MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... as yesterday will be given very largely in Zulu, and the earphones which you will find at the bottom end of the hall - and there aren't enough to go round, but those people who are Zulu-speaking will - by and large will not need the earphones because, as I have said, most of the evidence will be given in Zulu. Please do not take the earphones out of the hall. At tea time and lunch time please leave them on your seat, or you may take them with you if you go to the toilet, but you may not take them out of the hall. Please note that they are no use outside the hall, and so please remember to leave them here at the end of the day. They are expensive items of equipment.
We will begin in a couple of minutes with the first witness. We will first attend to lighting of the candle and briefly to greeting of the witnesses. Thank you. I will ask my colleague and fellow Commissioner, Dr Mgojo, to start with a short prayer. Thank you.
MR MGOJO: Let's close our eyes. Father, You are alpha, the beginning. We wish, Lord, that whatever we do here we start by inviting You into our hearts. We do realise that You are also omega, that is the end. When we end this occasion we wish invite You to close it with us. May You please give the witnesses the courage to tell their stories without fear. Give them the strength and the wisdom so that in rendering their testimony they may not be afraid. Lord, we hope that this occasion will not be a complete occasion without inviting You into it. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... Nombulelo and Hawugile Mzolo. They were going to give evidence yesterday, but because we were running late we asked them if they would mind coming this morning to give their evidence, and they are first. If they could please come up to the stage, thank you.
(Inaudible) ... the whole of yesterday, and to come back again today, and again we apologise for not being able to hear your evidence yesterday. You have come to tell us - you have come together to tell us about the burning of your house in 1987, and the abduction of a child. Before you give your evidence I have to ask you to stand, to both stand to take the oath.
MR DLAMINI: So that it will be easy for me to talk to you may I know is Hawugile and who is Nombulelo. You made a joint statement. I would like to speak to you, Hawugile. If there is anything, Nombulelo, that is left out you will just fill in the details, but the main person is Nombulelo (sic). You will be speaking on behalf of the family. Let me just get the background of your family. Do you still have parents? --- Yes, I do have parents. Yes, both of them are still alive, my mother and my father. My mother is at work and my father is at home. They are quite well.
What about the other children at your place who have been listed on the statement, that is Nhlanhla and Zwelakhe? Where are they? --- They have since died. We sympathise with you. Can you please relate to us and tell us how they died? --- Nhlanhla was burnt by his girlfriend. Zwelakhe was injured by another boy.
We know that this is a very painful experience, and at times you may be reminded of the experience. We just wish to commend you on the way that the church in your vicinity has played a very major role in trying to support the families that have been harassed, that have been traumatised. We thank the church for having prayed for you, because that has rendered so much support. I will ask you, Hawugile, to now relate the story as to how the events took place that culminated to all that has happened. --- We started being harassed in August when Thembeka - Ningi, I meant to say Ningi, as well as Thenjizwa, they were attending school and they were being harassed. They were being told that they were members of the UDF. They eventually ran away from home and they went to stay at Gcaluza. Ningi and Thenjizwa are my sisters. They went to stay at another house in Gcaluza at Nhlanhla's in-laws. One day when we were ploughing the field Zwelakhe and Nhlanhla were also with us. Then we saw a crowd of people approaching us and they were chasing some youths, and those youths were believed to be members of the UDF. They came towards us, and at that time the people who were chasing them were having assegais and pangas. And our brothers were also included, were chased together with the group. Then as they went further afield we just heard gunshots. Then we ran towards that direction. When we got there we realised that a youth from the family, Zondi family, had been shot dead. And we came back. We were quite panicky because we kept on getting threats that we were going to be burnt because our brothers were members of the UDF.
You may continue. --- Nhlanhla and Zwelakhe had to run away from home, and they went to stay at Mthlizane. When they got there there was nobody there and they were staying all by themselves. Ultimately they had to come back home. As soon as we came back it all started again. We just couldn't sleep. Inkatha members used to come and we used to hide them underneath the beds, and we used to sit on top of them and hide them beneath so that they may not be seen by the enemies. Each time that happened we used to hide them, and they used to come continuously. We used to put them under the mattress space. Each time they were looking for them we used to do that. And at some stage they had to run away and stay at Gcaluza, where Ningi and Thenjizwa had also been staying. They stayed there for quite some time. We were not very comfortable at home because the Inkatha members used to visit us. Then in September Inkatha people were recruiting people to join them. They were speaking through a loudspeaker, and they kept on telling us that, "Even you, Mzolo family, you must come and join us, because if you don't join us we are going to burn your houses. You are busy supporting Mandela." We were very confused, we didn't know what to do, and we asked ourselves as to what should be done in this situation. We decided that we must join, but we were torn apart. Others said, "We can't join Inkatha," and we were in a state of confusion. At home we were 42, so we were divided in between. And now we didn't know what to do, because there were so many of us we couldn't get another place to stay, so we were forced to join Inkatha. But they always used to come and see because they didn't believe in us as members of Inkatha. On a particular day, that was on the 17th of November, it was on a Tuesday, it was round about 3 o'clock to half past three, Phuphu came to our place. His surname is Ngubane. He came running. They had gone to attack the UDF members just below our place. He came running to our place. He told us that on that particular day they were coming to burn us because the youth of our place they didn't want to join the Inkatha. Nobody answered him. He went away. We stayed and we were devising some means, we were thinking of some plans to combat this. We decided to go and report this to the police. We eventually reported this. We phoned the police. The police told us that they would be coming. We went back home. Round about 6 o'clock to half past six people starting filling in the yard. They came to attack us. They burnt down three houses, including our house. They started from one direction, and the others started on the opposite direction. My sister, Nomonde, was inside the house. Whoever got a chance to run away would run away, but Nomonde was left inside. When she was making an attempt to escape she was actually accosted. She had to go back into the house. Each time she tried to get out her attempts were thwarted. At the end of the day they said she must come out, because if she didn't come out they were going to burn her inside the house. When she ultimately came out she was stabbed, but luckily she survived. On the following day we were quite scattered. Each and every one of us was running into different directions. We went to meet at Latha's place. When we realised that there were some missing, my son Andile was missing, we ran into the road with my sister, Nomphumelelo, as well as my other sister. We stood there at the street just looking around, trying to find out whether we could see my son. We saw policemen and we asked them to give us a lift so that we can go around checking for my son. They did give us a lift. As soon as we got home we looked for my son. We looked in the burnt house, but we just couldn't see Andile. We went around the whole place. We went to the neighbours' places to try and find out whether they had seen him, but we just couldn't get Andile so we went back without getting him. We went to the police to report the matter. The police went, as well as the mother of the child, they went to Mhlongo's place, where it was believed Andile was taken
to. When we got there the police didn't go into the house to search for Andile, they just stood at the gate. They spoke to the people in there, but they never went inside to search for him. We went back home and we went to report the matter to the police. But there's nothing that happened despite the fact that we had reported the matter. They took them to another place, but the matter was being heard at a totally different venue. Then all of a sudden we were told that the matter had been over and dealt with.
Did you ever get anything, any green light as to where the child was? --- I met a certain gentleman and asked him as to why he had taken my son. He said he is not the one, but Mhlabonzima Shange said the child was taken by Bonga Mhlongo.
Thanks very much. We quite sympathise with you that a four-year-old could be abducted in such a manner and there's absolutely no clue as to where he had been taken to. We'll try and make some efforts, but we can't promise
you anything. We'll do whatever is in our power to try and find out as to what happened to your son, whether there's any information, any evidence that we can get that leads us to the recovery of your son. This is a very painful experience, especially where you tried to protect yourselves and join the Inkatha, but even then it just didn't help. I'll hand over to the Chairman.
DR MGOJO: Hawugile and Nombulelo, I just want to ask a little question to clarify a certain matter. Let's just go back to Nhlanhla, who was burnt by his girlfriend. Was this girlfriend a member of a political organisation or not? This girlfriend who burned your brother, was she a member of a political organisation? --- She was a member of the UDF.
Now, according to your opinion, after having sacrificed and joined the Inkatha, trying to protect yourselves as well as your family, why now do those people turn around and attack you after having joined their organisation? Let me just repeat the question. You joined the Inkatha out of fear, because you were fearing for your lives as well as your children's lives. Now, what puzzles me is why would they go out to attack you after having joined their party? What was the reason? What reason? --- It was because our brothers were believed to be UDF members. All of us had joined the UDF, even our brothers. Did they join, but run away at a later stage? ---
In your statement you talked about a child that was abducted by Themba Mhlongo, but in your present testimony you just quoted another name. --- Themba is the father of the boy that abducted the child, but the one who took the child was Bonga.
The loss of your child and the disappearance, didn't this affect you? (Pause) Take your time. (Pause) Sorry, my dear, please take your time. Do you have bad dreams, emotional trauma, physical as well as emotional trauma? Have you ever undergone any treatment to combat this? Have you ever seen any psychologists? --- No, I have never seen any psychologist.
I was asking that because I was concerned. You should be very traumatised and I just wanted to know what type of treatment you are getting. Maybe the Commission could meet you halfway, try to help you get some psychiatric or some psychological help. --- Thank you.
She ought to be sick because the Inkatha members used to come in and threaten us, and they used to say, "Here's your child's arm." Then at times they would come with a bucket and they would say they were spilling water and there was the child's arm inside the bucket. Even Sikisa used to come with the police, and they would take our brothers, they would assault them and make them sing and dance. There's another one who was called Mzo who was also taken, assaulted. When he came back he didn't see, he was partially blind.
Let me just ask you, is Sikisa also involved? --- He was there because he used to come with the soldiers, and he used to take the boys or the youths and drown them in the water. Sikisa's surname is Zuma.
Hawugile, there's just a few matters that I would like to clarify. This thing has touched us. It's very unusual. I want to tell you that the Commission looks at the whole family background, as to how the whole family was affected. You were quite a big family and there were quite a lot of children, and it is apparent that all of you were psychologically as well as physically traumatised. Now, would you please tell us who was traumatised and who needs help. --- All of us.
Another very important factor is you said there were some people who came to tell you that Andile was taken by the Mhlongo family. Can you please help us, tell us who told you? Where do they stay, where are they? Are they still available? --- One of them is a member of Inkatha. He is Sithembiso Khanisa. He had come back to
MR LAX: I wonder if it's possible, Nombulelo, if you could please just explain something for me. When you first spoke you said to us that they took them to a different place for the case, and then to another place. I've got just some questions about that. Who were "they"? Who was taken to court at one place? --- The police put them on the chairs, they made them sit in the chairs outside, whereas the matter was going on inside. The case was going on inside the court whilst they were sitting outside. Then when they got out they were told that they were only witnesses and the case had been dealt with. They were given R4,00 each.
(Inaudible) ... court, that is corner of Pietermaritz and Commercial Road, the old court. --- It was here in Pietermaritzburg. Can you remember when that case was, what the date was, or which month it was, or what year? --- I don't
Hawugile, I just have a question with regard to your family. You said there was Ningi as well as Thenjizwa who were still attending school at that time. What happened to them? --- Ningi is just at home. She never went back to school. Thenjizwa is married. She is married.
Who is working at home in your family of 42? --- There's only one person who's working, and he is working only two days. It's a temporary position. Nomphumelelo is working, and the other one is on pension. Philemon is on pension.
MR LYSTER: Thank you very much for having waited patiently yesterday, and for giving your evidence today. We extend our deep sympathy to you. It's clear to us all that you have both, and other members of your family, have been traumatised by this terrible incident. We can only imagine the sadness which you as a mother must experience not knowing where your son is, whether he is alive or not, and we hope that it is of some comfort to you that you can sit there together on the stage as sisters telling us your story. We will do everything possible to try and find out what happened to your son, and we will follow up the leads and evidence that you have given us. Thank you again very much for coming, and we wish you strength.
MR LYSTER: The evidence of the next two witnesses relates to one of the most terrible events in the mid-1980s, and it is an event which gave rise to a prolonged period of violence and intimidation in the Mpophomeni area to the north of Pietermaritzburg. If Mr Ndlela could please come up onto the stage. For the benefit of those people who were not here yesterday, in his evidence yesterday Professor John Aitchison talked about this period of violence and unrest in Mpophomeni, and I will briefly just recap his evidence.
The local spark for conflict was the strike at the British tyre and rubber factory, Sarmcol in Howick, that started on the 30th April 1985. The strike took place because of the company's refusal to recognise the trade union. The entire African workforce was dismissed and a successful stay-away in Pietermaritzburg took place on 18th July 1985, and the stay-away was followed by a consumer boycott of white-owned shops in Pietermaritzburg. The boycott was denounced by Inkatha, and this led to the bussing in, the sending in by buses of a 200-strong Inkatha group into Mpophomeni township, which is the home of the Sarmcol strikers. This took place on the evening of 5th December 1986. They abducted four COSATU officials and members in Mpophomeni township, assaulted them, and executed three of them, whilst one of them managed to escape. The Inkatha group was then escorted out of the township by the police. Within a day or two at least three of the perpetrators were arrested after a professional investigation by the Howick detective branch, but very soon after this their release was ordered by a high-ranking police officer, Security Police officer, in Pietermaritzburg. An inquest into the deaths took place in March 1988, and nine Inkatha members were named as having been the perpetrators, yet they have still not been prosecuted.
Today we welcome one of the people who was residing in Mpophomeni township at that time, Mr Moses Ndlela, and he will give us some brief background as to that dispute. Mr Ndlela, can you stand while you take the oath please.
DR MGOJO: Good morning, Moses. We welcome you to this Commission. You are here to give your testimony about what happened to you. Your name here is Moses, and what about this Umkhleku? --- Since I was a child they used to give me this nickname as Umkhleku. That's how it happened.
You were working at Sarmcol? --- Yes, I was working at Sarmcol. I was an operator. There was a new machine which was used to make belts, mine belts. Those belts were called steel cords. So I was the operator of that machine.
When these strikes started where were you? --- When this started I didn't belong to any organisation except that I belonged to MAWU, because MAWU was a union for workers. Would you please tell us more about your family? --- Yes. My mother is a daughter of Mr Zuma from Impendhle, and my father was born at Howick. From my mother's family we are six boys and two girls, and two girls died while they were still young. As times go on three of - I lost three of my brothers, and the only remaining now it's three guys and five girls.
What about your own family? --- I got married to an Ndlovu lady, and after the strike she wasn't well. She wasn't okay in her mentally and she just didn't cope. I think maybe it was because of the situation, the strikes and the boycotts, everything. Lots of things disturbed her. Maybe some of the things were because I was being tortured. And then I was forced to marry another woman. I have two wives now.
