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Human Rights Violation Hearings


Starting Date 17 July 1996


Day 1


Case Number 00500

MR MALAN: Good afternoon Mrs Bopape and welcome. Is that a family member next to you? Your son? Welcome to you as well.

Firstly thank you for this document, the file that you've given us, we will certainly integrate this into our documents and we will study it. Before we hear your story will you please stand up.

FRANCINA BOPAPE: (sworn states)

DR ALLY: Mrs Bopape, you have come to the Truth Commission to speak about the disappearance of your son Stanza in 1988. I'm going to ask you to give us an account of these events of the background in your own words and in your own time.

MRS BOPAPE: Stanza Bopape was staying in Mamelodi. He was a member of the civil ...(indistinct) of Mamelodi. He left Mamelodi and went to Johannesburg, that's where he was arrested by the police in Hillbrow. They took him to John Vorster Square Police Station where we were told that Stanza left and ran away from the police while they were taking him to Vergenoegen. They said he stole the keys from one of the policemen and then he left them, they shot, they don't know where he went.

(The interpretation service will resume as soon as the witness has regained her composure).

They said we went to look for him, the father even went to Lusaka, they could not find him. Even now we don't know where Stanza is. I think that the police who were with him should come here and tell us where the bones are, even me so that I can be able to know where my son is.

(We'll wait again until she regains her composure)

DR ALLY: We'll wait until you can speak again because we know this is very difficult for you.

MRS BOPAPE: I am asking this Commission to assist me to find where Stanza is, and the police who killed him, if he's dead, to show us where they buried him, because it is a long time that we have been looking for him since 1988. Until today I don't know where my son is.

After that when we were told that Stanza was buried in Rustenburg, we went with his father to Shell House. Ben Nkosi told us that he's surprised when he heard the police saying that Stanza's run away, because they came to Stanza's cell, I was in Stanza's cell, that's where they took Stanza by hand and then they said he is Umkhonto so they took him to another cell. He said he only heard a gun sound from Stanza's cell.

His father died looking for Stanza, and the illness was caused by the disappearance of Stanza. Even me now, I'm sick, I'm ill because of Stanza's disappearance. I go around with doctors because of heart problems.

DR ALLY: While Mrs Bopape is just recomposing herself, just some of the background of the disappearance of Stanza that the audience be made aware of. According to the police account and this was an account which was also given by the then minister of police, Adriaan Vlok, while they were transporting Stanza from Johannesburg to the Vaal, the car in which they were travelling got a flat wheel. There were three policemen, according to this report, in the car with Stanza, Stanza at the time was handcuffed, all three policemen got out of the car to fix the puncture. Stanza apparently managed to get hold of keys to unlock himself, take off the handcuffs and fled and the police were not able to apprehend him. They claim that they shot but when they went to go and look they found nothing, and their official version was that he must have left the country and gone to join the ANC. Every effort was made to establish whether Stanza did go across the border, that was never established and until now that is still the official version which the police are sticking to, that Stanza freed himself, got off the car and fled.

MRS BOPAPE: I don't believe that Stanza released himself and disappeared. That is just a story, they killed my son. They say he disappeared. How could he be able to take the keys and release himself while he was handcuffed? I don't believe this.

They said they went to look for him, the father even went to Lusaka. They could not find him. Even now we don't know where Stanza is. I think that the police that were with him should come here and tell us where the bones are, even me so that I can know where my son is.

(We will wait again until she regains her composure).

I'm asking these policemen to show me where they buried him, where they took him to. They must give me my son, I will bury him, even if only the bones.

DR ALLY: The investigators unit of the Truth Commission over the last few days has been working quite closely with lawyers who have been involved in the case of your son and we are hoping that through this investigation, something will turn up, that some new information will come to the fore, but I want to give you every assurance that this issue is receiving attention from the investigative unit of the Truth Commission. I don't know if there are any matters that you want to bring to the Commission, or anybody else who would like to ask any questions?

MRS BOPAPE: The names of the police who arrested him when he went to the ...(indistinct) agents in Vorster Square, in their recording books they wrote the their force numbers including their names, they are the following

Three of then are Mostert, Engelbrecht and Syfert. Syfert is the one who is claiming that according to Ben Nkosi, he is claiming is the one who buried Stanza. And if Ben Nkosi does not speak the truth, he is prepared to kill Ben Kosi the way he killed Stanza. In that file it contains this information that the police had written in Afrikaans. Thank you.

DR ALLY: We are working on this, we've got our investigators on it and we are working closely with your lawyers, so we're hoping that we will be able to tell you something about this in the near future.

Thank you very for coming to speak about something which I know must be very difficult when someone disappears and you don't know what happened.

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