face the present task with great dedication and the courage they showed in the past. Thank you all.
MISS MGOBATA: My colleague here is Vulu Ndombela. The Honourable Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Co-Commissioners of the TRC and Distinguished Guests I greet you all on behalf of the Alphendale Secondary School. June 16th, 1997 marked the 21st anniversary of the events that fundamentally changed the political scenery in South Africa. April 1994 and our newly adopted constitution are achievements that this country can take pride in. This was never have been possible without the events of June 1976.
June 1976 also highlights the involvement of a very important sector of the South African population of then, the youth. In challenging an unjust and unpopular system. June 1976 also shows clearly the role the South African youth played in issues of the national issues.
It is with this background in mind that we welcome the opportunity to share our views and national reconciliation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, because the youth of today has as much a meaningful role to play in issues of national interest as they did twenty one years ago.
The South African society is still fragmented because our recent past which was characterized by legalized separation. From our history it is evident that this separation did not benefit the majority of the South African population and bred contempt and ill-feelings. This created a society that does not know itself because of separate development, a society that is violent because itís children have been growing up with violence, a society without complete families, a society that is not trusting because the children have been taught not to trust other groups, a society that does not have respect for fellow citizens because the children have been taught that some groups are not to be treated as equal as others.
The Government, through the Promotion of National Unity and Rehabilitation Act and specifically through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is tasked with ensuring that the above-mentioned never happens again. The TRC is one vehicle that can be used in achieving national reconciliation.
The process of national reconciliation requires of us to be responsible. We need to take responsibility for the past. The past and present leadership of our country must be seen to be at the forefront of this process.
: Greetings to the Chairperson and to the Co-Commissioners. What I have is a message to the youth of South Africa as a whole. As the youth of South Africa we have to realise that we have a critical role to play in this process. Our responsibility is to ensure that we are part of the Reconciliation process. We need always be aware of this process so that our actions, when dealing with other people that other people are informed by this. We need to talk about it with peers to find out what it means to different people.
MR MAXILESI: Familiar headlines in the newspapers read "youth stoned women to death", "five youths stabbed to death by rival gangs", "youth convicted for rape", "youth in crisis in South Africa", youth jailed for thirty years for attempted murder and robbery", "Kwa Zulu Natal political violence - thirty youths died", festival ends in chaos -youths stone top artists", "mother abandons three children and a cat". Why this situation? Let me take this opportunity greet the panelists, Archbishop, the youth, Ladies and Gentlemen.
The system of apartheid in all itís manifestation has left the majority of youth in serious social, economic and political crises. The brutality of apartheid, the apartheid Government and itís homelands has led to a systematic elimination of youth activists such as Simphiwe Mtimkhule of Port Elizabeth, Bathandwa Ndondo of Cala and many others. The features of the state at war with itís racially chosen section of itís citizenry have been present in this Province of the Eastern Cape for many decades. The harassment and confrontation with the people residing in the Province was indiscriminately in terms of age.
The youth were equally victimised through the grand plans of social, economic and political systems whose pedestal was to dominate Black people, suppress their democratic rights so as to allow Whites privileges including the privilege of the White youth to strike without disturbances. They same system inflicted psychological scars and misery on the lives of many White South African youths through the programmes which were introduced by the past Government of military conscriptionís. Youth experience during apartheid era.
The confrontation between the Government and those residing in the Province has led to the detention of many young people who had to spend long spells in jails either under the notorious Section 29 or without being convicted by the courts of law. The physical torture by the security police and the general of the normal lives of many young characterizes the lives of Black youths in the Province. Week-ends which should have been spent on recreational and other youth related activities, have been spent in cemeteries as victims of police. A feature that for many decades became a norm in South Africa as a whole. In the face of a mounting state repression and institutionalised oppression, many families left the country to reside in other countries, either to live or to study or join the liberation movements where they were hosted by other countries. The breakdown of family units and the links with extended families due to the exodus affected in a traumatic way the lives of many youth. Many young people and members of their families have died in exile either in active duty for the liberation movements, natural causes and other causes. Some have been inflicted with incurable diseases some of whom can be attributed to the social and economic hardships they experienced in foreign countries.