You remember in 1985 at Sarmcol it was quiet, and then in 1986 problems started. There were strikes. Would you please explain more to us about the strikes. --- Before 1985 it was okay there, it was quiet. We used to work nicely. In 1985 our union, MAWU, negotiated with our employers. Our employers accepted that MAWU will take stop orders from our salaries, and then later in 1985 we had grievances that we needed to send to our employers. And then our employers didn't want to accept that we have those grievances, and they didn't want to pay attention to our needs, so we started showing them that we needed them to pay attention to our grievances. We called unions, we tried to negotiate, and the employers didn't want to pay attention. And then we decided that we're going to sit-in, we're going to embark on the sit-in, and then the employers decided to close the gates. It was in 1985. Do you remember the month? --- No, I can't remember the month. I am not sure whether it was May or April. I am not quite sure. I was very surprised the following morning when I went to work and they had actually made out a lock-out and people were locked outside. I looked around because our firm is a little bit further down in the south, and then when I looked up I saw soldiers who were called. They had guns and we were being watched over. Then thereafter we were told that all those who had been working and getting their salaries over the week are now being chased away, they are being expelled. They can go and get their money at Ndabazabantu. And one of the leaders of the union came to address us. He told us that we're not supposed to take any money, we were going to arrange means by which we were going to get our salaries because we were still at the negotiation stage. From there we went back home. So we made a resolution. We said that we didn't want - it wasn't a fact of not wanting to work at the firm, but we had grievances that we needed to be addressed, so we wanted the firm to change its ways. At ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 1)
What made you agree with that arrangement? --- What made us agree was the fact that even if we didn't agree it was going to be a 1976 riot situation, because we saw soldiers there, they were milling around, and they were going to do something to us. We were not going to survive.
What type of soldiers were they? There are so many types of soldiers that we get. What sort was there? --- It was white soldiers. They were wearing the soldiers' attire, combat. We assembled at a certain hall, but there was also a problem there because we were ordered to go out. We were ordered to vacate the hall and we were told never ever to assemble at that hall again.
Where was that hall? --- It was at the location where we stay, that is at Mpophomeni. From there we went to a Catholic church, where we assembled once more. Then on a particular day - there were certain occurrences that took place. People were being harassed. On a particular year we were sprayed with tear gas, and quite a number of things happened that indicated to us that something was going to happen to us. There was quite a number of occurrences. I don't remember some. When we were still in a meeting - that meeting was going to be an Inkatha meeting, so as workers we didn't have anything to do with Inkatha. Our meeting was specifically designed to sort out our problems, our work problems. We had absolutely nothing to do with the Inkatha group.
The Catholic church helped you, they offered their church for you to conduct meetings there. Do you know the reverend of that particular church? --- I have forgotten what his name is. It was heard that there was going to be a meeting. We didn't pay particular attention to that Inkatha meeting because we told ourselves it was our right to conduct a meeting if we wanted to, but what actually disturbed us was - it was in 1986 when we heard
the location. They were busy assaulting people, stabbing them, harassing them, and one gentleman died. I have forgotten what his name is. Then thereafter there was rumour that the very same people had killed my brother. There was also my sister's daughter, as well as my brother, Mike Ngubane, who had been killed. We were told that they were burnt, and they came back to assault people in the location. Now we were asking ourselves as to what was happening.
Who had killed them? --- I cannot exactly say who it was, but it was rumoured that it was Inkatha, because they were the ones who were marching on the particular day that these people died. They were even identified by the flag that they were having, an Inkatha flag, where they were told that they had to move away from that particular location because that place was not for Indians.
Are these Phineas Sibiya, Simon Ngubane, Ray Mahathi, Alpheus Nkabinde? --- Nkabinde is the gentleman who was killed the following day during the march at the location. The other ones were taken in the evening and they went to burn them in the evening. Marcus was also there, but he survived because he ran away.
Did you report this matter to the police? --- Let me just say this because I was there. Let me just tell you because I was also present. There was a certain person who went around shooting people. He was driving a car. The people in the location now decided to assemble
and protect themselves. These people went back into the hall. When they came back to the hall they discovered that there were police, and they told the police that these people had already killed people outside, but the police didn't take any cognisance of that, they did absolutely nothing. Instead they chased these members who came to report and they pointed them with guns. They protected the people who had actually killed the others.
Now, what you want to say is the attackers were working hand in hand with the police. --- That's my suspicion, because that's exactly what happened. The police were in collusion with the attackers. I expect that if you commit a crime you must be arrested, not protected.
Now, where did these people come from? Were they from Mpophomeni? --- I wasn't really sure as to where they came from, but after this occurrence some of the people moved away from the location. That is when I realised that these people were members of Inkatha, because some of them went out of the location.
In your statement you said some people who were attacking were coming from the chiefs' places. --- That's another occurrence that took place on a totally different day. That disturbed me quite terribly. Our location is quite further down in the south, and further up there are chiefs' places. At the location there was so much violence, and there would be a police Casspir or police van that was standing right there at the top looking down and guarding the people at the south. And now at some stage we just saw a crowd of people coming down towards us, coming to attack us. They were from the
Now, this violence affected you. Just tell us what happened to you in 1990. --- We just saw people coming towards us at the location, and at some stage they had come to kill another neighbour. Now, we decided to go out and look as to what was happening. We met them along the - just next to the Catholic church, and they were busy shooting. They were shooting the people living in the surroundings of the church. There ensued a fight, and the police from the top in a Hippo came down to this particular area where there was a fight. Now, the people decided they didn't want to run because they believed that the police would help us. I was one of the people who stood there who was very stubborn, and I told myself that I wasn't going to run away. When the police came in a Hippo a miracle happened. They didn't even talk to us. They left the people who were coming to attack alone. They shot the ordinary civilians. And I was one of the people shot. I could not run past them because they had already started shooting and some people were dying. We hid just behind the Roman Catholic church. As we were hiding there they kept on shooting the people. Apparently they had seen us when we were hiding.
Did you see the policeman who shot you? --- I saw him, but I cannot point him out. It was a white person. Both of them were white. They shot all the other people and then proceeded to come to us. When they came back they came from different directions. Both of them
were having guns. Unfortunately the person I was hiding with tried to run. Then the policeman shot him and he fell and died. I spoke to this other policeman, I told him, "Please don't kill me." He asked me what is it that I was looking for. I told him that we had come to protect the community. Then he said to me I must run very fast. I ran very fast. I don't know whether I was lucky. He left me to run for a distance then he started shooting me. Maybe when I talked to him he sympathised with me.
Were there any bullets in your body? --- I had bullets all over my body, and some are left inside because they are in such delicate areas which cannot be tampered with. I was given injections but the bullets were not taken out.
DR MAGWAZA: I just want to make a follow up. What is it that's wrong with your wife exactly? --- I think she is mentally unstable. She is behaving in a very funny manner. She is not behaving as other people behave. She is having a problem, a real problem.
Now, even when we don't look at what she is doing let's just look at the circumstances that led to her being like this so we may get work. --- I think my losing the job affected her quite drastically because I could no longer support them. All the harassment that took place was from the strike that we had at Sarmcol, but it ended up affecting our lives, so much so that it became part of our lives. And one other thing was that the perpetrators were busy harassing people.
What I would like to know is was there any change in your family that took place, apparent change? Now, if you have any expectations - maybe had this not happened you feel you would have been somewhere else. Where do you imagine yourself to be, or what are your expectations from the Commission? --- My wish is that - I wish the Commission to help the people of Mpophomeni who were harassed during the Sarmcol strike. There are so many people who were affected. When we were - at that time we were 1 000, but now due to the deaths that are taking place I think there's about 300 people who are left now. We didn't say we didn't want to work, but we just wanted our grievances to be addressed. I want the Commission to
conduct a thorough search and find out as to why these people were being chased away, and we want to be paid back our monies that we lost at that time we were working there. We were very much willing to work and we want to be able to support our families.
Your request or your expectation is quite genuine. What we want to tell you as the Commission is that we take all the requests, we pass the recommendations to the President and the Parliament. They are the ones who actually draw conclusions out of the recommendations that we have submitted. --- There are so many people who have been harassed, who have been criminalised, who have been traumatised. Many of them are not working, and even if you do wish to work there's that stigma attached to the strike that took place. I think it's the firm, Sarmcol, that has done this to us.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... much for giving us, first, that background to the killing of Phineas Sibiya and others in Mpophomeni township, and also for telling us about what happened to you in 1990. You said that the strike at Sarmcol had really taken over and affected your whole life, and we know that that is true for those who have followed this - what can only be described as an epic over the last 10 or 11 years; that people battled in the courts again and again and again to get their jobs back, and while they were fighting that battle in the courts they were also fighting a battle back in their homes, trying to protect their homes from people who were attacking them and intimidating them and killing them. As my colleague, Dr Magwaza, has said, our job is to make recommendations to the Government. We as a Commission are not able to promise or give you anything at this stage, but we will make recommendations to the Government as to how we think people like yourself should be assisted.
MR LYSTER: We have asked Mrs Ngobani also to come up and sit on the stage. She originally gave a statement to the Truth Commission some weeks ago, and there was a little confusion as to whether or not she would be giving evidence. She was initially unsure as to whether she wanted to give evidence, but she had indicated today that she does want to give evidence, and we thought it would be appropriate that she sits on the stage with Mr Sibiya. Mr Sibiya was the survivor of the infamous massacre in 1986 at Mpophomeni, and Mrs Ngobani lost her husband, Simon Ngobani, in that massacre. Mr Sibiya, before you give your evidence can I ask you to stand up to take the oath please.
MR LAX: Thank you, chairperson. Greetings to you, Mr Sibiya and Mrs Ngobani. Mr Sibiya, can I just confirm - and just for the record, your correct surname is Sibiya, is that correct? --- Yes, that's correct.
On the summary of your statement your name was incorrectly shown Mngathi, and it is in fact Sibiya, and I am just confirming that for the record. --- I am not Mngathi, I am Sibiya. Yes. Mr Sibiya, is it correct that you are 37 years old? --- Yes, when this happened I was 37 years old.
Before we start with that story tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. --- Yes. I am a resident of Mpophomeni. My father had three wives. My mother is the youngest wife. My mother had eight kids and others are now dead. And I got married and now I have eight kids as well and I am left with six kids. I am a resident at Mpophomeni.
Let us move to the difficult story that you have to tell us about what happened on that night, and if you could perhaps start - as I understand the story you were at home and Simon Ngobani, Phineas Sibiya, who was your brother, and Florence Mngathi arrived at your house. Will you tell us what happened from there please. --- I wasn't at home, and I heard that Inkatha was going to come. And on Friday, on a particular Friday, Inkatha has arrived. And a friend of mine told me, and we confirmed that Inkatha has arrived. I went to the hall, community hall, and then I went back home. When I arrived home I was driving a car and I saw them in the car. And I went to them and I told them that, "you heard that Inkatha has
arrived?" So they said, "Yes, we heard." And after a while we saw eight guys coming and they were armed. And when they came they came direct to the car and told us to come out from the car. And we said, "Why?" and they said to us what are we doing. So they said to us, "Let's go with them to the hall." And then they took me by force because I didn't want to go with them. So they said, "Why don't you want to come?" I said, "No, I don't want to come," because - I wasn't inside the car, so one of them stabbed me at my shoulder. And we went to the hall. They put us in a small room.
There was a rally going on at that hall, is that correct? An Inkatha rally was taking place at the Mpophomeni Hall? --- I won't be that much sure whether it was an Inkatha rally or not, but Inkatha people were full in that hall.
(Inaudible) ... interpretation unfortunately, so if you could just say - you were placed in this room, and carry on from there. --- The lady wasn't locked with us, she was locked in another room. I don't know, because we were locked in a small room except for the lady. The lady was locked in another room. After that they hit us, they kicked us, they asked us which organisation we belong to. And then they said to us, "You see, you said Inkatha people won't come here. Now we are here," and they continued kicking us, and they asked us why can't we join Inkatha. And we said, "We don't know anything about Inkatha. We don't want to belong to Inkatha, but our
councillors, our township councillors belong to Inkatha." And then the ZP came and pointed guns at us, and one policeman came and said, "No, you mustn't do this," and then afterwards they listened to this guy. And then they continued asking us, "Why are you on strike at Sarmcol?" And we said, "No, it wasn't just us who made people to boycott. We all agreed on a strike." And then this man left and then the Zulu Police continued to kick us, hitting us, and then they took us to the doctor. They said they were taking us to the doctor. And the car was parked outside the hall, and Mr Ngobani went out. He started running and they shot. I am not quite sure whether he was shot or not, but they brought him back. And they said we must get inside the car, and we got inside the car on the back seat and the lady got inside the front seat. And one police - one ZP police was on my left-hand side, and on my right-hand side was another Zulu Police. And in front of us there was another car, and they had a 25 litre of petrol, half of 25 litres. It wasn't full. And they said they were taking us to the doctors, but the car didn't go to the doctor's place. I tried to push the police on my right-hand side so that I could get away, and the police started hitting me and he said to me I must talk over the over and tell the others that I am not coming (sic).
Please continue. --- We drove, and I wished we could meet other cars so that I would make a scene, I would try and open the door, but we didn't meet other cars. So they continued driving with us, and I tried to push this policeman and I tried to open the door. And this policeman realised that I was trying to open the door and I was trying to run away, and the police said, "You are going to talk over the over," and then I started being quiet and then drove. They take a U-turn and they said to us we are going to remain inside the car and they are going to leave us. And all the policemen, the three of them, left. And when this police who was next to me - as he was leaving the car I tried to follow him, and then he hit me. He hit me by his gun, and his gun shot me at my finger and I fell down. I tried to roll over. I tried to roll until I reach a place where there was water, and I remained there for a while. And I just thought they were just looking for me and they just didn't find me. After a while I heard gunshots. I heard one after the other. After a while one, and I realised that they were shooting those people. And I stayed inside the water until morning. Early in the morning I tried to walk. I walked to the farm a white man's farm, and I asked for the help, and he didn't want to help me. And I went to another farm man and the next one helped me, because I asked him to make a call and he called. And I asked him to take me by his car, and he asked me why can't he call police. And I said, "I am scared to call police," and Mr Ben said, "Okay, I am going to take you the police." And I went there, I went to the shop, and I asked them to call 'Maritzburg. And they told them that I am hurt, I am at a certain place, and the police came. In other words this white man called the police, so the police came and they looked for me, and they found me there and they took me. They took me to MAWU, and when we arrived there they took a statement.
(Inaudible) ... there was a case afterwards, or an inquest? --- Yes, there was a case, because I remember one time they said I must come to court. And when I went there I also found members of Inkatha there. And they asked me some questions, and I didn't hear whether they were asked some questions those people from Inkatha, or they were not asked.
(Inaudible) ... what actually happened was that there was an inquest, and the Inquest Magistrate in Howick found that the following people were responsible for the deaths of your comrades. Maurice Thusi, Joseph Mabaso, Nhlanhla Shabalala, Thulani Mchunu, Bhekisizwe Majozi, Bhekugwense Mtshali, Msikayifane Cele, Vele Mchunu and Dumisani Mkhize. These are the people that the Court found, after hearing evidence, were responsible. But this was an inquiry into the deaths of your friends and your brother, it wasn't a court case as such, and as far as we are aware those people have never been prosecuted by a Court. Now ... (intervention) --- Yes, that might be true, because I never heard anything. There was no case afterwards. They were not sentenced.
