TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
SUBMISSIONS - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DATE: 04.02.1997 NAME: NHLANHLA JOHN BUTHELEZI
CASE: JB00266/01ERKWA - DUDUZA
CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, is Ndumo.
DR ALLY: Sipho.
CHAIRPERSON: Is he here? Okay, can we have Ndumo Sipho coming forward please.
MRS SEROKE: Sipho, Sokhela, Masesi Mqoma and Ntisingila Zondo, Ntisingila Zondo. If they are around, please come and occupy the front seats so Zodo can, Zodo and Jafta can see you. Also there is a wallet with car keys in it that is missing. If there anyone who has seen it, please bring it forward.
CHAIRPERSON: Buthelezi, Mr Buthelezi, could you take the podium please. Should we then ask Xaba Esau, Xaba Thabiso. Sorry, sorry, Mr Buthelezi, come, I am sorry. Please, please, let there be order, please. Mr Buthelezi, who is, who is accompanying you.
MR MASEBO: Lucky Masebo a close friend to Nhlanhla Buthelezi.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, as long as you will be of moral support to make each other feel at home. Okay, I am going to hand you over to Mr Hugh Lewin who will lead you with the oath and then the evidence. Thank you, Lewin.
MR LEWIN: Mr Buthelezi, can you hear me through your head phones?
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes.
MR LEWIN: Okay, if I could ask you please to stand and take the oath.
NHLANHLA JOHN BUTHELEZI: (Duly sworn in, states).
MR LEWIN: Mr Buthelezi, we would like you please to tell us your story. The story you have to tell covers not just 1985, but, as we understand it, 1986 and 1987 and if you are feeling comfortable and relaxed if you could please, in your own words, in your own time, tell us your story. Thank you.
MR BUTHELEZI: I will tell you about the torture and the harassment by the police and also how I was almost killed by the Comrades who are around here, some of them. They alleged that I was a police informer. I will first tell you about my detention. In 1985 I was detained and taken to Denosa Police Station and they charged me under Section 29 regarding Internal Security Act. There I was assaulted by Templeton Sibake who was my neighbour and a police at the time. I was assaulted so severely that my private parts were severely injured. I was handcuffed to the pole, the flagpole, at the police station. I was handcuffed, maybe I should demonstrate how I was handcuffed to the pole.
MR LEWIN: Please do.
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes, I was standing like this and they tied my, the rope around my legs to the pole and my hands were handcuffed to the pole and I was tortured until I started to bleed. I was bleeding profusely through my mouth and my nose and they continued to torture me. Templeton Sibake said to other white policemen I once was trained as a MK member out of the country. Okay.
MR LEWIN: Sorry, did he say that he had been trained or that you had been trained?
MR BUTHELEZI: They were referring to me because the police
were searching for me, I was forever in hiding. I had connections in Daveyton, and in many other townships so I could hide and I would occasionally come home. As the police were looking for me, police use to come to my place every time, quite often, driving private cars and Casspirs and vehicles. They will come at night and also during the day. Templeton Sibake left a message with my mum that they were going to bomb my house as they did with Tobela's.
The following day my family decided to pack everything and we, they left the house, vacated the house. That took place for two months, keep going away from the house and back sometime. At times they will come and take my younger sister with and they will take a briefcase full of money and they will ask her and say, if you, only you could tell us where your brother is, you will get this lot of money and she consistently said, I will never sell my brother. Until 1985 when I was detained, as I have explained before, about my torture and how I was assaulted. Police will come and look for me and not find me and yet I was at Denosa Police Station in hiding.
After that I was charged and ten accounts against me. I do not remember quite well the date, but there were ten charges. I had an advocate, I have forgotten my advocate's name, told me that I was under, arrested under Section 29. After the Attorney, Priscilla Jana, tried so much to locate me, because the reason why they were hiding me is because they had severely assaulted me, so they were trying by all means to keep me away from my family, because my family would discover how much I was severely wounded and they will take further steps. So that is the reason why I, they were hiding me. Mr Tim Boyes is the Advocate. He said I was under Section 29 and yet I knew that that meant Internal Security Act and I was not supposed to have visitors and food from home. So, he said I should plead guilty and I will only be sentenced for ten years and that will be it. I said, no, I object to that because I know Section 29 will mean this and that to me, no visitations and no food from home and I decided to change this advocate. At home they said, no, I should not change him, I should continue with him.
They took everything from my room. They recovered petrol bombs, 9mm from my room that I had taken it from a police home when we were, when the houses was, when the police house was set alight. They had those petrol bombs as exhibit on top of the Magistrate's table in the Court of Law. I said it explicitly clear that this was a frame because those petrol bombs were not in my room. I said they broke through the window and they had those petrol bombs with them. So, I refuted all of that and I insisted that they broke through the window and they put those things in there, they did not find the petrol bombs in my room. When the case went on, I won the case and I was detained under the State of Emergency.