The racial and cultural divides characteristic of the South Africa of the past damaged a sense of patriotism among the majority of South African youth. The methods used by the state of suppressed popular resistance and the methods of struggle used by the youth were basically violent methods which contributed to the divide and alienation of the youth population according to their racial and ethnic identities.
The bullets from the police and the soldiers of the then South African Government were unleashed by the youthful in the service of the apartheid Government of the day and the retaliatory and at times offensive stone throwing and petrol bombing in Black communities was an act engineered and implemented by the youth. The methods of confrontation damaged the minds of the youth of our country from both sides of the racial and ethnic divide. The country as a whole has a responsibility of killing violence as an entrenched means of solving problems. Battles and operations during the height of the South African conflict have cost the country many young lives.
I we had a normal society in South Africa, South Africa could have contributed in their countries in a qualitatively different manner. In active duty in different spheres of life in South Africa and from the ranks of the unemployed youth and the students, youth are products of the highly militarised confrontational past of South Africa and many of them are wearing serious psychological scars. Whilst over the years the South African conflict has proceeded to be a highly armed conflict. In the 1990ís we saw a rapid militarisation of youth through structures such as self defence units, the self protection units. At the core of the command and operational structures of the SDUís and SPUís were young people many of whom were related to the conflict in the only manner they saw possible.
The mobility and the movement of working youth from the rural areas to the migrant labour system have contributed in displacing and exposing millions of youth to the harsh realities of institutionlised and systematic oppression and exploitation of the Black person and the accompanying racial arrogance of the bosses at the factory floor. These experiences have left vivid memories that will continue to shape the psychological make-up of generations of youth who are products of the South African past.
South Africa is a land of diversity culturally and religiously. Over the years, cultural expression has been utilised to indoctrinate and dominate young minds. South Africans in the past including generations of youth expressed themselves in cultural terms in a manner that corresponded with their political and/or religious convictions. The state assisted such cultural relations by entrenching a submissive culture through the syllabus and curriculum and further promoted an image of a culture that coincided with a racial system elevating one racial group over the other. Good young artists with great potential have failed to realise their dreams excelling in their different artistic and sporting codes due to a system that was extremely brutal to the mind which limited and regulated realisation of goals by the youth of this country.
Of all the institutions and Government systems in South Africa the criminal justice system enjoys the least popularity amongst the large sections of our population which is the South African youth. Firstly because of a poor understanding of the system itself and the perception shared by other sections of the society that they system has an orientation of the past, a past that has been defended even if it meant manipulating the criminal justice system. Individuals and groups from the youth population have suffered from a biased functional exercise of the system. Problems of gender relations which manifest themselves in criminal behaviour such as rape and child sexual abuse have received much attention lately precisely because of a growing perception that rapists and criminals are protected by law.
MR MAXILESI: Alternatives to what has been said. Well-planned and systematic changes aimed at social, economic and political reparation are urgently required to deal with the devastated youth life. Further victimisation of the youth should be avoided through optimal use of all available resources that the Government has at itís disposal in close cooperation with the broader civil society. Development of the youth basically mean the qualitative changes in the socio-economic situation of the youth. Much conflict that resulted in the loss of lives and the current apathy of large sections of the youth came as a result of a political system opposed to democratic participation. Continuous and consistent political participation of the youth is an imperative that must be encouraged by all in order to realise a dynamic society influenced by all sectors of the society. Programmes and projects that engage youth in productive activities will supply the country with solutions to the inherited youth difficulties.
The alternative course aimed at enabling youth to enjoy their rights will depend on the extent to which the country works for a peaceful South Africa. The legacy of racism is a national concern which the country still experiences. Outstanding racial barriers must be removed to allow youth of various groups to cooperate and join hands in building a country and a future that is undeniably theirs. The National Youth Policy presently evolved by the National Youth Commission and the Provincial Youth Commission in close partnership with youth organisations must provide a framework that will give clear guidance on sustainable development of the youth. Youth focus will have to deviate from confrontation and conflict, adjusting and adapting to the new national ethic of peace and democracy, is a challenge the youth must meet with great pride and patriotism. I thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Iím glad to see how you are able to adjust yourself after you where interrupted in the middle of your submission because I thought you were going to stumble. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Order please. Nothing like this has every happened before in other hearings but clearly the youth have taken over and we just have to submit but thank you very much Mungi. COSAS, I donít know whether that was part of your submission.