That is correct. They have never been sentenced for - or even tried in a court for this incident. Now, at the inquest the Court heard evidence of the doctor's examination of the bodies of the deceased, and just for the record the inquest finding in respect of Mr Ngobani was that he had suffered a brain haemorrhage and a haemorrhage of his body cavity, in other words his chest. They couldn't say whether he had been shot or not because unfortunately all the bodies were burnt. And then in respect of your brother, he had a - what is described as a penetrating wound of the heart, probably caused by a bullet. And then in respect of Filomina Mngathi there was a penetrating wound of the lung. What the inquest found happened is that after they were shot or stabbed, or both, the vehicle was set alight and the bodies burnt inside. I am just telling you this because I am not sure that anyone has formally told you this properly. --- Yes, that's true. No one ever came to me and told me this.
We will hear from Mrs Ngobani about her family. As far as Filomina Mngathi is concerned, did she have a family, was she married? Did you know her at all? --- She was single. I don't have an idea, but all I know is that she was single.
I would like to ask a few questions because everything seems to be clear now. You said there was one guy who gave you help. Do you still remember the name of the guy? The farmer who helped you, do you still remember the name of the farmer? --- I don't know his name.
MR LAX: Once again greetings, Mrs Ngobani, and welcome here, and we're really sorry about what has happened to you and to your husband, and we understand how difficult it is for you to talk about these things. Is there anything you would like to add - or in fact before we start perhaps - is it correct that you were born on the 25th of December 1958? --- 25 December.
Can you tell us how this whole incident has affected your family? --- My family is really disturbed. Like for instance my kids are still at school, and I am having a problem and they are having a problem. Sometimes my kids come home and say to me, "Mother, if father was still alive we could meet things like uniform," because sometimes they run out of uniform, and all those things remind them of their father. And before this when I lost my husband I used to run out of food. I never knew what to do because I didn't know what to give my kids. And fortunately enough I have a sister who really helps me, who is working with me. And sometimes I'll tell them, "I've run out of maize meal," and they'll give me. And they really do help me. Because I am working at creche school, and we cook for these kids, sometimes I take the maize meal from the creche. It's so sad, it's very sad. I don't know what to do.
We heard about your misery. What I would really like to know is that did you ever try to go to Welfare Department, see social workers to help you? --- Yes, I did try, like I went to Vulindlela social workers and I gave them my request. And people received money and I also received one, but now I don't. I don't know what stopped this money from coming now.
MR LYSTER: You have both suffered terrible tragedies and sadness arising out of that incident on 5th December 1986. Mr Sibiya, you escaped from certain death, and these memories I am sure will live with you for the rest of your life. You are a very lucky person, and you were lucky enough to have been protected after this incident by people who gave you a safe place to live and a place to work.
Mrs Ngobani, you suffered the brutal murder of your husband and the father of your children, and we express our deepest sympathies to you. I hope it is of some comfort to you both that the people that you lost, the comrades that you lost, Mr Sibiya, and the husband that you lost, Mrs Ngobani, are regarded by thousands and thousands of people as heroes of the struggle for liberation which allows us to sit today in this hall and to hear your story today.
The Commission, as you will have heard me say earlier today, doesn't have power to assist you or award you compensation of any sort, but we have the power to make recommendations to the Government, and we will make recommendations to the Government in that regard. With regard to the people who committed these terrible acts, and who have not yet been brought to justice, that is something which clearly we will follow up on your behalf, and on behalf of all the other people who have fought like you have for freedom in this country.
MR LYSTER: You have come today from Mpophomeni township, and you have come to tell us a story which relates to the murder of your friend, Bongani Cele, who was shot by the police in Mpophomeni. Before you tell us that story please could you stand and take the oath.
MRS GCABASHE: Good day, Mr Dube. I can see that you are from Mpophomeni. We've heard so much about the violence that took place in Mpophomeni. We shall now start by sympathising with you during the hard times that you've gone through. Now, before we start even hearing your testimony I would like you to give us a general overview of your family background, and just tell us a bit about Bongani also, because he is not here. Is it true that you were born in 1963? --- Yes, it is.
So you are 33 years old now. --- Yes, I am. We are nine at home. Two of them have died. Three boys left, and there are four girls. My father has also passed away. I am left with my mother. I think that's where I'll end as far as my immediate family is concerned. I will soon be getting married.
That's quite a wonderful idea to increase your family. Are there any who are attending school in your family? --- They are all grown up. They have all matriculated, and some are going on with their education. On the 31st March 1990, if I am not mistaken, it was about quarter to 10 to quarter past 10 - it was on a Saturday - we woke up with Bongani, the deceased. Let me just tell you what my relationship is with Bongani. He is not my relative, he is quite a close friend. In December we had run away from Haza because of being harassed by a certain political group. We ran to a place that was next to Haza, probably five kilometres from Haza. That's where we ran to. It was an ANC region. When we got there we were accepted. They took us into a hall. We had to find means of surviving. I was running away with Bongani, because he was also being harassed and told that he was a member of the ANC. At Mpophomeni we didn't know what to do because we were not working and we just had no means of earning a living. Now I decided that I should get something to do. I opened up a tuck shop. I was selling fruits and vegetables. Now one of our friends said he wanted to help me with transport so that we could order the goods that I was selling, and I would give him a nominal fee.
When you said you ran away, where were your parents? Did you leave them behind? --- No, our parents also packed their belongings. We left our homes and we moved to a totally different area. On the 31st March we just woke up as usual and we were heading for our stalls. I had a car at that time. My uncle had borrowed me a car. I was using that car to ... (intervention)
Tell us who your uncle is. --- It's Henry Vusumuzi Gunene. We went to open the tuck shop. As we were still working we realised that there were people approaching, a group of people running towards us. They were having assegais, pangas, and we heard even gunshots. They were in a warpath. It seems as if they were heading more towards the station, which is two kilometres from the place at which we were selling our vegetables. I told Bongani that the business was bad that day because people were fighting. We decided to close the shop because we didn't feel safe. We packed our belongings. It was round about half past nine. We packed them into the car. Now there was starting to be some unrest. At that time there were police - there were little mini police stations that were just being put or erected at particular places, and we realised that these mini police stations had been put further up. Along the way we met another man who was limping because he was injured. He stopped us. We know who the man is. He stopped us. He wanted us to help him, take him for medical attention, and we told him that we had a problem because we were trying to rush home also, so it was better for us to go home, unpack, leave all the goods at home, then we will take him to the clinic because he was limping. We went home. Along the way we went around meeting people who needed medical attention, who needed to be taken to the hospital. Then we came back, we took him. As we were driving there was another one who was badly injured who also requested us to help him also. We took them to the Mpophomeni Clinic and we left them there. When we left the clinic Bongani said to me we should avoid the other road, we should use the main road, because the place now was full of police and we were scared that they would do something to us. We decided to use a different route. I said to him we should definitely use a different route. On that route that we used we saw other men who were also running away because now the police were shooting at random. We drove for a little distance from the station. We saw a police van. When we saw this police van Bongani said we should take a turn.
What sort of a van was it? --- It was a police van. We made a U-turn and we proceeded downwards. As we were proceedings downwards there came a Hippo which was driving slowly towards us. We realised that we absolutely had no way, we just had to stop so that the Hippo might pass. Just nearby, a very short distance from us, there were two white policemen who were showing right at the top of the Hippo. There's a little hole at the top of the Hippo and these police were having guns. I decided to take a right turn. They continued shooting at us, and you know when the boers start shooting they never stop. They just continued shooting. Bongani said to me, "We are going to die now." They shot the wheel or the tyre of the car and we got a puncture. We lost control of the car. It went out of the way. At the time when this was happening there were certain men at the back of the car, and when they were busy shooting I think these men at the back of the car got easily injured. As we were at the front we had a better chance of surviving than the people at the back.
Is he the only one that you know? --- Yes. Those other ones are my peers, we just grew together, but we are not very close. As the car had come to a halt Bongani asked me whether I had been shot. I said no. He said to me, "No, you had been shot," because he could see blood seeping from below my eye, and I had also been shot on the chest. I had been shot just below the eye, left eye. Bongani said to me, "Can you hear the Hippo coming just behind us?" He said we must try and pretend as if we were dead, because if we didn't pretend like that we were going to be killed. We kept still and the Hippo stood just next to us. There were three policemen. There were two white and one black one. They asked in Afrikaans, asking themselves whether we were dead. This other one said, "Yes, they definitely are dead." But later on he said, "No, they are not dead, they don't look dead." They opened the door, they said come out in Afrikaans. I am illiterate, I have never been to school, I don't know Afrikaans, but I did understand that he was ordering me out. When I went out the other one was taking Bongani out of the car. Now they made us stand one next to the other. That's when the whole thing started. I asked what had we done. They said, "Can't you see what you've done? This car has been running up and down in the location. This car has been causing trouble in the location. You have been ferrying people to the hospital." I told them I had been taking people to the clinic. I said to Bongani he must open the mouth, but he refused. Because this other boer wanted to put his gun in Bongani's mouth, but Bongani refused and there was an altercation. The other one was busy pointing a gun at me and I kept on holding the gun. When I looked at Bongani I saw him fall. This other one came to me. He had a badge that was written Mchunu. He had a police uniform. He was wearing the ordinary police uniform. It's greyish.
Is it the SAP Police? --- Yes. This other one came, the other one who had shot Bongani came. Then they were busy having an altercation. Each one of them wanted to shoot me. The other one said, "Let me shoot him," and the other one said, "No, let me shoot him." We were facing east. Now there was another car that came. Probably this car disturbed them because they kept on saying, "No, no, no, no, no, watch, don't do anything. There's a car coming now. Just wait." This car kept on coming. I saw it was being driven by a white man. Now they took me and put me at the back of the Hippo. The car came and halted just a bit, but he never got out of the car. Then they said they were going to arrest me. They put me at the back of the Hippo. Then there were certain women who came and put a blanket over my friend, who had now died. It's our culture to cover a person who has died, or to cover the body of a dead person. They put him straight and they sat around him.
Do you know who these women are? --- The other one was Mrs Nxele. She even got shot, because they said she must move away from that place and she was adamant that she wasn't moving. Then they ended up shooting her also. Then police came, quite a number of them came, and they kept on asking, "What is it that's happening at this house?" That is the house where the women came out of and they stayed beside the corpse. Now when they got into this house they started harassing the people who were there. They opened up a window, they threw tear gas inside, and they started shooting for quite some time. And now the people who were inside the house were spilling out of the house, running away from the fumes of the tear gas. Now, when this woman came out she was shot, she was staggering, and the other policeman said, "Oh shame, it's a woman." Then I was taken in a Hippo. They told me that they were going to take me to a group of Inkatha for the Inkatha to see what to do with me.
What is it that made you think you were being taken to Inkatha? --- They told me that they were going to take me to Inkatha. Inkatha was going to kill me. I said I didn't have a problem with Inkatha. I said I was an Inkatha member. I was just telling lies, I just wanted to save my life, because I was not an Inkatha member at that time. They asked me, "Are you an Inkatha member? How can you kill people who belong to an Inkatha member if you were a member?" I told them I didn't kill anyone, I was just going to town to buy certain goods, and I told them that I was being hijacked. I was telling lies, I wasn't hijacked, I was doing it willingly, but it was just to save my life. I told them I was an Inkatha. Then he said, "You must just stop saying you are an Inkatha member, because I know you are not." I said, "I am a staunch member of Inkatha. I definitely am." Somehow I think they believed me, because they ended up not taking me to the Inkatha members. They put me in an other kombi, I think it was a police kombi. I was taken to Howick Police Station. They charged me. When we got to the police station I asked them why they were arresting me. They said they had arrested me in possession of a gun. They charged me with the possession of an unlicensed firearm. That's where I will end.
We have heard your story. In your statement you said Bongani was a student. Where was he attending school and what standard was he? --- It was during the times of the riots. At times he wouldn't go to school because there was unrest. Nearly all the Mpophomeni students had problems going to school.
You said there was a youth who was run down by the Hippo. What was his name? --- I don't know what his name was, but what they did, there just came this youth running, and they stopped the Hippo. They took the youth and they put him underneath the Hippo and they wanted to run him down. I don't know what ultimately happened to him because I was also arrested. I was taken and put into the back of the Hippo.
Now, what I've noticed in your statement is that so many people are involved, and their statements had been made jointly with yours. Now do you know why his statement, Molefe's statement, is together with yours? --- I don't know, because I am just relating what happened to me. There are so many people who died, and probably the statements were mixed in that way, but I am just relating the incident that took place during my presence. Some just came to see Bongani because he was shot. Some died, some got injured, so there was quite a lot of confusion.
Now, was there any inquest with regard to Bongani's death? --- We are from a very difficult time. It was very difficult to report a matter to the police. For instance the car we were driving was beyond repairs. It's staying at the police station, it's been parked there. It was beyond repairs. It stayed at the police station until 1994. Now I am the one who had to go take the car, but they kept on saying I couldn't get the car because the case was still on, and it took quite a number of years for me to get the car.
Do you know whether there was anything that the family got about Bongani's death as to the cause of death? What did the death certificate say? What was the cause of death? --- No, there's absolutely nothing I know.
The results of the post-mortem said he was shot in the head. Didn't you see anything of that sort? --- No, I never saw the death certificate, but because I was with him I could see. I knew he was shot in the head and I saw a big hole in his head.
DR MAGWAZA: There's just a few questions that I would like to ask you in order to clarify certain issues. You said there were two people who were in the car at the back of the car who were in danger of being shot. What happened to these two people? --- They got shot. They got severely injured, because the other one who is my cousin each time he has to go to the hospital they say they are giving him injections to extract the poison from his body. So his health is deteriorating by day. His whole body was full of bullets, especially on the left side, and he lost quite a number of fingers. I think it's three fingers. The other also said he is undergoing treatment. He is being given injections also, so both of them have problems.
Do they know that you've come to the Truth Commission? Did they wish to come? --- I told my cousin over the weekend. He is staying at a very far - it's quite a distance, and it's not a safe area to go to. Then I left a message that I was going to the Truth Commission. I don't know what the outcome was, whether he was told or not. So I came here without having had any contact with him.
The second point is that you've come here to give testimony about your friend Bongani Cele. Bongani Cele has got his family. Can you please tell us about his family just briefly? --- I cannot really be accurate in telling you about his family, but he was in a problem. His family was split into two. Him and his brothers as well as his sisters ran away and the parents were left there. Even when he had died his father didn't go to his funeral because of the circumstances, because it was said once you go bury somebody at the mountain you would not come back to that region or that area. Even today there is still that stigma attached to going to a certain area. But all his sisters are staying at Mpophomeni.
Bongani's father felt it was worth his while for you to go on giving testimony. Is there no problem that you are giving this testimony? Are they satisfied with the arrangement? --- I wouldn't really know, but I felt it was important that I should tell his father.
