Human Rights Violation Hearing

Starting Date 18 April 1996
Day 4
Case Number EC0036/96
Original File

DR BORAINE: We invite Mrs Ntsomikazi Evelyn Mata to the stand please. Good morning, you are Mrs Mata? You are very welcome.


DR BORAINE: Mrs Mata, we have already heard that in the last 30 years there has been a great deal of conflict in South Africa. Some of it coming from the state, some of it coming from resistance movements, but tragically there's also been differences between organisations and the story you're going to tell today has something to do with that. You have waited a very long time to tell this story. The incident that you will talk about happened in 1985. We hope that in the telling of this story, you will be comforted and that you will also be helped. In leading the evidence, we have Mr Tsiki Sandi and he will assist you to tell the story that's in your heart. Thank you.

MR SANDI: Perhaps I should start off by explaining to the panel that initially Sindile Mata the son who's sitting next to Mrs Mata was going to testify here but that had to be changed because Mrs Mata is now available. She was not going to be available at first.

Mrs Mata, in the explanation, you know you will be adding to what your son Sindile has already said. You said Thembisile your son was injured on the 26th of July 1985, is that so?




MR SANDI: Can you just briefly tell us what was Thembisile doing? What was he doing in his life?

MRS MATA: Thembisile was studying here at Queenstown and he went to Port Alfred to study there. Well I received a telephone call one afternoon at work and I was told to be at Port Alfred very urgently, something terrible had happened. It was Thembisile and Moja, his friend.

We left from work, we went to the location and we were taken there by the teacher Mr Makupula by a van. He took us to Port Alfred. When we reached Port Alfred, we found a gentleman who was at BAB. He said to me, "Mrs Mata, something terrible has happened. It was terrible here at Port Alfred. We report the people who are dead now".

We went with Mr Makupula from Port Alfred to the police station. The police led us to the scene of the funeral. We found the people there. When we arrived here we were asked if we would like to see the victims and we agreed to that. We were taken by Mrs Andoni, Moja's mother, to where the bodies were. When we reached this place, there was a small house in which we were accommodated and then this house was opened and we were shown the bodies.

When we saw the bodies I was unable to control myself. I was hurt because they were pitch black and you couldn't identify them as their faces were unrecognisable but he removed the cover, he was dried out, his knees were fixed together, then one of my sons said to me, "I didn't want to come and identify the bodies". Then we went with Mr Makupula to the location where Thembisile was working. At his place of employment we were given his belongings and then we went back home to Grahamstown.



When we reached there the teacher who accompanied us was staying at K Street. My husband was ill at the time, and when Mr Makupula came in, you know I strengthened myself and tried to be as brave as possible because I didn't want to make my husband realise that there was something terrible, but the tears just dropped from my eyes. Mr Mata was told to come and listen to what has happened. He was given the report back about the bad tidings. It was mentioned that they were no longer alive. He was shocked to learn about this. It was on a Wednesday and this happened the night before.

At Port Alfred we had arranged some of the things with the undertakers. We had already got the coffins so that the funeral arrangements can go on undisturbed. When we reached our destination in Grahamstown we went to the place of employment, we were asked what we were going to do. We told them that we have already made funeral arrangements. Our manager Mrs Rodment said to us, they learned at Port Alfred the dead children would be escorted here. We agreed to the fact that they should be transported to their places. It was said they should not be kept for a long time because they were already damaged.

The funeral took place on a Saturday. Thembisile and Moja were buried on the same day. They were different denominations Etheopean and the Methodist.

MR SANDI: Can I ask, was Moja attending school with his nephew?

MRS MATA: Yes, this child was at Grahamstown and the mother was a teacher at Shawbury. The child had visited Port Alfred but he was not attending school there.

MR SANDI: Is it true that Moja and your son were friends?




MR SANDI: Moja had visited his friend your son?

MRS MATA: Yes it is so.

MR SANDI: As you know Mrs Mata, when something has happened, especially a very terrible thing, there are people who always give an account of what has taken place and there are varied stories giving you differing information.

MRS MATA: Yes it is so.

MR SANDI: When you listened to this as parents, what information did you get about the details?

MRS MATA: It was reported that there was a meeting which was held and all the members were there. I realised that during the meeting there was a difference of opinion between Moja and Thembisile and then they went out.

MR SANDI: In other words you want to say that there was a difference of opinion when the people were discussing something?

MRS MATA: Yes it is so.

MR SANDI: This difference, was it related to organisations or what was it related to? Or do you think it was a difference of opinions because we are individuals?

MRS MATA: I believe that was a difference and a fight between the two organisations.

MR SANDI: Who gave you this information?

MRS MATA: We got this information from the community of Port Alfred.

MR SANDI: Was there any legal investigation? Or were any statements given to the police after that or was a case held?

MRS MATA: Yes there was a case held, because during the time that we went to Port Alfred it was said that there is,



I cannot remember who was found, but it was said that somebody was found living, and this person was arrested.

When we went to the police station there was somebody who was unable to look at us, but I didn't want to see this person, because he was shielding himself, and it was said that that person was present at the struggle which had taken place.

MR SANDI: Who told you this?

MRS MATA: The people who came here frequently.

MRS MATA: In other words, do you think it was a policeman or was it just a person there?