MR MASHALABA: We greet the Chairperson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the panelists. We thank the TRC staff as well as the East London Mayor, Mr Luambele Lazo and the Regional Director of Education. We thank you for granting us this opportunity to be here. Thank you. As you know Iím with Lulama Mpahla who is the Junior Mayor of East London but we know him as the General Secretary for COSAS in the Eastern Cape. He is versatile. Iím not going to be long as Iím just going to read a submission on behalf of COSAS. We are not going to be giving our own views but that of COSAS.
Thank you very much for allowing me to participate in this hearing whose aim is to listen to atrocities suffered by young people in this country. Here today I represent giant student organisation, which was formed more that 15 years ago. The history of COSAS is know to you all. It is a pity that we were not afforded enough time to consult with great leaders of this giant movement in putting together itís rich history. I will therefore be brief in history so as to meet the purpose of today.
The Congress of South African Students was formed on the 30th May 1979 as the first non racial student movement. In the same year COSAS adopted the Freedom Charter as the guiding document in the broader South African struggle. This was necessary because as a student we believed that before we are students we are members of the society and therefore we have a role in changing the society. As the students organisation we aimed to build a spirit of friendship between students and to build a spirit of trust between parents, teachers and students and fight for a non racial, free, compulsory and dynamic education.
In the process of building the organisation, COSAS realised the centrality of students and the role they should play in the transformation of the education system. We also saw it important to listen to students from various schools, communities and regions in dealing with education problems. We felt that we should forward the problems as seen by or student members to the education department through our principals.
After a process of prioritising and consolidation of our demands with all students we communicated with them with our principals who always promised to forward them to the Department of Education. After months of waiting we realised that the responses we wanted were not forthcoming. After months of investigation we realised that the principals did not submit our demands to the Department of Education. In those areas where they were submitted the department ignored them. We had to think critically of the ways and means to force the department to respond to our demands.
In the former Ciskei area all our structures were banned in 1983 together with other political organisations before it was banned nationally. COSAS was banned in 1983 in the former Ciskei. Our members were forced to operate under the students councils such as Zwesco, Mdasco and so on. Whilst these problems were prevailing students continued to support their demands and swelled the ranks of COSAS and students councils where COSAS was banned. As the authentic students organisation in the country, students continued to charge us with a heavy mantle of fighting and representing their demands. We reported to students the unwillingness of the department to meet our demands. Parents were sent to negotiate with the department but no one was prepared to talk to them. We did not list everything but however maybe after the Commission the panel can come and ask me what happened. We were left with one option, that of boycotting classes in an attempt to put pressure on the Department and the Government. The Government remained intransigent and responded by sending police and soldiers to our schools.
It was in these struggles where we saw the brutality of the regime. Hundreds of our students were detained and tortured and others severely beaten. You can see the scars of sjamboks on their faces. Even today others are semi and permanently disabled because of the bullet wounds they suffered. In other cases some of our fellow students were brutally killed. Here Mr Chairman I think of Andile Matshoba, a COSAS leader who was shot in Mdantsane by the police. Mr Chairman I remember about ten of our members who were drowned by the Ciskei police in the Buffalo River in Zwelitsha.
This unjust education system resulted in many of our fellow students leaving school to join the work force and others leaving the country to join the liberation movement in exile. The culture of learning and teaching was reduced to non-existence by the regime. Most of our teachers were transferred to other areas and those students who were arrested during boycotts were refused admission in most South African schools. In places like Ciskei they were detained and deported to their hometowns, some of them are SATU secretaries. The above scenario Mr Chairperson, reveals one thing and that is as young people in this country we never had peace. The absence of educational and restrictional facilities in our schools and communities affected our academic achievements and growth development as young people. We jumped some stages of childhood into adulthood and in the process we lost our identities. We left school without the necessary qualifications as demanded by the employment market.
On the other hand the violence that we have witnessed in our country is responsible for the loss of tenants of control in our country today. The young people are the victims of that unjust system. They continue to be victims because there is no visible change. The demands we fought for have not been addressed even today. There is still no conducive learning environment. Entry requirements to institutions of higher learning are still problematic for young people from historical disadvantaged communities.