That's a very courageous act for you to have come here to tell us about your friend. We wished that we could have met Bongani's family so that we may have direct contact with his family, because you were both affected, the family and you as a friend. Now we don't see Bongani's family. Maybe there are certain questions that we would have liked to ask from Bongani's family, whether they had any wishes or expectations, or they had any questions that we could answer. We would only be willing to liaise with them. --- Let me speak for part of Bongani's family. When he died on the 31st of March, in April this year he got a child. He hadn't told me that he had a girlfriend with whom he was planning his future. This child was born, and they said Bongani's child wanted to see me. I asked them how old was he. They said he can talk, and he said he wanted to see the person who was with his father when his father died. On Sunday the past week they came to my shop, that is the child. Then this child said to me, "Oh, you are the man who was with my father when he died. Why did you allow the police to shoot my father?" This child is only six years old, but he asked me this question. I could not answer him. Even before I answered him he said to me why didn't I kill the policeman who had killed his father. I was at a loss for words. I did not know what to do. He said, "I hate the people who killed my father." You can imagine a child of that age saying such strong words. How is he going to grow up? How is he going to cope? He is of schoolgoing age now, but he hasn't yet been to school because the mother is not working. Now they also want me to help, to lend a hand, to assist them with the child's education. I think even Bongani's family was quite affected by the whole incident.
MR LAX: Mr Dube, we've read through the inquest that was held in respect of Bongani Cele, and we note that there is reference made to another person who died on the same day whose death was part of the same inquest, and that is a Mr Nkathelwa Ngathi. Do you know that person, or do you know of him? From the inquest it looks like he died at the same time in the same incident. --- Maybe I am not very sure, I don't want to make an error, because we were only three months living at Mpophomeni when this incident took place, so we didn't know most of the people there. You wouldn't know people who were on your side, people who were running away from Inkatha, so I just didn't know anything at that time.
The incident that you were involved in, where Mr Cele was killed, he was the only person that was close to you in that specific incident that was killed, is that correct? --- It is true. The person who died next to me was Bongani. The other ones were just being killed along the road. Some just fell, and I wouldn't really say they were dead then. They were just falling, so I don't have any tangible facts as far as that is concerned.
There's one thing I have to just tell you, and you can just admit it or deny it as you wish, but the police said in the inquest - the police evidence in the inquest was that in the vehicle in which you were travelling there was a person with a firearm who was shooting at them. What do you say to that allegation made by the police? --- That's absolutely not true.
MR LYSTER: Mr Dube, thank you very much for coming to us and telling us your story today. Not only did you suffer the loss of your friend, but you also had to suffer the shock of actually seeing him being killed in front of you, and we sympathise with you. Your story paints a vivid picture of what was happening in Mpophomeni township at that time, and it enables us to fill in the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that this province is when we write our final report.
whether there is anything that the Commission can do for them, and it is through you coming forward that we will be able to contact them, so we thank you for that. You have said in your statement that Bongani's parents have said that because you were with him when he died that they feel somehow that you must be held accountable for his death, and you've said in your statement that that has depressed you, and if you feel that there is anything that the Commission can do for you in that regard please don't hesitate to contact us.
DR MAGWAZA: We greet you, Mrs Hlela, and we are glad that you are here with us today. I would like you to start by telling us that who is Bhunu. We need to know him. Usually we like to know our heroes, so we want to know if Bhunu was in school or he was belonging to any organisation? We want you to just paint a picture to us, Bhunu's picture. --- Bhunu Hlela, and another name is Wellington Musakhayise. He was born in 1972, KwaZenzele township. He started schooling when we were at Mpophomeni. He was attending Sibombo LP School and then he proceeded to Nhlanhleni Higher Primary School. He went to Asibemunye, then he went to Mpophomeni High School. That's where he completed his standard 10. What he used to like very much it was the gospel music, and he was playing a keyboard organ in a choir. The name of the choir was called Amanqusa. He was the keyboard player. He was a child who used to go to church, who was a Christian, because that's how he grew up.
Now we would like you to tell us more about your family. --- In my family Bhunu was my second child. I have five kids. I am only left with four now. The first one it's Nhlanhla. He was born in 1970, and Bhunu was born in 1972. Sibongo was born in 1976, Zakile 1980, Mbali, the last-born, 1985.
Thank you. Now I would like you to relate to us the whole story what happened to Bhunu. --- I would like to start here. We were from Good Friday to celebrate Good Friday, and when we arrived home he said to us he is going to see Bheki Maseko, who was his friend. So he left, and then he came back soon. And then on Wednesday he waked up early in the morning. He said him and Bheki were going to prepare where the society for burial was going to have a function. And he was getting ready to go to a training college, teachers training college, the following year. Then they went on, him and Bheki, to prepare that place. And then he came and said they will go there because that's where they are going to practice. He came and he went to Bheki Maseko's house again, and in the evening the same day I heard gunshots, and I was scared because gun sound it's something that I really don't like, and I got scared. I was inside my house and I said to one person who was with me, who was my son, I said to him, "Hey, you know, when I am hearing gunshots I get scared because Bhunu is not in here." I prepared meal and I dished out for my kids, but I couldn't eat myself because I wasn't okay. So I asked my kids to come and pray with me. We prayed and we went to bed. Late at night - I can't remember very clearly what time it was, but I think it was round about 9 o'clock - we heard a knock at the window and I woked my husband. I said, "There's a knock. Someone is knocking," and then when he wanted to go and open the door I said to him, "No, don't open because I heard gunshots, so what if those people who were firing the gunshots are the ones who are knocking." So the person who was knocking identified himself quickly, and my husband went and opened the door and talked to this person. This person's name was Mr Gama. So my husband came back and told me that Mr Gama had news for us. "He said he needed to take me somewhere to show me something because something has happened." So they've driven by ND's car, and I just couldn't sleep afterwards. I was uneasy. I went to my other kid's bedroom, I told my kid, whose name is Sibongo. I said, "Your father went somewhere and they said there were bad news." So I stayed afterwards at the dining-room because I was feeling uneasy, and after a while they came back. And my husband opened the door and he came inside, and those other two guys who were with him were left outside. And then when I asked my husband, "How did you go?" my husband said, "Bheki and Bhunu are injured." So I said, "Where are they if they are injured?" So my husband kept quiet. And after a while my husband said to me, "Because you are dressed up let's go," and my husband said to me, "Let's go, because Bheki had been injured and he's dead." So I said to my husband, "You know, please tell me. If something had happened to Bhunu just tell me." I could feel in my blood that something had been wrong. (Pause)
When you feel that you're okay you can continue, but please take your time. Thanks. --- And then my husband said, "Bhunu as well is injured." And I said to my husband, "Just tell me if he's dead, because I can tell," and my husband didn't want to tell me. He went to the bedroom and then he came back again. And I said to him, "Please tell me," and then he said to me, "Yes, Bhunu's dead." (Pause)
It's really a hard time to you, Mrs Hlela. We understand. We are here because we want to be with you in hard times like this. (Pause) And then my husband asked me if I want to come with him to see where Bhunu has died, and I told my husband, "No, I won't be able to stand that." And when my husband opened the door as he was leaving I fell down, I was unconscious, and when I recovered my consciousness my sister was there. And then he went out to call our neighbours to come, and my husband came back afterwards and he had a plastic bag which I thought it was with his clothes. (Pause)
It's okay, Mrs Hlela, you can take your time. We can't push you because we understand this is very hard for you. (Pause) Once you feel you're okay, you can be able to talk, then you can talk. --- We stayed at home with my relatives and my neighbours until the next morning, and my husband started relating the whole story to us the next day. He said to he when he arrived there Bhunu and Bheki were dead, but Mngathi was shot but he didn't die, and he is the one who can tell the whole story because he saw everything. And the next day my husband went to prepare for the funeral, and we had no societal for - burial societal, and my husband wasn't working because of the Sarmcol strike, and I was the only one who was working, and I had a little baby at that time. And he had a temporary job at that moment. He went to this white guy who was his employer for help.
We understand, Mrs Hlela, and it's really hard and miserable, and sometimes we find ourselves in difficult positions that we need to ask questions even though some of the questions would lead to you being hurt more, but that's what we need to find out. I would like you to tell me more about Bheki Maseko, the one whom his house was attacked. Was he a member of any organisation, and why was his house being attacked? Do you know? --- What I heard is that Bheki Maseko had a car. On that day Bheki Maseko didn't come out because he heard that people were being shot, and then he went to the police station. He wanted to ask the police why were they quiet when people are busy shooting at each other. And when he came back, and those people who were busy shooting people realised that he is from the police station, and then now they came after him. So they killed them.
You also said that there's ND Zondi who was your neighbour, and Gama, and these were the people who told you about the death of Bhunu. Are they still alive? --- Gama is now dead. ND is still alive. I do know where he stays.
What I would also like to know again is that you gave us names like Sidney Bhengu, Nthokozizi Buthelezi, Thusi Khumalo. Can you please elaborate to us how these people are - people's names are here? --- I heard about them when there was a case, but I didn't go to this court case. My son, my elder son, Hlanhla, went there. I just told myself that I don't have the strength to sit and look at those murderers, so I didn't go to the court case.
But do you have an idea what happened, what was the result of the case? --- Yes, there was a court case and the Court found that Ford, who was the witness, didn't give his testimony 100%, so the Court wasn't satisfied about his testimony. They said his evidence wasn't good enough.
If there is more information will you give us? And again I also found something on your statement that your health it's no longer fine, and I heard as well that since after your son's death you have high blood pressure, you're scared of police even if you see them on the street, and again when they start - when people start talking about Bhunu's death you don't come around, you cry. Do you have any help? --- No, I don't. I don't have any help, and I am always scared. Anything that fells down I become scared. I am always scared. One day I just got scared because I heard a sound and I thought it was a gun sound, and then I fell down and my knee is still swollen, it's still not okay. I went to Edendale Hospital, but it's no longer the same, it's still bad.
You would like to have assistance? We understand everything, your misery, your sufferings and everything what we've heard. It's not just going to end here. We are going to take it forward. We are going to take it to the people who will come out with decisions. Is your husband still working? --- No, they are on strike.
MR LAX: You mentioned that of the three members of the Maseko family two had died. I am not just clear whether you mean that it was Bheki and your son, or whether it was Bheki and another person from that family that was killed as well on that day. Perhaps you could clarify that for us please. --- I mean Bheki and Bhunu. Those were the two who died.
MR LYSTER: Mrs Hlela, thank you very much for coming in to talk to us today. You've told us a very sad story about the death of your son, and we have heard stories from many, many mothers, parents like yourself all over this country who have lost their children - particularly their children, and we extend our deep, deep sympathy to you. We also note from your evidence that your husband was one of the Sarmcol workers, and you had the added suffering that was occasioned by the Sarmcol strike and all the violence and unrest that that led to.
We are not able, as you have heard me say this morning, to fulfil the requests that you have made in your statement. You've said that you wish your children to be given scholarships, you want a pension, but we certainly can make recommendations to the Government that people like yourself should be assisted in some way, and we all have no doubt that the Government will assist people like yourself who are victims of human rights abuses.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... two separate stories today. One relates to the murder of your brother, Jabulani, and the murder of Bhunu Hlela, who is the son of the lady who has just given evidence. Your brother and Bhunu Hlela died in the same incident, which took place in Mpophomeni in April 1993.
MR LYSTER: I am going to ask my colleague, Mr Dlamini, to assist you in the giving of your evidence, and it may be appropriate if you tell us first about the death of your brother and of Bhunu Hlela, because we've just heard that evidence from Bhunu Hlela's mother, and thereafter go on to the death of your son. Thank you very much.
Pass her greetings to her. Tell her we sympathise with her. Then we come to Bheki Maseko's family. Was Bheki married at the time of his death? --- He got married and got divorced. He does have kids. They are with their grandmother. There's two of them.
On this particular day according to the statement 11 people died in the very same manner and the same incident, and one of them is Bheki Maseko. We got some testimony from Bhunu's mother, but we think you may be able to shed some light. According to the information that you got what actually happened? --- I was at home round about six to seven. Another brother of mine who is younger than me came to see me. He said to me it looked as if something had happened at a neighbouring location. My brother's name is David. He said he had heard rumour that something had happened, and whilst I was at home I kept on hearing gunshots. Luckily as I was just going out, heading for the direction where the gunshots were being heard, I came across a police van. I ran to the police van to tell them that there's been gunshots and apparently something had happened. And at that time the police were rushing to a scene where a person had died. The police went there, they attended that person. They took the person and loaded him into the van. From there we went to my brother's place. When we got there I found my brother lying on the ground. He had been shot dead. As I was passing, going into the house, I saw Bhunu lying on the ground. He had also been shot. Then police started taking details, taking photos, and they were taken, the corpses were taken away from the place. I think that's where I will end.
Up to the day of the trial when they said they had found the perpetrators, and on the day of the trial, according to your knowledge, what were the reasons for their killing? --- This is just a rumour that I heard, that at the time when there was rife gunshots they saw a person in the street. He looked like he had been shot and he was lying on the ground. Then he went to the police station to report that there had been a person who had been shot. He wasn't sure whether the person was dead or not, but he was sure that the person was injured. Now, he came back with the police to this person who was on the ground. He left the police and proceeded to go home. That's when he got shot. We know in our community most of the problems start due to affiliating to certain or different political organisations. Did your brother belong to any political organisation? --- Yes, he was a member. He was a member of the ANC.
According to you the people who were killed were they members of any political organisations? --- No, I don't have any clarity on that, because at that time there were these violent outbreaks. You wouldn't know whether it was ANC or any particular group. You wouldn't know, but there was always friction between the political groups.
In your statement you are complaining about the manner in which the case was conducted. You are talking about a certain Mr Kaneck who wrote a letter to the Attorney-General complaining about the handling of the matter. Was Mngathi called in to give testimony? --- Yes, he did. He was the main witness.
According to your knowledge why did the Court - did the Court give any reason for releasing the perpetrators? --- We were told that the testimony was unsatisfactory. The evidence was just not sufficient for a conviction. Even the manner in which the investigators handled the case, even the parade, the manner in which the identification parade was conducted was very unsatisfactory. There were certain aspects of the case that were not written down or listed. There were spaces which were not filled in which made the evidence to be very much insufficient and scanty.
We will try and follow that up, see if there's anything that we can do to satisfy you. We've got a death certificate here. It's a temporary one. Did you ever get the original one that details as to what the cause of death was? --- No, we never got any death certificate.
In your statement you say your expectations and your wishes are that a monument could be built for all the 11 victims who died so violently on that particular day. The Committee of Reparations and Rehabilitation, Dr Mgojo, as well as Dr Magwaza, who are members, they are taking that into consideration and they will further their recommendations to the people who have all the authority. We are going to do a follow up, see if there isn't more evidence and testimony that we can get with regard to the case. We will get back to you in due course. --- One other thing that I want to point out is I think there are certain aspects of our law that should be revised, because on that particular day when Bheki died 10 other people died. On the following day one died. That was the 11th. But amongst all the people who died there isn't even a single person who got convicted with regard to the deaths of those people. There isn't even a single person who got arrested in all the 11 cases. Now this poses a problem because that means we've got absolutely no law in our country.
