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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 04 February 1997

Location DUDUZA

Day 1


Case Number JB01959/01ERKWA

CHAIRPERSON: Next we have ...

DR ALLY: Sarah Mabaso.

CHAIRPERSON: ... Ms Sarah Mabaso, Sarah Mabaso. I had thought that is what we said, this other one is not here.

DR ALLY: This relates to the same strike. So you can try and ...

CHAIRPERSON: But this one is more in the.

DR ALLY: Yes, this is an ANC person ...


DR ALLY: ... who was involved in the strike and the petrol bombs, but it is the same Ratanda strike.

CHAIRPERSON: Are you going to talk, are you going to talk? Okay. Sarah, we welcome you. Who has come with you?

MRS MABASO: Mr Mabaso as well as Anna Densey.

CHAIRPERSON: I see, that is good, as a family they must be worthy to your strength and you are welcome, all three of you. Sarah, can you stand up and take an oath. I had not even led you. Hello Sarah. Could, I had to lead you Sarah.

LINDIWE SARAH MABASO: (Duly sworn in, states).

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, thank you. Sarah, you too are going to tell us almost the same strike as Ndumo or another one where there was harassment to the workers. Can you please tell us that story?

MRS MABASO: That was in 1992, it was in September on the

22nd, on the 28th of September 1992. We were coming back from our work place, we had knocked off at five and we were already going home at that time and when we got to the Heidelberg Hostel something came and it hit the bus when we were coming back from work, that is Escourt.

CHAIRPERSON: And what happened to the bus?

MRS MABASO: We just saw something from the hostel, from the direction of the hostel, it came inside the bus. When this thing came I did not see, I only saw it when it was inside and inside the bus there was smoke and even this apparatus that was thrown inside caused an explosion and the windows of the bus broke and we also saw some fire within the bus itself and the tyres of the bus burst to such an extent that the bus could not be driven any further, but the driver of the bus tried to drive the bus slowly even though it was without tyres so that he could drop us off at the bus stop, so that we could move from the hostel, because there was danger and we got to the residential area.

When we got to the bus stop I got off the bus and we were running away from the bus because at that time the bus was alight, it was on fire and we were actually running for our lives. When we got there some vans came to take us and ferry us to the hospital.

CHAIRPERSON: What did you say, that instrument that was thrown into the bus came from, who could have been responsible for that?

MRS MABASO: I would not know where that came from, because I did not see. When this bus started catching fire I never even thought of looking back to see as to which direction that came from. My concern was to save my life because the bus was now alight, it was on fire and we wanted to save our lives.

CHAIRPERSON: And thereafter was there not talk amongst you or in the community, who could have thrown that instrument into the bus and why could he have done that?

MRS MABASO: No, even today we have not heard as to who actually threw that instrument in the bus, because even when we went to the hospital we were talking and we thought that as time went on, we could possibly hear as to what had happened that day and we could get a clue as to who threw the instrument into the bus.

CHAIRPERSON: Was all fine and normal at work? Were there not factions or was there not a strike at work? The question is, sorry.

MRS MABASO: We were actually from a boycott, we had actually boycotted. We wanted our salaries to be increased and we were coming back from work at that time. When this happened we had already returned to work. I think it was about a week after we had returned to work when the bus was attacked. When this happened it happened on a Monday and we were coming back from work so, I could not say it was related to the strike. As to why it happened I have no clue. Even today I do not have any clue as to what was the cause, what the reason.

CHAIRPERSON: You see, we would want to know what could have caused that kind of a deed that nearly resulted in the loss of lives of the people, but if even thereafter it was still very difficult for the workers or the bus company, itself, to find out who was responsible, it makes our problem, it works, it makes our work very difficult. What company was that? That is the bus company?

MRS MABASO: It was our bus.

CHAIRPERSON: When you say, our bus.

MRS MABASO: It was an Escourt factory bus.

CHAIRPERSON: It was a factory bus? Sorry. Was it a factory bus?

MRS MABASO: No, it was a location bus or a bus that use to ferry people to and from the location.

CHAIRPERSON: And you never knew what company that bus was? Was it Putco?

MRS MABASO: It was not Putco, it was a Heidelberg bus. It was Mr Nkosi's bus. It was Mr Nkosi's bus.

CHAIRPERSON: Then, yes, how can we get exactly what could the matter have been. As you were on strike were there people in the township who were opposed to your strike much as it had ended at the time?