It is our belief even in this time that our cause for which we fought was a noble one. We wanted to fight a system of education in an unjust society. We had to fight the society because it was not possible to have a better system of education in an unjust society. We are the victims of a struggle against education and the National Democratic Revolution in general. The atrocities we suffered cannot be over emphasised.
Since our struggles were not aimed to fulfil our dreams as individuals but as South African citizens. Mr Chairperson, the TRC was opened to people as individuals. It is therefore our understanding that the individual victims have approached the TRC to present their cases. We promise to assist in bringing forward those individuals who have not made statements to the TRC.
One more, thank you very much for the opportunity you afforded us to present our case. I would like to further conclude by saying, us as activists in these struggles are responsible for some of the things we experienced. We were not passive bystanders but rather acted with the naiveness of youth and had no way of knowing how the Government of the day would retaliate. Should this TRC Council suggest ways for us to assist them in our above recommendations, we will consider them. Thank you Mr Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen.
REV FINCA: We are trying to bring this hearing to an end and we still have 3 submissions still to come so could we ask the people who are still remaining to please summarise because we are hoping to close at about 2p.m. Could we call for the Inter-Church Youth to make itís submission.
_____________ : Thank you Mr Chairperson. Next to me is Reverend Mkungo who is a Management Committee member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Council of Churches, Mr Albert Wittles who is a staff member in the same organisation. Some people might question the youngness of the youth here. Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.
In 1985 a church youth movement was established as a response to the political situation within the country which was very abnormal. The youth of the church thought that they could not be silent as the church itself was not visible enough. Since the formation of the ICY which is the Inter-Church Youth it was clear that they were not to be submissive to the forces that be. Some of us will remember that we had slogans relating to the church. Basically we can now confess that many of us were part of the mass democratic movement to ensure the country was ungovernable. Those who worked for the Government called us true ANC in prayer. The Archbishop and some church leaders were called that and truthfully we are not apologetic at all. Some church leaders who were not allowing us to be part of this struggle. We held gatherings in our churches as people will remember we not allowed to gather in halls but we as the Inter-Church Youth could say something to our clergy people. In some instances we forced ourselves into the churches because we believed that the churches belonged to the people. All this did not go without disruptions. You might remember that in those days the police had no respect for the church at all. They had no respect for church property, they had no respect for the clergy and the had no respect for the church people, safe to say they had no respect for funerals. Teargas was the order of the day but we didnít stop, we launched campaigns. Some of you might remember the church side of the struggle, bringing the youth closer to the church and the church closer to the youth. This was an attempt which was deliberate to attempt to make the church conscious about the signs of the times and that we were on the verge of liberation but we needed the church to respond positively.
Most of our activities were unraveled and harassment of our leadership began, tortures, detentions and there was this thing, detention without trial as well as the state of emergency. We kept on pleading with the wider church youth to join us in the struggle because the problem was whether you were saved and we were saying to them, if the state of emergency is declared we will not choose somebody who is saved or not. If you were under the stress of teargas you would be affected. Part of the harassment I must say came from the side of some of the churches who influenced our young people not to be part of the mass democratic movement but instead they were to be saved.
In times when we were organising rallies and workshops and the likes, they would organise camps and conferences of their own which would run simultaneously so that the whole process could be disrupted. They were funded very well but we had nothing in hand. P.A. systems and the likes were bought and we were told to be "Happy Clappies" and forget about the struggle.
The ICY became more vigilant and we are thankful to the SACC leadership who was a source of inspiration in their efforts of empowering us. On the contrary other church leaders were close to being appalling and today most of the young people, I mean those days, most of the young people decided to leave the church because they had lost hope and confidence in the church and they decided to go into exile. They literally disowned the church and even today that is the case. We need to reinstall that hope and confidence. This past week we met in Burgersdorp to do what we call a reconciliation service where we were going to cleanse ourselves of the past deeds. Weíd slaughter a goat and cleanse ourselves with the blood that is shed, in a symbolic sense weíd ourselves of the wrong deeds, even if they were justifiable, all the wrongs that we have done even if they were justifiable. The following were acknowledged:
We want to say we believe that 70 to 80 percent of the young people who died during the period of the period of the struggle, most of them were church going youth or were young people who believed in Christ or who were baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as it were. There people were all disappointed by the church. We are here to say that we take full responsibility for any human rights violations committed by our members. To families who perhaps had no idea that ICY members were involved we are unjustifiably apologising to you all.