We do agree with you Mr Maseko. At times you find that there are people who belong to a certain political group who are really not members of these groups, but they are just being put in there as spies to spy on whatever the organisation is doing. Were there no such people within that ANC stronghold? Is there anything you know of such people? --- Well, I will say at that time there were certain groups which were called Mgovu and Mgongo.
Can you please explain to us what that Mgovu and Mgongo means. --- I won't be able to actually explain, but it was little groups that called themselves Mgovu, and the other ones called themselves Mgongo, but you wouldn't know whether Mgongo was under ANC or IFP, or Mgovu was under either of them.
We don't have any more time. We'll just ask a few questions. Amongst all those suspects, Mr Maseko, you counted Sidney Sizwe Bhengu, Nthokozizi Buthelezi and Sergeant Thusi Khumalo. Where are they now? --- One of them is still around, the other one is in gaol. I don't know about the third one.
Do you know the wall at Mpophomeni which has got a list of people that were harassed, tortured? Now, are those names listed on that wall? Have they been written? --- Yes, they have. Especially Bheki's name it is there. I am sure about that one. I am not very positive about all the other names. But the names of the people who were killed then are listed there.
Do you remember the ceremony that was conducted for the erection of that monument? Now you want a real monument that is different from the one that has already been made? --- My request was that those who died on that particular day, on one day, maybe if we could make a monument for them specifically for the 14th of April 1993.
So we'll look into that. --- Because the main reason why we should have the monument was that everybody who got injured, who got killed at Mpophomeni should have his name listed in there, the day, the month, as well as the year and the name of the person.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. I thank you, Mr Maseko, for persevering. We are now going to go on to hear the story about your son who died, Mlungisi Jerome Maseko, at Mpophomeni. When this happened he had visited his uncle, is that true? --- Yes, it is true, it's his uncle.
Can you please explain what happened on that particular day when your child got injured? --- I was at home in the afternoon. It was at about six or seven. Three boys came into the house. They said to me I should rush to a certain spot where Mlungisi had been injured that was next to the supermarket. I took my car, I drove towards that direction. When I got there he was on the ground sprawled. I thought probably he had just been injured ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 2) ... went to the police station. When I got to the police station they said I should wait, they'll send the doctor to come and check him. When the doctor came somehow I had a feeling that he had died, because when I looked closely I could see that these were bullets that were sticking out of his skin. When the doctor came he examined him and declared him dead.
Are there are police who came to take a statement from you, or were there any cartridges that you found in the area? --- There's one CID who came to take a statement from me. His name was Aron Kunene. He is the one who came to me. We did not get any empty cartridges, because even when I asked what type of a gun with which he was shot he flatly refused to tell me.
What happened? What were the circumstances preceding your son's death? Who was there? Were there any political organisations that were there? Was there any friction? --- At that time there were soldiers in the location. They were called 32 Battalion. That was the time where they went around assaulting and shooting people, especially at night.
Is there anything that was said by the 32 Battalion at the time that your child was already injured? Maybe they asked for forgiveness or they did something or say something. --- No, they said absolutely nothing.
MR LYSTER: Mr Maseko, thank you for telling us your stories. You are another one of the victims of Mpophomeni township. You lost your brother and your son in the space of one and a half years. This area, Mpophomeni, has seen more than its share of suffering over the last 10 years, and from the evidence that we heard yesterday and today it seems clear that the labour conflict in 1985, and the intolerance shown by the employer at that time of the Sarmcol strike, has had a great deal to do with the tragedies which occurred in the years to come. You have helped us to put together a picture, a vivid Picture of what was happening, the sort of lawlessness which was taking placing in the township at the time, and the stories that you have told us will find their way into the report that we have to write for the Government at the end of our period of office.
With regard to assistance from the Commission, you've heard me say that recommendations will be made to the Government as to how people like yourself should be assisted. So thank you again very much for coming in to talk to us today, and we wish you well. Thank you very much.
MR LYSTER: The following witness is Lawrence Dladla, Lawrence Fanizini Dladla. Can he come up to the stage? We will be breaking at 1.30 for lunch. We are running late today. People have had a lot to say, a lot of tragic stories to tell, and we are running a little later than we expected to, so we will be running until half past one, we will have a maximum 30 minute lunch break until 2 o'clock, and we will resume again at 2 o'clock. Mr Dladla, can you hear me through the earphones?
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... moved from Mpophomeni to Mpumalanga township, where you come from, and you have come to tell us about the killing, the murder of your sons, Molo Dladla, Fox Dladla, and Zakhele Dladla. You have suffered the terrible tragedy of losing three children in political violence.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Greetings, Mr and Mrs Dladla, and welcome. Before we continue with the different stories which you're going to tell us, and they are four different stories over four different periods of time, can you tell us a little bit about your family, how many children there are, and so on? --- I had 11 kids. /I had
These difficult circumstances that took place must be quite hard for you to tell us about, but if you can please persevere, and if we can start with the story that relates to your son, Molo Dladla. He was 18 years old at the time that he was killed, is that correct? --- Yes, he was 18.
(Inaudible) ... in the morning. Do you remember the time? --- I am not sure, but I will say 8 o'clock. He left for a while up until 3 o'clock. I heard gunfire. One guy came to tell us that someone had shot my son at the bus stop or taxi rank. And I was at home. I felt like I am losing my mind, and I wanted to leave my house and run and go and see what was going on at the taxi rank. I saw policemen whom we used to call them "shayabhuka," and they were in green uniforms and they came. And my wife and I we went there because we wanted to know more, because someone has also told us that other three people have been shot as well. And when we arrived there my son was no longer there. They have taken him. They have taken him to a mortuary, and we were not there. And they said when they arrived there my son wasn't there, but they just saw the blood, his blood. The next morning one boer came to my house. His name was van Vuuren. He said to me, "We found your son. We've been looking for him for a long time, and you've been telling us he's not around, and you've been telling us he's working in town." Because they have been looking for him, but I knew my son didn't commit any crime, but he was a leader of the Comrades. And then I said to this white guy, "Are you sure you found him?" and this white guy said, "Yes, we did. Let's come and we will show you." And they said to me, "You must come tomorrow morning to us. We will show you." I said, "Okay," and the next morning I went to the police station. When I arrived there van Vuuren, this boer, said, "You, we've been coming to your house looking for your son, and now we've found him. Now I can cancel his case." And I asked him, "What did he do?" And then he said, "No, your son, we've been hearing a lot about him. We've been hearing that he's the hottest guy amongst the Comrades." And when he was talking he was happy, and he said to me, "They thought they were gun proof. We found them now." And they told me to come with them to their car. They took me, they left with me. I was quiet all along. And then they came back with him. And it was very cold, it was like it's snowing. I went there with them because I wanted to see my son's body, and my heart was torn apart when I saw bodies, corpses, being packed on top of each other, and I said, "How come I can't see my son?" when I looked over. Mr Mchunu, who was working with Dr Thomson -Dr Thomson who was the pathologist doing the post-mortem -I saw him on top of the table. There was no space where you can put your feet because there were corpses all over the place. And I looked around and my heart was torn apart, and I saw my son. I looked at him. I saw one big hole on his chest and I said to myself, "Oh my God, my son is lying there forever." My son told me that we should move from that place, and I said, "No, I won't go back there because I might die." And I said to myself, "Oh, sleep well, my son." Mchunu asked me, "Where are you going to take your son? Which mortuary are you going to take him to?" And I said to him, "I don't know," because Mpumalanga Mortuary didn't want to take our bodies, and again I won't bury my son at Mpumalanga township. Archie Gumede was the one who helped me to find a cemetery where I could bury my son, and this was at Clermont location. Then we started preparing for the funeral now. We prepared for the night vigil. My wife was crying, because while we were waiting for the funeral service the white men used to come and search my wife, and she used to cry all the time.
(Inaudible) ... in your statement that there was a problem about the funeral because the police refused to allow you to have the funeral in Mpumalanga or Hammarsdale, and that's why you had to have it in KwaDabeka, is that correct? --- Yes, that's correct.
After this happened you then buried your son, is that right? --- I did, because I asked Archie to help me and he found a place in Clermont township, not Mpumalanga. That's where I buried my son, and it was painful because at the funeral whites came and they were jumping my son's coffin, and I was quiet with a cross. At the night vigil when people were there to console me, and the police came and they chased them away.
(Inaudible) ... now to the second incident, which took place on the 10th of April 1989, which involves the death of your son Nthokhozi Fox Dladla. You told us in your statement that he and his friend, Bongani Khomo, had gone to visit a girlfriend in Mpumalanga. Is that right? --- Yes, that's true.
Can you tell us what happened as far as you know? --- Yes. I was at home at that time. Bongani came and he said, "Oh Daddy, they've arrested Fox." And I asked Bheki where did they take him. He said they took him down the street. And when we went to the police station, ZP Police Station at Mpumalanga, when we arrived there we told the police and they came. And then we asked Bongani, "Bongani, can you identify those people who took him?" and Bongani said, "Yes, I can." And then the police took us. They asked Bongani if he knows Nginga, and Bongani said, "Yes I know Nginga." When they came they said we must stand aside and then they let them pass through, and then one policeman asked Bongani if these are the people that you saw, and Bongani said, "Yes, these are the people that I saw." And they refused, they refused all of them. And at about three the police started hitting them, kicking them, and then one said, "No, talk. You must talk, Nginga. We are tired now of being beaten." And one of them was my relative. He went to Nginga and he kicked Nginga, hit him, and then Nginga said, "Okay, now I can go "and show you where I have hidden him." And then they left and they came back with him, they brought him back. And this policeman was now swearing and he said to me, "I am sorry, your son has passed away." I felt dizzy, and I looked at Nginga. I wanted to hit him and he ran under the van. I wanted to take a gun because I felt like shooting him. And when I saw my son my son was been cut like a goat, and that hurt me very much. I even felt that it was better if they shot him rather than cutting him. There was no case.
Now, besides Mr Nginga, whose name you have mentioned here, do you know any of the other names of the four, the other three accused, or suspects we should say? --- Yes, I do. Nginga, Mputha, Masikhane and the last one I just don't know his name and surname.
Now, let us move to the third of these incidents please, which is on the 3rd of September 1989. Your son, Zakhele, was shot dead by a KwaZulu Policeman whose name is Mfanafuthi Ngubane, is that correct? --- Yes, that's true.
You've told us that your son, Zakhele, was sitting at home, and there was someone next to him, and this policeman arrived at your house. Tell us what happened as far as you know. --- What I will clarify here it's what I've heard from the lady who was staying with my son, because my son was not staying with me, my son was staying in another ward. I was in my neighbour's house and I received a message from someone who said to me, "Would you please come aside. Do you know that your son is no longer alive? Would you please go home, hurry home." I went home and I saw candlelight, so I knew at that moment that Zakhele is gone. And when I asked what really happened they told me he had been shot. And I said to myself, "Zakhele is someone who plays guitar. Who will kill someone who is playing music?" And someone told me Mfanafuthi Ngubane, who is the ZP, the Zulu Police, has shot him. I asked why and I asked how, and they just told me he is shot, and the bullet came from the back and came through his eye and hit the wife. And I realised that they were being shot, both of them, my son and his wife. And there was no case even there. When I tried to search about that one detective told me that, "Because you know no one will be arrested, this Mfana, the person who shot him, won't be arrested. Just do it like a man." And I said to myself, "This is a policeman's advice." So it was just like that up until today. And I would like to thank you because ... (incomplete)
(Inaudible) --- No, I don't know her name. And I suggested that maybe we should bury them same place, and her husband said no. Would you be able to give us details of her husband, so that we can perhaps find him and speak to him and confirm what their situation is? --- I don't even know this woman's husband because this was the first time we had seen each other because of that situation.
If we can then move on to the last of these terrible incidents, which happened on the 3rd of November 1991, and this was also again in Mpumalanga township when your son Figo was killed by what are referred to as "com tsotsis." Those are criminals who masquerade as political people. --- This one was outside fixing a car with his friend, Themba, and he was inside the car. This is what I've heard. This is what someone told me. And I heard that he was stabbed and they rushed him to hospital, and I tried to call him and he said, "Yes." And then one of his friends said, "Let's just leave him behind because we can't wait for him, we need to rush this person to hospital." So they rushed him to hospital. They rushed him to police station instead of hospital. And then when I went to the police station I heard that he is in now Pinetown Mortuary. And when we followed later on we found out that these people were disguising to be Inkatha or tsotsis. They were all together. This is where I would like to end because this is as far as I know.
Now, just to go back to the ... (intervention) --- I would like to say something. There's something that I would like to tell you about because you didn't ask me about myself, because I was also harassed and tortured by boers. I would like to also - I would like to express about myself and explain to you how I was tortured and harassed by boers, because you didn't ask me about myself. (Inaudible) ... that story about the guns and how they came to look for guns. It didn't find its way into your main statement, but I was able to pick it up elsewhere. You've told us in another part of your statement that the police used to come and look for guns, and that during one of those occasions they assaulted you quite badly. When was that exactly? Can you remember the year or the month? --- I can't remember the year because I am not educated, I am illiterate.
(Inaudible) ... and you went to the doctor and were treated for that. In fact you went to the hospital you said. --- Yes, they took me to hospital, but before they took me to hospital they took me to Mr Thomson, who was my doctor.
DR MGOJO: (Inaudible) ... because we don't have enough time. Mr Dladla, who is Mfanafuthi? Is he still a policeman? --- Yes, he is. I usually see him, but he is still a policeman. He is now working in Durban, and I just - I think he's at Umlazi.
This Commission will try and investigate. Your testimony it's more like Job's story in the Bible, and we sympathise with you, and we would like to know if you are going to doctors, both of you, you and your wife. Are you seeing psychologist, psychiatrist? --- Yes, I do go to doctors, but because I am a pensioner I can't be a regular doctor's customer. My wife as well she does go to see doctors, but because of money we don't go all the time. And we also have daughters. Our daughters are also our responsibility, and this one woman took her son, which is my son's son, my late son's son, and brought it to me, and now I am having this responsibility. I am taking care of my grandchildren with my pension. And my other kids are still at school, and I think they were mentally disturbed and I wish that my kids should go to multiracial schools. One is in standard eight, one in nine, one in standard seven.
MR LYSTER: Mr and Mrs Dladla, it's difficult to know what to say to you today. You have raised four children and you have buried them. Two of them were killed by members of the Inkatha Freedom Party, a third was killed by a member of the KwaZulu Police, and a fourth was killed by criminals, who thrived on the political divisions in Mpumalanga township. This is a terrible burden for you to carry, and we extend our deep sympathy to you, and to the many others who have lost children in the cause of freedom in this country.