MRS MABASO: By the time we got injured the strike had already ended and we were back at work then.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, what I want to know is, during the strike were there people who were opposed to the strike?

MRS MABASO: No, there were not any.

CHAIRPERSON: There were not any. Okay, what has since happened to all those people who were taken into the hospital who were victims of that bus? They are all discharged?

MRS MABASO: Not all of us were discharged at the same time. Some were left at the hospital. We came out at our respective time, at different times. Some were left at the hospital and some of us went back to work.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, okay. Did you belong to any union?

MRS MABASO: Yes, I was a member of FAWU.

CHAIRPERSON: Of FAWU. Did FAWU not try to trace what could have been, what this could have been that was a danger to

its members?

INTERPRETER: The witness seems to be having a problem. She says she speaks Zulu. It could be possible that she is hearing Sotho over her earphones. She must tune in to three to get Zulu.

CHAIRPERSON: Please, help the group. Joe, can you make it possible for her to hear Zulu. Sorry.

JOE: It is on three.

CHAIRPERSON: Is on three. Yes, my question was you belonged to FAWU as a trade union.

MRS MABASO: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: And most of you in that bus were members of FAWU that day? Am I correct?

MRS MABASO: That is correct.

CHAIRPERSON: Now how, yes, my question is did FAWU ever make effort to find out what this accident could have been that nearly caused the loss of lives of its members?

MRS MABASO: No, it did not make any effort.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay, let me just stop there and leave members of the panel to ask questions if they have. Russell.

DR ALLY: Just a few questions and I will try to be very brief and I would just like to repeat the request of the Chairperson for the audience to please try and be as quiet as possible. We understand that it is hot and it is late in the afternoon, but it is very difficult to actually follow what the witnesses are saying if there is this constant noise coming from the audience. So, if we could please show the witnesses the necessary respect, because they are speaking about things that are very difficult and very painful and I think by us being quiet we actually show them that we respect them and that we appreciate them coming here to come and share these experiences with us. So, please, just to repeat what the Chairperson has said, can we have quiet.

Mrs Mabaso, did the police ever come to any of the workers, to you and take statements with regard to this incident?

MRS MABASO: They never came because we went to the hospital. They only came to the hospital to pick us up because the hospital was full and we could not be admitted and they picked us up and took us back to our respective homes. Only those who were severely injured were left, we were only going there for out-patients treatment. They never came to take any statements up to today.

DR ALLY: And you are not aware of anybody else who the police went to to take a statement?


DR ALLY: Anybody else? No. Now in your statement you actually mention Inkatha as the alleged perpetrators. You say and I am going to read from your statement. On our way we were attacked and the bus was petrol bombed by Inkatha supporters. Now, do you recall making this statement?

MRS MABASO: No, there should have been a mistake. I never mentioned Inkatha. I do not know anything about this statement. I know what I wrote. I wrote that on the 28th, no, I am sorry, this statement has a lot of mistakes. I am not the one who submitted the statement. The person who submitted the statement is not present at the moment. I know what statement I submitted.

DR ALLY: This is not your statement?

MRS MABASO: No, it is not. I think I am feeling a bit dizzy.

DR ALLY: Okay, I tell you, I think the best thing for us to do is to stop now and what we will do is we will try and clear up the confusion, because it could easily be our mistake that when we entered the statement, we may have mixed up numbers, because every statement which we enter into our database we give a specific number to and so let us leave that now because in your statement, I will not pursue this, because there were certain statements which you make where you implicate, this statement, not necessarily your statement, which implicates people and it is necessary for us to try and establish as much as possible so that we can go to those people who are mentioned and ask them to respond, but let us not pursue that now. Let us try and sort out this confusion and with the statement takers and with the briefers. At the end we will try and resolve this, but thanks very much for coming and sharing.

MRS SEROKE: I just, I would like to know as to whether Mr Mabaso was working at Escourt at that time?

MRS MABASO: No, he was not working for Escourt at that time.

MRS SEROKE: Because I thought he was also working at Escourt because we would have liked him to give his own statement.

CHAIRPERSON: Mrs Mabaso, we thank you and we are going to correct this errors, as Dr Russell has pointed out. Perhaps we shall still consult with you just to set the record straight. We thank you and Mr Mabaso and the friend who came with you. You can be assured that the record will be set straight. Thank you.

MR LEWIN: I think some people, we could either break now for five minutes or just take the last witness

CHAIRPERSON: Let us take the last witness.

MR LEWIN: Yes, thanks.

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