There is the other side of the coin Mr Chairperson, we on our side were violated brutally and we therefore plead with those who were involved in violating our own rights whether they were actively involved or otherwise, to humble themselves and confess to those who suffered in the atrocities of the past. Mr Chairperson Sir, we are saying we were mostly wronged but we are prepared to forgive people if they come and tell us what they have done. Surely this hall here today is full of those people who were mostly sinned against but where are those people that were involved in the atrocities. If they can come to us and tell us what they have done and start owning up the process but instead what we are finding in this country is that those who were involved in the process of violating other peopleís human rights are starting to disassociate themselves with the acts of terror and those people do that publicly because they are political figures and they say they were not involved but on the other hand they call themselves committed Christians who are committed to nation building. We question that.
Coming forward here with a submission as the sinned against group is an explanation of what type of people we are as Black people, we are notoriously forgiving and up against what the missionaries have been saying in statements that are written down in books, implied that we are a non religious community. I want to say that we are more religious than many a nation. It is because we are notoriously religious that we are notoriously forgiving, so said Dr Willy Mazamisa.
In conclusion I want to say again that we are more than just religious, we are a peace loving people and if the Bible says blessed are the peacemakers, we might have had so many blessings if and only if these people will come forward. The people we want to make peace with are not coming to tell us what they have done so that at least we can forgive them. Please people, we need to be blessed by God for the peace but they are deciding to run away. They are not just running away with themselves but they are running away with our long overdue blessings. We want our blessing please, people we urge you to bring back our blessings. I thank you Mr Chairman.
MR KREELING: I greet you all in the name of Jesus. My name is Joseph Kreeling and Iím speaking on behalf of the Buffalo Flats Youth Forum. I greet Mr Chairman, the panel, all the dignitaries and everyone present here. We the Buffalo Flats Youth Forum believe the youth in society represents our future. We form the foundation of the New South Africa. Our experience has caused us to become the victims of a society whose objectives historically have caused us to discriminate against exploited and abused. All mentioned is synonymous to victimisation. We grew up hating society, especially the justice system, law upholding citizens and institutions and in retaliation we have victimised others. Our past has influenced our present, having to grow up in an oppressed environment when it formed. us.
We seek from society empowerment, the ability to put the past aside and build the future together as one nation. That is the vision of the Buffalo Flats Youth Forum, uniting the youth. We are here today to appeal to the youth of the future stating, you are not alone. I add Mr Chair, our appeal is for us to unite and to embrace a fresh vision. We encourage the youth to work together towards peace and prosperity so that the generation behind us find us faithful and the youth can inherit spiritual qualities and values and they can be proud to start off where we left. Our appeal is, let us live together today as if to-morrow does not exist, not in artificial love but in a ... love and harmony. Above all, life is precious letís handle it with prayer and sensitivity to other individualís rights. Our dream is to be free yes, as citizens but also free from the spiritual evils that apartheid has implanted in our hearts. Let us allow the truth to reconcile us to God and forgive each other from past hurts and move on. God bless you all as you strive for peace and healing in our country. I thank you Mr Chair, God bless you.
_______________ : Thank you Chairperson. I greet Bishop Tutu and the fellow Commissioners and I greet the youth that is here today as well as parents. In 1985 at Potsdam there is a day which we will not forget because the police of the previous Government, this is the Ciskei Government killed our leaders as we were students. Two of the leaders were killed when they fell into a valley and when you are standing at the top youíll see a person at the bottom seeming very small. Comrade Damile Potwana was among those who were killed. They left this world because they were thrown down. After that incident, in 1992, Iím going to very brief, in 1992 the police opened a police station in Potsdam where they were torturing the youth. The police would take you and sometimes ask you to slap a parent through the face. As the youth of Potsdam, we ask that the police that were deployed to Potsdam in 1985 and those who killed our leaders as the youth, come forward before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Secondly, we also request that the Commission as the youth in 1992 because of the circumstances in which we were under the ANC, we marched to a hall which belonged to us but was filled with police under Brigadier Ghozo. He was totally against the youth especially the youth under the ANC. Under Section 43 we were not allowed to gather in meetings. We fought against Section 43 and we won and told the police that we wanted the hall because it belonged to the community so that the youth can entertain themselves in it. On top of that we were harassed by the police.