We are glad that you and your wife could come here together to support each other. You are both victims of human rights violations as a result of the suffering that you have undergone, and we will be making recommendations to the Government as to how people like you should be assisted. We will also be following up why people like Mfanafuthi Ngubane are still serving in the police force.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... to give your story today. You are also from Mpumalanga, which is where Mr Dladla came from, an area which suffered terrible human rights abuses, particular 1988, 89 and 90, and this story that you will tell relates to the tragic killing of your wife, Mrs Xaba. Before you give that evidence please will you stand and take the oath.
He is just accompanying you and giving you support, is that correct? --- We don't stay together so he has his part. He wants to say his piece. I would like him to speak because we don't stay together at the same place.
(Inaudible) ... people who have not given a statement beforehand, but if he just wants to add something very brief then we will permit him to do so. But please bear in mind that we have another six witnesses to hear after you. Mr Xaba - are you also Mr Xaba? Will you also stand please and take the oath.
Will you just tell us briefly. --- In 1985 we were harassed because I belonged to the ANC and the Hammarsdale area was an Inkatha stronghold. There was another man. He has already died. His name is Zakhele Nkehle. He was the leader of Inkatha in that particular area. He was the one whose music they danced to. He was staying at unit 4, Lithiye. That's the area which had a lot of problems, where my son Zakhele was chased out of the school. He couldn't get a school in 1985. Thereafter Zakhele Nkehle made an oath and swore that we thought we were better people because we were ANC members. Then he said I should bribe him in order to be able to stay peacefully at Hammarsdale. I told him I wasn't able to do that. In 1986 there was a split between our union, NTW, so we formed our own union called TAWU. Unfortunately I was elected as the president. That is when Zakhele Nkehle and Mr Sishi came to me and told me that if I didn't want to bribe him I was going to have a very difficult life in Hammarsdale. Police kept on coming to my place to raid, and by then my son wasn't there any more. And they used to come and confiscate things in my house. Now I couldn't live peacefully.
What's your son's name? --- It's Busiso Xaba. Now my life was becoming even more unbearable. My wife was working in Durban during those years. She was working at Dalbridge, and she used to travel to and fro in the morning and come back in the evening. There's a place called Three Line, and that place is an Inkatha stronghold, and when we wake up in the morning we never used to switch on the light so that people wouldn't realise that we were already awake. So we lived that life where we were being raided day in and day out. We reported the matter to the police station, but absolutely nothing was done. The police just didn't care, and Smit showed some signs of siding with the Inkatha in Hammarsdale. When we formed this union I told him that I wasn't going to bribe him, I wasn't going to offer him any money. Then he told me in court - I told him in court that I wasn't going to bribe him. Then in 1988, on the 25th of August, that is when my wife died. She was shot along her way to the work. We were very confused. We didn't know who had killed her. Up until now we didn't know. It's only recently that we heard the matter. She was working at a certain firm in Dalbridge. It was a very small firm. Now when the case was being heard in Makhutha that's when we discovered that my wife was killed - even today our family is split into two because there was always that question mark as to who killed my wife. Now in 1989 we discovered that she was killed by the Inkatha gang, that is Musa Xulu. That's only then that we discovered. We were told by a certain man. She was killed by Alexis Khumalo and Musa Xulu. Musa Xulu is a KwaZulu-Natal Police. He is in Umlazi, but he stays in Hammarsdale. Khumalo is very well known. He's the main witness in the KwaMakhutha case. They were the ones who told us, and we even saw in the newspapers that she was shot because she was giving UDF arms. Yes, they said my wife was giving arms to the UDF. In reality they wanted to kill me and my son, but they just could not, so that's how they decided to kill my wife. That's how she died. She wasn't politically active. She was the easy target for them to get. In the end they decided to kill her. That was to get at me. They had to use her as a soft target. I could not get a licence, because I also wanted to get a firearm to protect myself. We applied to Adriaan Vlok, but we were refused licences. They said we must apply to Kleynhans, but they could not give us any reasons why they didn't want to give me a firearm licence at that time. Up until now I have never got a licence.
Who are the attorneys you were working with to get the licence? --- I am not sure who they were. They were Indian guys. The even instituted an appeal. We appealed to Vlok, but still he refused, and I realised that it was the station commander who was actually refusing, because he was also an Inkatha member. His name was Smit. We used to hate each other so very much.
How was your wife's funeral? --- I was born in Harrismith, so it was not easy for us to get a place to bury her in Hammarsdale. We discussed it with the family that we should get another place at which to bury my wife, so we went to Ladysmith. We hired two buses. We hired a hearse from Harrismith to come and fetch her. Then we followed in a kombi and two buses came thereafter, because we couldn't bury her at Hammarsdale because it was an Inkatha stronghold.
Was there any inquest held with regard to her death? --- No. A detective came. He took a statement. He also took the empty cartridges. Up to now there's absolutely nothing he did with the case. I wasn't even called.
Do you have diseases, either physical or emotional, as a result of your wife's death? Have you ever seen any doctors? --- I am not working. I was working before, but my firm closed. They said I must join Inkatha, and they ultimately chased me out of the firm because I didn't want to join Inkatha. My son is at school. He is doing a teacher's course.
We've heard, Mr Xaba. We shall look into your matter, especially because you were harassed, traumatised, and your wife eventually died. We suggest that you see some psychiatrist or psychologist. --- Now this thing doesn't come to an end. Now I got work in 1993 and they still approached me that I must join Inkatha, and when I refused still I was chased away from my work. Now I don't know what to do any more, because it seems this thing is continuing. The name of the firm is Mediterranean Textile Mills. That firm is being controlled by Inkatha. When they chased me I was approached by my foreman, and my foreman said I must join Inkatha and bring a receipt that I have paid my joining fee. The name of the foreman is Zachariah Ndlovu, and the other one is Vincent Mkhize. Both of them are Inkatha members. They said - the two of them approached me, they said I must join Inkatha. One is a the foreman, the other one was working at the canteen, but he is an Inkatha member, he's a staunch member.
Where are they staying? --- One is staying at One North(?). I am not sure about his address, but I know where he stays. One of them is at Mpumalanga, the other one is at Zwathini. Vincent Mkhize is at Mpumalanga.
Is there anything that you want to say? --- Now this disturbed me, and I instituted appeal proceedings and I was called back at work. Now they said because I had not joined Inkatha I ended up seeing a certain letter written. The last time they said I was the one who had written the letter, but I could see that I was being planted simply because I didn't want to join Inkatha. Now that's the problem I have, because I want the law to take its course. I want the law to intervene in this matter, the manner in which my wife was killed as well as the manner in which I am being handled when I look for work. I request this Commission to do something which is going to lead to the review of our present law. We want our law to take its course. We want culprits to be prosecuted, to be brought to trial, and eventually punished for whatever they do.
MR LYSTER: Mr Xaba, is there anything that you wish to add to what your father has said? Sorry, there's no translation. --- I want the TRC to make sure that they update my father. I want the TRC to update my father as to whatever is happening in the case so that the people may be prosecuted. It's difficult for me to say I will forgive them. I want justice to take its course, then peace will follow later on. I would request the TRC to take its initiative and make it a point that my father is informed of whatever steps that are being take at law, whether the people are being prosecuted, they are being brought to book, and they are being punished. Because we are trying to run away from a situation whereby other victims, especially human rights abuse victims, take the law into their own hands. This is a situation that we do not desire. We want our Courts to do their job to prosecute the criminals or former members of Inkatha.
MR LYSTER: We thank you both very much for coming here today to tell us about the very sad death of your wife and your mother, and we are glad that you were able to stand here - or sit here together on the stage and talk about that incident. We will certainly do everything we can to see that the person who you believe was responsible for this, and who has in fact admitted responsibility, is brought to justice. And we will, as you have requested, keep you updated on whatever we do.
We will be making, as you have heard me say, recommendations to the Government as to how people like you should be assisted, and we feel sure that the President in his wisdom will put the appropriate steps into action to see that those people like yourself who were victims of human rights violations are assisted.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... to tell your story today, and you, like others this morning, are from Mpophomeni, and this statement that you will give, this evidence that you will give, relates to the torture that you suffered at the hands of the South African Police in 1989. Before you give that evidence please will stand up and take the oath.
MRS GCABASHE: Good day, Mr Mnigathi. We are glad that you are here to tell us in details about your suffering at Mpophomeni location. We are glad that you are here, and most of the people from Mpophomeni have also came here to testify. Before we go on I would like you to tell us more about your family, your own family. --- We are 17, four girls, three boys (sic). Both parents have died.
Now we would like you to tell us more what happened up until where you were tortured. --- The day I got myself injured I heard a rumour that Inkatha people were coming to attack, and then we were all alert. We tried to delay, not to go to sleep in time, but because it was late at night and we were busy patrolling like, so we went in one house, Mbambo house, we went there. Because it was cold we opened the heater so that we got ourselves warm. Before we could even be warm we heard a knock at the door. We went at the door, and these people at the door said they were policemen. Mr Mbambo let them in and they asked us, "Who is the owner of this house?" And he said, "I am the one," and then they said me and this other guy we must go outside, and outside they said, "You must stand here." We stood there. They came out and they searched us, and they said to us we must go to the police van. It was parked outside at the street. When we arrived there we found two black policemen, because these two who took us from the house were white. And then they said to the owner of the house he must stand behind the van, and the two of us we must be in front of the van. And they turned the lights and then they said this other one must leave.
You can go on now. --- They said to this other guy who was standing with me he must leave, and they said to me, "Where are the guns?" I said, "I don't have guns." They said, "You will give us the guns." They said to me we must - they took me inside the van at the back of the police van. We went, and I didn't know where they were taking us, but as I was looking through the window, looking in front, at the front seat they were three. We went to the stadium in a township.
Were there other people there? --- No, there was no one. And when we arrived at the stadium at the gate there were two poles, concrete poles. They said I must get out from the car and I must put my hands around the poles. And when I tried to do that they started hitting me using a sjambok, and then they said these two black policemen must hold my hands so that they can beat me. They went on and on beating me. They were not beating me in front, they were just beating me at my back. And then they sprayed me by tear gas and they handcuffed me. I didn't know how to shake off the tear gas because my hands were handcuffed. They took a tube and they tied my face, and they continued asking me if I know the guns. I confessed, I said to them, "I do know the guns," even though I didn't know the guns. I said - because I was in pain. I just said so because I wanted the to stop beating me. They kicked me. They said to me I must leave. I started walking, but I didn't have enough strength so I walked - I didn't walk that far and then I sat down. And then they opened the van and then they said to this other guy he must run. And he didn't want to run, he didn't want to turn back. He kept on walking looking at them. And then after a while I heard a gunfire, and then I was too tired. I started walking back home. I didn't sleep, I just took a bath and I was getting ready to go to the doctor.
MR LYSTER: Thank you, Mr Mnikathi. We have heard your story of how you were tortured in 1989. We have heard so many stories like yours over the past months in different parts of the country, but it still shocks us to hear a story like yours, particularly when we hear that it was the police who did this to you, people who should have been here to protect and assist us, but instead very often did exactly the opposite. They intimidated, harassed and shot people who opposed the previous Government, and we hope that with the advent of democracy and liberation that we have achieved that this is a thing of the past, although we still know that in many - in some parts of our country the police still have to undergo transformation and change in their attitudes towards people. The sorts of things that you suffered in Mpophomeni are by and large a thing of the past.
We will make recommendations to the Government as to how you, and other people like you, should be assisted, and you will be advised of that at a later stage. But your evidence has helped to paint a picture of what circumstances and conditions were like in those days, and we thank you for coming to the Commission and sharing your experiences with us, and we again thank you and wish you well as you go. Thank you very much.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... to tell your story, and you are from Sobantu here in Pietermaritzburg, and you have come to tell us about the torture at the hands of the Security Branch of the South African Police in 1976. Before ... (inaudible) ... you to stand and take the oath.
DR MAGWAZA: Good day, Mr Mchunu. We appreciate your presence. Can you just start by telling us about yourself. It's the first time we see you. We would like to know more about you. Just tell us briefly, is there any political organisation that you are affiliated to, and how old were you when this happened? --- I was born in Sobantu in 1953. We are seven in my family. Then it's my mother, my father died. He passed away in 1982. I have got four sisters and two brothers. I am the last one.
In your statement you have alleged that you were harassed because you tried - you were trying to leave this country and go to the outside countries, but they arrested you even before you went out. Just give us a background as to what happened before you tried to skip the country. --- I'll start from September the 11th in 1976. We moved because of the past regime, which was not compassionate. It hated blacks, there was apartheid, they didn't want to see a black person in South Africa. We were being treated like slaves and animals. We realised that the only way was for us to skip the country, leave South Africa, leave the land of oppression, go outside, learn about arms and ammunitions, as well as war, so that we may come back and fight for our oppressed people.
You may continue. --- When we got arrested at Durban Station we were taken, put into cars. We were separated. There were quite a lot of cars. We were driven. You could have thought that we had killed so many people in South Africa the way the boers were surrounding the Durban Station. They had every type of dog and every type of gun you could ever see. And we were only seven that were getting arrested. We were taken and put into cars, brought back to 'Maritzburg. When we got into Loop Street Police Station they started blowing their horns, and policemen started showing their faces right at the tops of the building. They were making all these sorts of noises. They were whistling, calling us bridesmaids and brides. Our hands were tied as well as our feet. We were being taken up right at the top of the building. That's where we were separated, we were put into different rooms. Each and every one of us had his own room. That's where it started. They asked me as to what had I gone to do in Durban. I told them I had gone to visit my friend in Durban. They said no, I was lying, I had plans of my own. I flatly denied that. That's when they started assaulting me. They told me that I was going to tell them all the truth. I was being kicked, assaulted. At about 10 o'clock I told them - I admitted to them that I was actually a passer-by in Durban, I didn't plan to stay in Durban. That's what I wanted to tell them, because there was absolutely nothing else that I could say. I told them that I was just a passer-by. Then they said, "Oh, you were a passer-by." They asked me about the ones who left during 1975 as to their whereabouts, the ones who were at Sobantu. I denied any knowledge of those people, and I denied ever knowing where they got to. They told me I was lying and they continued assaulting me. They undressed me. They took gravel stones, they put them in my shoes. They said to me I must wear these shoes, put my feet inside. They tied the shoes so tightly. They said I must skip or jump 100 times, and the stones were pricking my feet underneath. I kept on hopping. I was being assaulted with fists, especially in the stomach. I was being told that I was going to tell the truth. They took a towel, made it wet and tied it into a knot, and assaulted me with it on the face. They said I was going to tell them the truth as it is. I should tell them about the 1975 people. I flatly denied knowledge of it. They said to me, "Oh, you don't want to talk." They brought a rope, they tied it in my penis. They took two very big books, they tied them in my penis. They said if I fall they would hit me with the fist, and each time I was falling, losing balance, they kept on hitting me. I just couldn't keep on standing with all those heavy things on me. I ended up falling down. They undressed me. They took the towel, they blindfolded me with it. They ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 3) ... they were changing each other, giving each other a chance to assault me. At about five in the morning they put me down. that's when I lost consciousness. When I regained consciousness I was in Mooi River. I don't know how I got to Mooi River. It was on a Monday when I regained my consciousness, and I remember losing consciousness on a Sunday morning. I asked the policeman as to where I was. He told me I was in Mooi River. I asked him how I came to Mooi River. He said to me when I arrived I was a corpse, I was dead. When I was asking that I was flat on the floor, lying on the ground. My whole body was aching because they were jumping on top of my body with boots, and my hands were tied so that I couldn't defend myself or fend off the attackers. I stayed there in Mooi River. I was eating porridge twice a day. On Saturday I would get the porridge thrice. Until I spoke the truth I would eat the porridge for three months, and I wouldn't wash. I was going to drink water from a plate like a dog, and I would kneel down like a dog and crawl when I drink this water. I had lice because I didn't wash. I had one blanket to sleep. I was put in a shack in Mooi River. I was told that I was going to speak the truth. If I wanted water they told me that I wasn't going to get any water. They gave me water in a plate, and when I finished drinking that water they would tell me that I would get my ration on another day. At times I would drink rainwater, because there was a hole in this little cell and when water was dripping I would drink that water that dripped from the roof. That was all I could get.