MRS MATA: No it was just somebody who was just there, he was not a policeman.

MR SANDI: Did this person give you this information as parents?

MRS MATA: Yes. When we were sitting here, because Port Alfred is a bushy area, we saw that through the bushes there were people who were just peeping through, and I said to Mrs Antoni, " Noweto can you see that there are people there among the bushes who are looking directly at us?"

MR SANDI: Did you meet this person who gave you the information there at the police station? Did this person just say they were pointing out the person who was present during the fight?

MRS MATA: No he just told us that information and then he disappeared, we didn't know where they are, he just insisted that the person who was shielding himself was the same person who was there.

MR SANDI: Have you ever seen this person before?

MRS MATA: No, because he was shielding himself, I couldn't see and identify him. He was really making sure that we



couldn't see his face.

MR SANDI: Had the people who heard this, because you sent the child to school and then he got injured as you have explained, then you were expected to make arrangements for the funeral? When you made these funeral arrangements, were there any problems that you encountered.

MRS MATA: Yes we collected money, we did everything that is expected when making arrangements for a funeral.

MR SANDI: Were there any problems that you encountered.


MR SANDI: With whom was he staying where he was accommodated?

MRS MATA: There were two ladies, they were just hiring their house to anybody who needed it.

MR SANDI: Is this a room that they rented inside or outside the premises?

MRS MATA: No they were separate houses. My son was staying alone because there was nobody else that I was shown. This aged woman just said to me that that is where my son was staying.

MR SANDI: You said there was nothing which was.... (end of side A of tape 18)

(side B)....didn't find anything, they said nothing was tangible that a finger could be pointed at but, they were people from Port Alfred.

MR SANDI: One of your children attended?

MRS MATA: No my son was at work. This lady who is next to me is not her.

MR SANDI: Did you go to any attorney?

MRS MATA: No we didn't.

MR SANDI: So you just did this on your own?




MRS MATA: Yes we did. My family went to attend the court, they didn't hear anything that was worth listening to. so we never followed this case up.

MR SANDI: If I understand you well, you request that the Commission should be able to make through investigations to establish exactly what happened to your son? Is that so?

MRS MATA: Yes it is so.

MR SANDI: Do you have anything further that you would like to discuss in connection with this?

MRS MATA: Yes, I would like the Commission should assist me so that we can make something worthy and dignified for Thembisile.

MR SANDI: You say your son was a member of which organisation? Was it the Azanian People's Organisation, AZAPO?

MRS MATA: Yes he was.

MR SANDI: Did they come to you after this terrible incident? Did you ask AZAPO?


MR SANDI: Did they come to explain what happened to you?

MRS MATA: Yes there were a few young who came after the funeral. They said they'd come to request Thembisile's photo, because they said it was wanted by the senior officials in the organisation. So we said we don't have any photograph.

MR SANDI: When was this?

MRS MATA: It was after the funeral.

MR SANDI: What did they want the photo for?

MRS MATA: I cannot say. But they just said it was wanted by the senior officials. I said he didn't have any




MR SANDI: I realise that in your explanation you state that Thembisile has a daughter, Ayanda Ntwisha who is doing standard three?


MR SANDI: Where is she now?

MRS MATA: She's staying with her biological mother, at K Street, but she's attending school at Josa in Grahamstown. At times he just visits us and during vacations he always visits our family.

MR SANDI: Thank you very much Mrs.

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Are there people who would like to ask questions?

DR ORR: I just have one question for you if I might Mrs Mata and that is you said something about wanting something dignified, maybe I haven't understood the interpretation. What did you mean by something dignified for your son, can you explain to me please?

MRS MATA: I didn't understand your question.

DR ORR: When we asked you what you wanted us as a Commission to do for you, the first thing you said is that you wanted something dignified, something special for your son. Can you explain to me a little bit more what that is?

MRS MATA: Yes I can. I should have some money so that I can make a dignified funeral for my child.

DR ORR: Thank you very much.

DR BORAINE: Mrs Mata I want to take you back to the time when you went back to Port Alfred and you say that you, are you alright Mrs Mata?

MRS MATA: I'm also receiving treatment because I was highly affected by what happened at the time.



DR BORAINE: Mrs Mata, can I go on? You told us that your son Thembisile was burned to death in the shack?


DR BORAINE: Was that the actual cause of death?


DR BORAINE: Now you also say that the night before this happened he attended a public meeting. A meeting between two organisations. This was AZAPO and what was the other?

MRS MATA: He was a member of AZAPO. I've forgotten the other one but he was the AZAPO member.

DR BORAINE: And in your statement you have suggested that the other organisation was the UDF?

MRS MATA: Yes it is so. Yes I've forgotten, it was UDF.

DR BORAINE: There was a lot of trouble at the meeting?

MRS MATA: Yes it is so.

DR BORAINE: He was killed. Yes the following day I learned that I must go to Port Alfred because he was dead.

DR BORAINE: Thank you very much.

CHAIRPERSON: Are there any people who would like to ask questions? Mrs Mata we are very thankful that you could come here, we also appreciate what you have done today. We are satisfied about the information that you gave us. We would like to inform you that we are very sympathetic towards you, and would like you to realise that we know about these atrocities. And also we trust that the Commission will be able to assist you and to listen to your plea because you have presented what we'd like to have. Thank you very much.