Human Rights Violation Hearing

Starting Date 19 November 1996
Location BISHO
Names M. BLOM
Original File


MR POTGIETER: Thank you very much, we will go to Mr Blom. I hand over to Mapule. Thank you.


DR RAMASHALA: Much has been said about the so-called Bisho Massacre. I would like you to briefly talk about it from your perspective and describe what you think happened, and then talk about the impact of the injuries on you and your life. Go ahead Sir.

MR BLOM: What happened is this. We went to Bisho. We met with the people who were demonstrating. We followed them. While I was at the stadium, as I was prepared to go down the stairs I heard the gunshots. One person said lie down. We went down the stairs rolling and they were just firing the bullets. We went on. There was a white car that was parked down there we, the others were under the car, those who were under the car were shot at and we realised that we were not safe next to that car. There was a blue and white combi. We tried to get inside that combi. While I went in through the sliding door a lot of people were there. I tried to force myself in. I was shot on my right hand. I just saw blood as we were pushing there with the other people trying to get inside the combi. The driver was there but he was not the owner of the car and he didn't even have the keys. he was just sitting next to the steering wheel because he was not the owner of the car.

It was quiet for some time. There was a van who was collecting all the people who were injured. One of the people who were injured jumped the van. I also decided to go there to that bakkie. We continued collecting the people who were injured with this van. We went to the hospital at King Williamstown. We were treated there for injuries. I



asked a question where are we going, how are we going to find our way home. They said each and every person must go to the nearest hospital. Then I went to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital. When I asked the doctors how were they going to remove the bullet, they said this bullet is in a very delicate part of my body, they won't be able to remove it.

I left the hospital. I went to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital. Even the doctors there told me that I must just leave this bullet, there is no way that it could be removed. I was admitted there and the people used to visit us. Though I could walk I stayed in hospital.

On my second day in hospital the soldiers came. It was during the night. They asked for permission from the nurses that they would like to see their people who are in hospital. The nurses said there are no soldiers here. And then the soldiers left. We had to be removed from those wards so that when the soldiers come back again they wouldn't find us. We had to change the place. The only people who would know were the residents because they could identify us. I was in hospital for three days. I was discharged on the third day.

DR RAMASHALA: I know this may be difficult to recall particularly because of the confusion that day. Can you remember if the bullet or bullets that hit you came from the back, the front or the side when you are facing the stadium?

MR BLOM: Because I was standing up I think it came from the side because I was holding the sliding door trying to force my way in. I think it came from the side.

DR RAMASHALA: The side where there was an opening? Remember there is a description of a fence which had been trampled down, is that the side from which the bullet came?



MR BLOM: I am not sure but what I know the fence was trampled down when we got in. There was an opening already when we went out.

DR RAMASHALA: Much has been said about the possibility that some of these bullets came from above what is ...(indistinct)

MR BLOM: That is why I say I am not sure where did the bullet come from because I was forcing my way to the combi.

DR RAMASHALA: Did any of the marchers have any ammunition or firearms on them?

MR BLOM: I don't think so because I didn't see anyone carrying a gun.

DR RAMASHALA: Let's come back specific to you. Did you get any assistance from attorneys?

MR BLOM: No, not at all.

DR RAMASHALA: In your statement you said you sustained injury to your right arm, how are you coping with that arm, I understand that you are a driver, how are you coping with that injury?

MR BLOM: It is not working properly, even the left arm also when the weather is changing even my arms are affected.

DR RAMASHALA: Mr Blom what is your request from the Commission?

MR BLOM: My request is to get the assistance from the Commission as I cannot work for myself because I cannot do some of the things that I used to do before.

DR RAMASHALA: By the way how old were you when this happened?

MR BLOM: I cannot remember but I was born in 1958.

DR RAMASHALA: Had you finished school by then?

MR BLOM: No I was not at school at the time. I left



school in 1977.

DR RAMASHALA: Thank you very much.

MR POTGIETER: Thank you Dr Ramashala. Are there any questions? Ntsiki?

MR SANDI: Thank you Chairperson. All of you as witnesses who had already said something this morning, I know that Mr Gqozo will be here today giving us his side of the story, do you have perhaps any questions as victims that you wish us to ask Mr Gqozo?

MR BLOM: Yes, because till today we don't know the reason of that. If he can tell us the reason why he was shooting us we would be happier.

MR POTGIETER: Thank you. Order please thank you.

MR SANDI: For the last time I want to ask Mrs Chumgwa. Mrs Chumgwa who said this shooting of the Bisho people will happen again, who said so?

MS CHUMGWA: It was a person who was announcing in the radio. The people said it was Mr Gqozo. It was the person who was talking through the radio. I am not sure whether it was Gqozo because he said if the ANC is following him he was prepared to do it again. I was listening to the radio when I heard such news.


MR SANDI: You say this person announced this he sounded like Mr Gqozo?

MR POTGIETER: Can I please ask your cooperation. I have raised this this morning. It is impossible to get the work done. There is a lot of work. There are many cases on this role today that we must get through before the end of the day and if we are interrupted from time-to-time we are not going to be able to do that. There is going to be testimony EAST LONDON HEARING TRC/EASTERN CAPE


throughout the day that will more than likely be controversial from some people's point of view, and I must repeat the request please allow people to give their testimony without interruption because if you interrupt you interfere in the process. You somehow hamper the witness in giving a full account. So please we would want to count on your cooperation otherwise it's going to be a very, very long day. Thank you.

MR SANDI: Thank you Chairperson for protecting me and the witness. Ms Chumgwa do you mean that among the questions that we should ask him is what he actually meant when he said that?

MS CHUMGWA: Yes I would be satisfied.

MR POTGIETER: Thank you very much. I want to thank you for having come. Mrs Chumgwa you have lost a son, you have lost a loved one in the incident. The rest of you Ms Hlekani, Mr Duda, Mr Blom you have been personally present there, you at least have survived to tell the story to us today, you still bear the marks of what happened there on the day, fortunately you are with us today, and you can also enjoy some of the fruits of the struggle that people went through to come to where we are today. Mrs Chumgwa unfortunately has lost a son in that process but that is the kind of price, it reminds us of the high price that we had to pay to get to where we are. But thank you for coming. We have noted your testimony. We have noted all of your requests and we are grateful that you have actually come and share your testimony with us today. Thank you very much.



REV FINCA: I wish to announce that we are going to be breaking for tea and we are asking Commissioners to take their seats at 11 o'clock sharp, and people to take their seats at five to 11. We are going to be taking the most sensitive part of this hearing where we are going to allow Brigadier Gqozo to come to the hall and give his testimony. Order please, I think this is very important.

I wish to make an appeal. I come from this area, I know how sensitive the part that we are entering now in this hearing is. I know how strongly people feel about it. But I wish to make an appeal that for our work as the Commission to take place in a dignified manner we will appeal for maximum order and maximum restraint from the crowd that is here in this hall. You will not be doing that for Brigadier Gqozo, but you will be doing that for the Commission. You will be doing that for all the people of South Africa who want to see this process happen in a dignified and orderly manner.