Were you taken to Hilton Prison? Just tell us what happened at Hilton Prison. --- I was taken from Mooi River. It was in December. I was taken from Mooi River to Hilton. When I got to Hilton I was also kept in custody. I stayed in Hilton. The station commander asked me as to what was actually happening to me, when was I arrested. I told him it was quite some time. He told me that he could see it because I was emaciated. I looked like I had been buried and exhumed. I told him that I had a very difficult time where I was. I wasn't given water to wash.
What happened in Hilton? Were you also harassed and tortured? --- Also at Hilton I encountered some problems because I got sick. I had a sore throat, I had ulcers in my throat. Those who had arrested us were phoned and they said I mustn't be taken to the doctor because I wanted to run away. They brought me some medicine to gargle. I used that medicine to gargle. I couldn't even eat. A week ended with me that taking that treatment and I felt slightly better. In Hilton I was taken out. I never appeared in court. I was never even told as to when I was supposed to appear in court. I was just released. I was told I must just go out. We hear the difficulties that you've been through, but I just want to ask you a few questions with regard to your story. Let me just take you back a little bit. You said at the time that they tortured you they kept on asking you as to whether you knew the people who went out in 1975. Did you know those people? --- Yes, I did. They were too many. There were many people that I knew who went away in 1975, and I didn't know all of them. Yes, I did know them, but I couldn't tell each and every one of them, and I didn't know where they had gone to.
The police who tortured you, you say it was Potgieter, Meyer, Mbatha. Where are they now? Have you ever seen them? --- There are police who were fetched specifically from Newcastle. There was also a policeman whose name was Mbatha in Newcastle. Driemeyer and Potgieter are police who worked in Loop Street. I don't know whether they are still working in Loop Street. Driemeyer, as the captain of those police who were working there in 1970, he knows them exactly because they are his subordinates.
What about the Mooi River police, do you know any of them? --- Yes, I do know them. I was taken by the police here in Loop Street to Mooi River, then they were told that they must ill-treat me. I asked them why were they ill-treating me, then they told that they had got a special directive to ill-treat me.
It is clear that you were severely tortured and you didn't get any help. How is your health now? How are you feeling? Is there anything that changed within you after you were tortured, something that still affects you even today? --- In my torture when I got out of that place I had thought that I had lost my mind, because I was put there in solitary confinement for one year two months. I sat there inside, I couldn't go out. I didn't know whether it was raining, shining, whether it was winter or summer. They were killing me emotionally. They were just finishing me off, because when I went out of that place I had to be taken to traditional healers so that my mind could function properly, because at that time I kept on losing my mind. I didn't want to stay with people because I was so used to being alone.
What about physically? --- Well, physically my ribs, two of my ribs were affected. When I go to doctors about one ailment, like maybe taking x-ray, they usually ask me what happened to my ribs and how are my ribs. Then I remember that by the way I got injured.
You say you can't get a job because there are certain things that disturb you. --- Yes, there are certain things that are hindering my progress. When I get a job I just work for two weeks, then thereafter I get chased. It is those very boers who arrested me. They are still continuing to do it even now.
Maybe we want to give you some hope that probably since things have changed you may be lucky. Lastly, Mr Mchunu, you may answer this question if you wish, and you may not if you don't wish. As old as you are in your life, when we try to collect the scattered pieces of our lives we would like to sit down and plan a family. Is there something that's troubling you that makes you not to start a family? Do you have a wife, or what is happening? --- No, I don't have a wife.
MR MAGWAZA: Thank you very much. I'll say this once more to you. We would like to encourage you, support you to start building your life, picking up the pieces of your life, trying to build yourself a future. You still have a bright future. We thank you.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... the witness before you, Mr Mnikathi, you were tortured by members of the South African Police, and you suffered terribly at their hands, and for those of us who have not experienced this sort of violation we can only imagine what it must be like to live month after month in a small cell, eating porridge, drinking rainwater, and being abused and assaulted. It is even more shocking that these things were done to you by the police, who were permitted by the Government at that time to abuse, harass, torture, and even kill citizens of this country. As I have said before, we hope that those days have passed. We know that at least one of the police who did these things to you is still acting as a policeman in a senior capacity, and that is one of the things that we will follow up.
We will also make recommendations to the Government as to how victims like you, or people like you who have suffered so badly, should be assisted by the Government. We thank you for coming to tell us your story today, and hope that just by telling it it has made it easier for you to come to terms with what happened to you. Thank you again for coming in and talking to us.
MR LYSTER: The next witnesses will be coming onto the stage together. They are Mrs Thobekile Maphumulo and Mrs Nombulelo Maphumulo. If they could please come onto the stage. Which one is Mrs Thobekile Maphumulo? Can you hear me and understand me, Mrs Maphumulo?
MR LYSTER: You have both come here today to tell us about the tragic death of your husband. You are the first and the second wives of the late Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo. You are from 'Maritzburg, Mrs Thobekile and ... (incomplete)
MR DLAMINI: I won't start by greeting you because I have already greeted you. Mr Chairman, I would like to first start with the statement from both Mrs Maphumulo. They will give us their testimony. They will give each other a chance. They will us their testimony in details. I would like to start by calling Mrs Thobekile Maphumulo. After her I'll speak to Mrs Nombulelo. Mrs Thobekile, you stayed much longer with your husband before he died so you have more to tell us about him, but because of time, we are very much sorry, we would like you to just summarise and just give us more details about what happened on those specific dates rather than the whole thing. We apologise and we will like to pass our praises to people who lost their fathers and sons. Mrs Maphumulo, as far as you've known your husband your husband was a very good person. Is it like that? --- Yes, it's like that.
And again as far as you've known your husband people used to like your husband because he was a person - or someone who was working for people with people. He was the chief of the people by the people. --- Yes, that's what I know.
Would you please give us more details about children. We would like to know how many children your husband had. --- My husband had eight kids. Mine are only three. The first one it's Nhlaganipho. He is at M L Sultan. Buwiso he is in college, and the last-born he is at ... (inaudible) ... North.
This Maqonqo place, was it a peaceful place, because according to your statement this was a peaceful place until you experienced problems, chieftainship problems, and these chieftainship problems took forms of politics. It was more like political motives. Was there any harassment or torture that you've experienced, because your husband died while you were not at home, you went to a conference? --- No, I just came back from the conference and I just left for work, and at work I received a call. I think it was quarter past to half past eight. The person didn't identify himself or herself, the person just said, "Mrs Maphumulo, your house has been burnt down." And again at work I received another call and they told me, "Mrs Maphumulo, your house has been burnt down." After that I've fell down, I was unconscious, and after being discharged from hospital they took me to my mother's house. At that time my husband wasn't at home, he was in Cape Town with Nombulelo. After two weeks I went with my sister-in-law to see the damage. When we came at my house where there was a bed you could see because of the stands. Everything has been burnt down, and you could see that they were using gas cylinders. What I really know is that some of the things, like some of things have been taken out before they could burn my house.
Thanks, Mrs Maphumulo. We are very sorry that so much happened to you, but because of time we won't be able to hear the whole story. We will just like to hear more about your husband's death. --- I don't know where to start, but it was on the 25th February 1991. I left work and I went home. As I have said that after my house had been burnt I went to Dambuza to stay with my mother, and my two children were with Nombulelo at Umtata, because the other one was at the pre-school, and Nhlaganipho was at college. In the morning on the 25th usually when he was from Mrs Shembe he used to come and fetch me and then leave me at work. Sometimes he used to tell me, "I won't come and fetch you, you can take public transportation to work." On the 25th I asked myself, "How come he is not "coming to fetch me, because it's my pay day and I want to go and do some grocery, and also deposit money for Nombulelo for the kids?" And then something told me to make a call, but then I decided to leave, and I told Bhumi that, "If he comes you must tell him that I've already gone." He was the kind of person who didn't like to spoil us. Sometimes he would want us to take public transportation. When I went home I stayed until it was late at night, and I went to bed. I heard a noise which scared me. When you are going to my house the route to my house it's not nice, and I heard two people screaming my name, my sister and my sister-in-law, and they called me by my son's name. And I opened the door for them, and when I opened the door I just thought that, "Oh, maybe something had happened." I thought there was something happened to my mother-in-law. And my sister said, "I don't want someone who doesn't have trust. As you know that your husband - they want to kill your husband, and now they have done that."
As we know that this is a very, very sad story, Mrs Maphumulo, you can take your time. Take it easy. Just give yourself time. We will wait for you. Thanks. (Pause) --- I don't know what happened after that.
Don't rush yourself. Please take time. (Pause) --- What really happened is that they took me to my sister-in-law's house. Louwfontein Road, that's where she was staying. My mother-in-law was not told because we were scared that something might happen to her, and my sister-in-law advised me not to tell her. The following day - what was very sad is that Mrs Shembe, who was with him, never tried to contact his family. By the way, who is Mrs Shembe? --- Mrs Shembe is one of his wives, my husband's wife.
Please don't rush yourself, Mrs Maphumulo. Take your time. (Pause) --- We stayed there and people from our church from different areas came, and Mrs Shembe didn't come and stay with us as she was supposed to do. And what was very sad again is that I only identified my husband through his passport because I couldn't find things that I needed in order to identify him. Up until today Mrs Shembe didn't come and explain to us. What I heard is that she said she didn't see what happened, and she didn't take him to hospital, neighbours did.
It's very sad that your close relative experience hard time, and someone that you think is in your shoes doesn't show the same thing. --- Up until today I never met her, I never heard anything from her, and one would expect her to explain more because my husband died while he was in her house.
In one of your statements you mentioned that you wish that the Commission can investigate more about your husband's death. Maybe there is evidence that you would like to bring forward, evidence that you think no one ever paid attention. PAGE J when he passed his judgment said, "Your husband has been killed by unknown people," but Sipho Madlala, the one that they suspected him ... (incomplete)
Those who are working in our investigation team they will bring all the evidence that Sipho Madlala has brought forward. We will see if we can do something. And another thing that you've requested it's help about counselling, you need psychological help, counselling or therapy. Are you still looking for that help? --- Yes, I still do, more especially to my kids, because my kids are showing anger and hatred. Even when they speak you can tell that one day these kids will do something very bad.
Besides that how is their health? --- They are well, except for one who is at the college, because the matron from the college said - I took her to Dr Makhoba and I took her back to boarding school, and the matron said she is okay.
I would like to proceed to Mrs Nombulelo Maphumulo so that she says her part, so that when all the Commissioners are asking questions they'll have a full picture, the whole picture of what really happened. Mrs Nombulelo Maphumulo, I would like to express my condolences from the Commission, young as you are to experience such a terrible sad thing because of someone. As I have said that Mr Maphumulo, or Chief Maphumulo was someone that we used to respect because of his doings. We won't talk into details about what he did, we will just talk about what actually happened on the night of the 25th. I would like to ask you about children, how many kids you have, and are they in school or what? --- He left me with one kid who died after three weeks, and this happened before the father could see the child. The father died three weeks after I gave birth to this kid, and when the father died this happened before he could see his child.
As you see your child how is your child? --- This child has got asthma. He is okay except that he's got asthma, and when I called home this morning he told me to say hi to Mom Thobekile and his father. And when I told him that, "No, your father is no longer alive," so he says, "Okay." This child has never seen his father.
How does this affect you? --- This is really affecting me very bad, but the thing is I knew that my husband wasn't going to live for a long time. I remember one time when he was leaving for Lusaka he said to me, "I am going to leave you a photograph, because when I am dead you won't hear from me or from anyone, you will heard it from the news, because I don't have long time to live now." And the way we hurried to get married I knew from that time that I was going to - he was going to get married. I am a Christian, I believe in God, and that's what gives me strength.
Can you please explain to us, in your statement it seems as if there's some knowledge or light that you can shed. Because we are going to conduct an investigation, we want to know how this matter started. --- There's a person that you say used to go by your place, and you suspected the person, his behaviour and the questions that he used to ask. Just shed some light on that person please. --- There's a person who was my husband's friend. I know his name, but I don't want to mention his name because I want the investigators to do their job. This person, who was my father's friend, went to stay in Umtata, where I was staying with my husband's children. This man used to come every day at my place and ask me as to what Thobekile is saying about my husband's death. I used to say to him there's nothing to say. At times he would even wait when I had gone out. And when I phoned my mother he would ask what was being said, and I would say nothing was said. As he used to come almost every day at my place one particular day he told me that my patio door that had a couch in front o it, that won't ever be seen by any body that it was open. He asked me whether I knew that my patio door was open. I asked him how he saw it, because I knew that nobody would be able to come in because there is a certain manner in which we close the door, and a person who doesn't know my place wouldn't be able to open that door, or know that it's not closed. That made me doubt, because probably there's something that he tried to do but he wasn't able. And the third time this man came into the house it was at night. It was round about nine. I didn't see him with my own eyes because I was asleep. My children were watching TV at the lounge. They say it was 9 o'clock. This man went through the patio door and came to my bedroom window. That really didn't matter. Then later on, when I got a call - I didn't doubt or ask myself as to why he had done that, then thereafter I got a call which told me that there is a person in Umtata who has been put there to kill all the Maphumulo children. I didn't really believe that, but on that very same day I received a call in Umtata. I got the message from a certain house. I will mention the person who brought me the message. He said I must be told that there is a certain person who was pretending to be Maphumulo's friend, but he wasn't really Maphumulo's friend. He had been sent to come and kill the Maphumulo family. Now, when I got this call I was told that a person was being planted in Umtata. I reported this matter to the police. The police came, they stood guard at my house. This man came as usual. On this very day he didn't stay for long. I asked him why on that day he was going around in circles in my house, because usually he gets into the house and sits. The answer that still puzzles me even today is that he said to me, "I had come to tender the grass." This answer still puzzles me even today, because I want this person to tell me how he could want to tender grass at 9 o'clock in the evening? What sort of grass was that? What did he mean by that?