The Potsdam police had the perception that a youth member going to Potsdam to lay charges the police would say that they were chased away from Potsdam therefore they presently cannot help us. We did not do that, we just wanted our hall to hold meetings. If the Commission can please help us because we need policemen in Potsdam. I request that the Commission extend itís time so that perpetrators can come forward to confess. We ask that the Commission looks closely at these requests as we need the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to go to Potsdam so that the perpetrators who killed our leaders can come forward. We also need a police station. We trust that the Commission has done itís work even though we would like the perpetrators under the previous regime to come forward and they mustnít be afraid, they must come and confess and tell us who gave them orders. We trust that the Commission will help us especially as the youth because we have been given this opportunity as the Potsdam youth. Thank you Mr Chairperson, even though Iím nervous.
REV FINCA: Your Grace I can count now, thereís one submission remaining. We end where we started. We started with the experiences of youth and we thought that we should end by listening to 1 experience which is going to be shared by Mr Mzimasi Majojo.
MR MAJOJO: Mr Chairperson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, members of the Commission, parents and youth. I also greet the Mayor of East London and everybody else. Iím happy to say that some of us were there when it happened, we saw it happening because we caused it to happen and we are not ashamed to say that. We were part of the process that saw so many things happening where our friends were made to spy on us, where our friends be it girlfriends or boyfriends were forcibly turned to spy on us for the benefit of the monster. We saw it happening when our parents were harassed in order to make us quit the revolution, we saw that happening. We saw many of us being tortured via the helicopter method which Iím not going to go into now suffice to say it is not a wonderful ride let alone that is a helicopter method. It is one of the most painful experiences in oneís life. We saw these things happening but we were not going to take a step backwards because we had a number of reasons.
We are thankfully to the African National Congress for producing what was then called "Radio Freedom" to show us the way, to tell us more and more about our situation and how to move forward to our future. We are thankful to our parents for being so tolerant with us despite the tensions that were there between us as the youth, as they young people and our parents because they feared for our future, they feared for our education but they supported whatever we were doing. We are thankful today that they have been with us right through this dark period.
Iím not going to make any submission today suffice to ask the Commission to very, very seriously consider facilitating or cause to be facilitated, an audit of the young people who were victims of the apartheid system. We are saying this particularly for those who are still surviving, those today who cannot hear despite the fact that they have ears, they cannot see though they have eyes, they cannot do anything despite that the blood is still running in their bodies. What we are saying to the Commission is to please take an audit of these young people who were victims of the apartheid system so that their role can be recognised and for them to feel that their sacrifice was not in vain. We are appealing for that audit to be done so that those people can have something to do in the current situation of in the present democracy in our country. Whether these names will be taken to a multi purpose youth centre where training and re-orientation of their lives would be done preparing them for their future so that they can lead normal lives despite their handicaps caused by the apartheid regime. This is what we would like to see happening today for these people so that they can see that they are taken care of.
We want to appeal to our young people not to allow anybody to feel pity for them, not to allow anybody to feel mercy for them because we are not here to ask for pity, we are not here to ask for mercy we are here to build our future. Our appeal to our young people is for them to equip themselves with knowledge. We believe that knowledge is the power, knowledge is the key and knowledge is the conqueror therefore let us all go out and equip ourselves with knowledge through education, through training, through whatever method that will make it worth living in this world of ours. I thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much to all of those who have honoured us and enriched us by the submissions that they have made. We will have noted the specific recommendations and suggestions which we will want to consider very seriously as a Commission as we enter into the period of beginning to draft the report that we will be giving to the President in March of next year. Thank you very much for taking all that trouble. Thank you, all of you who come especially from the different schools. Thank you for the music that was provided by some of you, we are enormously grateful to you for that. Thank you to the Imbongi for enlivening the proceedings. Thank you Professor David and all your beautiful traditional music. Thank you to my fellow panelists and the staff of the TRC. We are enormously grateful to those providing security, the police and thank you to the translators and the person providing us with our equipment. Have I left our anybody? Is there anybody who feels left out? I thought, and thank you to the parents who have made the children possible and now I think I should ask you to give a very warm hand to all of those people including yourselves.