Is there anything that you want to say, Mrs Maphumulo? --- One other thing is that another friend of Maphumulo was behaving in a very mysterious manner. I remember three occasions where I had taken him to the taxi. Each time I was from buying him Kentucky or provision I wouldn't get him at the taxis, and he used to come and visit me in the house. He was from Natal. On the second occasion I took him to the bus, to the Translux bus. I went to buy that particular person something. When I came back to bring it he wasn't there ... (incomplete - end of Side A, tape 4) ... I went out. I came back and he wasn't there in the taxi. Then on the way to Kokstad, when I was driving to Kokstad, I saw the person hiking along Dabankulu. This is the person that I had made to board to a taxi to wherever he was going.
We thank you very much, Mrs Maphumulo, because this kind of testimony is helpful for us to try and retrace the steps. We've heard your request that you want this matter to be re-investigated and the case re-opened. We shall take that into consideration, as well as your request to be helped with supporting the children. Such requests are taken as recommendations and sent to the State President. He is the one who takes a resolution as to what should be done. When he weighs the evidence that has been given then he decides what should be done in each particular circumstances. I would like to hand over to the Chairman.
DR MGOJO: Just a question with regard to Nkosi Maphumulo, Chief Maphumulo. We were very close. He was one of the chiefs with whom I have worked closely in 'Maritzburg. I want to know whether you know Sipho Madlala's whereabouts? --- No, we don't know him. We don't know where he is. We last saw him on the day of the inquest. We never saw him again.
We just want to clarify this little matter to set the record straight. When Chief Maphumulo died his followers were harassed, especially the ones who were with him at the time of his death. At that time when he died I kept some of them at the seminary. What I knew is that he had already got himself bodyguards because his life was threatened. On the day of his death where were his bodyguards? --- According to the testimony that we got in court it's as if he was all by himself at the time he was killed. We don't know where the bodyguards went. Maybe Ma Shembe would be of assistance to you with regard to that question.
MR LYSTER: Mrs Maphumulo, the both of you, we have with us a number of newspaper cuttings relating to your husband. Some of them concern statements which he made while he was still alive, and other cuttings relate to his death and his funeral. One of the cuttings relates to an assassination attempt on your husband in 1990 in the Table Mountain area. Do you recall that event? --- Yes, I do remember that. Firstly he had gone to a meeting where he took a taxi, and then Deda Hlope, as well as two other men from the Kunene family - I don't remember the other one - they hired a car. Then he took a taxi. It means they were following him because they knew that he was getting to the meeting. At the time that they shot at him they were sure that they were shooting him, only to find they were shooting Deda, who was driving the car at that particular time. Then the two Mr Kunenes died.
(Inaudible) ... time your husband was driving in front of the vehicle in which Mr Alson Kunene and Mr Nelson Kunene were travelling, and they passed a large group of armed men, and it seems clear that what happened is that the group of men believed that your husband was travelling in the vehicle with Mr Alson and Mr Nelson Kunene, and these two men, who were friends of your husband, were killed when hundred of bullets, literally hundreds of bullets, were fired into the vehicle in which they were travelling. I'll also quote from another newspaper report here in March 1991, which says that,
"KwaZulu Cabinet circles and among militant Inkatha supporting chiefs in the Pietermaritzburg area about Chief Maphumulo's policy of non-alignment, which has resulted in the peaceful co-existence of UDF and Inkatha members in his area, Maqonqo, near Table Mountain. Chief Maphumulo recently made newspaper headlines when he threw a party in his area to celebrate 15 years of peaceful reign over Maqonqo. The party was attended by COSATU and Inkatha officials, and it saw young Comrades rubbing shoulders with hundreds of traditional stick-carrying warriors. Although he was praised from many quarters for his strong neutral stance in the midst of political violence Chief Maphumulo said that there was strong opposition to his policy of non-alignment from Inkatha chiefs ruling over the wartorn Vulindlela district."
It's clear to us from what we know about your husband, both of you, and you know that better than we do, that your husband was a peacemaker. He was famous man, and he had the widespread support of people from the UDF and Inkatha people in the Table Mountain area. It seems clear that the fact that he successfully brought these two groups together, that this was seen as a threat in some political circles, and it is a terrible, terrible tragedy that someone of his calibre should have died for such a noble cause.
Although you have suffered a terrible loss we hope that it is of some comfort to you to know that your husband was and still is a heroic figure to many thousands of people, and we also hope that you have been able to give each other support and comfort by coming here today and sitting together and telling us the story of your husband's death.
As my colleague, Mr Dlamini, has said, we will make every effort to ensure that this investigation goes forward, and that the person/people responsible for the death of your husband are brought to justice.
We thank you for coming to talk to us today, particularly to Mrs Nombulelo Maphumulo, who came all the way from Umtata, and we wish to every strength as you go. Thank you again very much for coming to talk to us.
MR LYSTER: You have come to tell your story today. You have been very patient, you have waited most of the day. You have come to us from Mpophomeni township near Howick, and you have come to tell us about the death of your husband.
MR LYSTER: Mrs Ngcobo, your statement relates to the death of your husband, so you are now a widow. Do you still have children who are residing with you, or near you, or supporting you? --- I don't have kids who are working. I only - my husband's brothers took two of my kids to take them to school for me.
Mrs Ngcobo, you wanted to tell us about two incidents. The first was an attack upon yourself in 1991. I think it was then that your house was burnt. That was in April 1991, 24th of April. Can you tell us what happened on that day? --- It was at about 8 o'clock pm. I had two kids. One was two years old and the other one was born in 1973. At about 8 o'clock I heard something hitting me from the back. My husband was in his bedroom. He was off on that night because his work was the security guard of the school. I heard something hitting me from the back and I knew that it was a gunshot. I fell down. And they hit again and bullets came from the wall. And my husband came from the bedroom. He came rushing and asked, "What's going on?" And people were surrounding the windows. I don't know whether they held my husband, because he went out to check and I tried to run. I ran to the maize field and I left the kids, the two kids, behind. And the girl told me he left through the window and one kid was left inside. And then they set the house - they set the house on fire. I slept on that maize field. I didn't see what was going on inside the house. All I heard is that my husband as well was burnt.
So, just to go over some of that evidence again, Mrs Ngcobo, after you were shot, and after your husband came through to see what was wrong with you, you saw people actually setting the house on fire. This is how you have put it in your statement. Is that right? --- Yes, that's what I saw, and I tried to ran into the maize field. So I've hidden there. I didn't see them when they were burning my husband. We only found ashes.
(Inaudible) ... or what political organisation he belonged to? Do you know why he should have wanted to burn your house down? --- Yes. They said, "Why don't we agree to go with the king or the chief?" because these two boys from my family didn't want to belong to that.
(Inaudible) ... didn't want to come under the chief? You said there were two boys from your family. --- They were my brother's kids. I didn't have a son. They were my brother's kids, or rather my brother-in-law's kids.
(Inaudible) ... said in your statement that you were then taken to Edendale Hospital. You were taken to Greys Hospital and then to Edendale Hospital. --- Yes, and after I left there I went to the induna, and the induna took me, and those were the people who called the ambulance to take me to hospital.
And when you were in hospital your brother came to tell you that your husband had been found in the house, that he had died in the house, is that right? --- Yes. One boy - and that's my brother's son - came and told me, because I didn't see what really happened. And the policemen from ... (inaudible) ... came and told me.
Mrs Ngcobo, you said that you still are suffering from the bullet wound that you received, is that correct? You said you still had the bullet in your body, is that right? --- I have seven bullets in my body, and one of my eyes can't see.
(Inaudible) ... that you recall relating to your husband's death? --- The Indian who came and took the statement never came back to me to tell me when to go to court, so even if there was a case I never attended one.
And the two boys that you said lived in your house, your brother-in-law's children, were they active in one or other political party? You said that they did not wish to be under the chief. --- They are ANC guys and they are staying at Imbali now.
You said in your statement, Mrs Ngcobo, that you had operations on your back to try and remove some of the pellets that are in your body, but they have not been completely successful because the left side of your body is not functioning properly. --- Yes, I had an operation, one at the front and one at the back, and another one at my ribs.
MR LAX: Thank you, Chairperson. Mrs Ngcobo, I just need you to clarify something. It's about the correct name and gender of Phindi Mngadi. People have been referring to Phindi as a male person. Is that correct, or is it in fact a female? --- It's a guy.
Mrs Ngcobo, I have a question that I would like to clarify. I just want to hear whether - how many kids you have. You told us about your brother's kids. --- One girl, and one boy whom I am staying with. My girl is staying at Imbali, and this girl is in standard eight. I only have two kids.
When I look at your situation, you can't work and you are now old. You're approaching 60 now. Did you try to look for a pension? --- No, I don't have someone who can really assist me, like someone who can take me, show me where to go.
Thanks very much, Mrs Ngcobo. We understand how you are suffering and how you have suffered so far. Like I said, some of the things we can be able to help you now, and some we just pass them to the State President to try and help. Thank you.
MR LYSTER: (Inaudible) ... or your husband members of any party, or active in any political party? --- No. At the time these things - these political activists were not there. It was nothing except for chief and Amakhozi thing.
Mrs Ngcobo, thank you for coming in today and telling us your very, very sad story. We can only imagine the terror that you must have experienced having been shot in your own house, running to hide in a field outside, and lying there bleeding from your wounds and watching as your house burned down with your husband inside it. On top of these terrible memories you have lost your partner and your breadwinner, and we express our deep sympathy to you.
You have heard my colleague, Dr Magwaza, say that we will be making recommendations to the Government as to how you, and other people like you, can be assisted. We hope that you feel a little better having told your story here in public, having drawn it to our attention, with the hope that you can receive assistance in the future.
MR LYSTER: The next and the final witness for today is Mr Sibekapi Bangizwe Shelembe ... (inaudible) ... come from Mpophomeni township and you have come to tell us about the time that you were shot by the police with your friend, who was killed in the same incident. This took place in 1990. Before you tell us that story please will you stand and take the oath.
DR MGOJO: We appreciate your presence, Mr Shelembe. I think your story is going to be the easiest because it's very common. We have been dealing with Mpophomeni shootings for the past two days. But just tell me, before you went to Mpophomeni where were you staying? --- I am from Impendle originally.
In your statement you are going to talk about yourself as well as your friend, Mr Mnigathi. Could you please tell us what happened as from 1990. --- It was in the morning. We saw people from the chief's place heading towards Mpophomeni from Chief Mkhize's place. Some were coming from Haza's place. They were coming towards Mpophomeni to attack. When they got there we were there in the street, and we also saw police standing right there at the top at the chief's place. And there were also Hippos there, Casspirs, and they were shooting towards our direction. The police were also there, and the police came towards us and they started shooting.
Who is this friend who was staying at Amakwavabeni? --- It was at Mkethelwa's place. When the Casspir approached us when they got to us they never said anything, they just started shooting us. I heard Mkethelwa screaming, and he was running to the opposite direction. I discovered that I was shot twice in my leg. I started crawling and I hid myself. I just continued crawling, I couldn't walk. As I was hiding under that long grass I tried to crawl towards a certain house, and I discovered that there were quite a number of people that had been injured. We were helped by Lucky, because he took us to the hospital in Greys. The people who shot us were police. Inkatha had not yet come to us at that time. I think it's the police who came first to shoot us. We were taken to the hospital. When we got there we were helped by Lucky. He's the one who took us to the hospital. My feet are aching, especially where I was shot. I can't walk properly. Lucky was the owner of a bottle store and he had a lorry, so he helped us by ferrying us to the hospital in his lorry because there were so many of us.
Did they ever tell you why they attacked you? --- I don't know. I just told myself it's the Government, but I didn't know what the Government was attacking us for because we were in our own homes, but I can say what we were being assaulted for.
At the time they operated what was happening? --- They told me that I had bullets inside my leg, and they were trying to take the bullets out. And they told me that they had taken the bullets out, but my leg is feeling very cold now. It's as if the bullets are still inside.
Now, as you've come to the Commission here we would like to advise you that you should go to see the physiotherapist. Would you be able to go back if the Commission helps you to go back? --- Yes, I would appreciate that. I can still go there. Maybe I can get some help now.
Now, how are you able to support your family as you having a temporary position? --- It's quite difficult to make ends meet. It's not like before when I was still working full-time. It's difficult to keep head above water because my wife also is very sick. She's a sickly person, and I usually ask her what the matter is. She seems to have been affected ever since I got injured. She was happy when I was still working, but now since I am sick ... (incomplete)
It means your getting injured affected her. --- Yes, it did affect her. She is also seeing doctors. What about the children? --- Some of them have even stopped going to school now. They are no longer attending school. They realise that it's high time they go and look for jobs, because the money that I was bringing at home was not sufficient for the whole family.
What are your expectations from this Commission? I don't mean it's going to happen, but I just want to know what your expectations are so that whatever you say may be passed on to the State President. --- I would ask the Government, because the Government is the one that got me to be in this state. I want the Government to give me pension. Yes, I would like the Government to grant me pension.
(Inaudible) ... I want to know whether you might be able to help us get a bit closer to a date when this thing happened. You've told us it was in 1990, and you said it was a Thursday, but that's all you've told us so far. Are you able to maybe help us a bit closer, with a month and maybe a date? --- I am not literate, but I can try to recall. That was the most difficult day in Mpophomeni.
MRS GCABASHE: Thank you. I want to hear from you about the family of Mnigathi who died there. What happened to his family? --- The Mnigathi family was then harassed. They were very close to me. Mr Mnigathi died, even his mother died immediately after their son's death, because their son had just finished school and he was working, and on this particular day he was visiting, and he died on that particular day. His mother died as a result of that.
MR LYSTER: Thank you, Mr Shelembe. You have waited the whole day to tell us your story, and this story helps us to understand the circumstances which prevailed in your area at the time of your shooting, and this in turn helps us to draft the report which we have to submit to the
You, like many others who have told us their stories here in Pietermaritzburg, and in many other places, were shot by the police, people who were meant to protect and assist us, but in fact did not do that. And on top of that, on top of the fact that you were shot, you had to suffer the shock of seeing your friend die. --- I didn't charge the police since they ... (incomplete - end of Side B, Tape 4)
We have heard what you have said and we will be making recommendations to the Government as to how people like you, you and other people like you, should be assisted, and we thank you once again for coming here and telling us your story, and we wish you well as you go. --- I would appreciate some help. I never got any help whatsoever.
MR LYSTER: That is the last witness for today. We will be resuming tomorrow morning again at 9.00 am. Please will everybody stand while the witnesses leave the room, just as a mark of respect for the witnesses. And please don't forget to leave your earphones in the hall. Please, that's very important.