I was detained for two weeks and immediately I was released, I was arrested at the gate and I was charged with treason, 38 accounts and we were quite a number. There were H Embata there, there was Joseph Tobela, the late, as well. We were tried at Modderbee and in the process I kept fighting and having altercation with the prison warders because our treatment was different from other inmates and the gangsters that belonged to the prison were so much used against us in a form that they will attack us. There were
Comrades also who arrived from various places and they use to assault other prisoners and I started fighting the prison warders and I was removed from where I was to the other room and they starved me for seven days.
I had no way to inform my family back home so that they will know what kind of treatment I was getting and take further steps. That went on and on and the diet also was not up to standard and I also suggested that they should ask our families to give us food, to bring us food. I even told the Captain and said, the food is conducive enough for the pigs, not for people because often times I will be in the front of the queue queuing for food, I will look and inspect the food and I will influence the rest who were behind me not to dish up, because the food was not conducive enough. They would interrogate me also and ask me why am I doing that and I will tell them and reason with them that this will, is not conducive food for people, but for pigs. As time went on I decided that they should give us better food probably. Maybe if they give us that, also on the other hand they will in prison, they will poison us. Maybe we should just be in one, in unity with all other inmates. Let me leave that one.
We were taken to Leeukop Prison now and we, when we got there I assaulted one of the police there and I threw porridge, hot porridge on him. After that they asked all those who were coming from Duduza, they called me and Alexander and others. They said we should come and they want to talk to us because we are a problem in the prison and we were taken to maximum Leeukop where we were trialed and we were taken to solitary confinement. We would only get opportunity to exercise only for five minutes every day. Before we were taken to Heidelberg High Court I told them and complained them about my health as I was not feeling well. I was taken to Modderfontein Hospital, a private clinic there. I was operated there.
MR LEWIN: Sorry, where was that, Mr Buthelezi?
MR BUTHELEZI: Pardon.
MR LEWIN: Where was that?
MR BUTHELEZI: It is Modderfontein Hospital, a private clinic. I could not see the directions because I was in the back of the bakkie, but I saw that that was Modderfontein Clinic and that is around Johannesburg, if I am not mistaken. As I was still suffering from the operation pains, I was chained and we were taken to Nigel Prison. Before we were taken to Nigel Prison we appeared in front of the Judge in the Supreme Court and we were transferred thereafter to Nigel Prison.
As we kept attending that case from the second February up to May, I was sentenced six months imprisonment. Some of the accused rendered confession statements to the Chief Magistrate and those were arrested for Ms Dilana's case. They told us at the High Court when the case went on that they were pressurised to give statements and also include us so that all that led us being even worse treated. What led to my being sentenced was that not, I had 38 accounts, not even one single one of those was the truth, but everything suited me because the State witnesses said everything that was in the statements of those accused. That is why I was sentenced to six months. Maybe I should leave it there and now go back to the threats I got from the location here in Duduza.
I will explicitly emphasise the fact that I will never reconcile until I mention those who wanted to attack me and kill me.
MR LEWIN: Could we have quiet please.
MR BUTHELEZI: I will only reconcile if I will be given opportunity to see those people who called me informers, because on the other side it was the police and the other side the Comrades and that state was so much difficult for me to go through. Often times, Alexandra Mtweti, was a councillor, he is the one who use to console me and be so supportive to me positively. Even in front of the Judge when others were testifying I felt like jumping and fighting with them because they were telling blatant lies. The only person I knew was the late Maki and Maki knew everything that I was up to. This is why I cried so badly after Maki was killed, because I was charged for life. The very same girl who, when other people will come to the, to our township I will be so much helpful. I was highly affected about Maki's death, I kept telling people even in the cells at Modderbee that it was a lie that Maki was an informer, because if she was, all other Comrades from other townships would tell the police that that was not true. I will continue and go on.
I want to tell you that I will only reconcile when only I could be given opportunity to see those people who were painting others black and yet they were the evil ones, the traitors and the informers. That is when I will reconcile.
CHAIRPERSON: Order please. Order, order please. We are asking you could you please be quiet. Go on.
MR LEWIN: Please go on.
MR BUTHELEZI: I will end here in as far as what happened to me during those years. Before I reconcile because I was
assaulted and harassed in prison and even outside prison the same thing took place. Some of the councillors here, not all of them though, some individuals, SANCO and ANC branch of Duduza were against the TRC. Even Kulumani support group will second me here. Mum Tobela will be my witness in as far as that is concerned. Even Evelina Puleng, Maki's sister, knows that very well. They tried to insist calling me an informer and tried to influence the community not to attend our meetings when we call up for support group and saying all sort of negative things about me. I know all of those people and I am prepared to make mention of their names right here. People are here to reconcile.
MR LEWIN: Could we please have quiet. Do you want to read the Riot Act and I will ...
MRS SEROKE: Sorry.
MR LEWIN: Read the Riot Act. Just ask them, explain that we have to have quiet.
CHAIRPERSON: Please we are expected to be quiet. If you want to hear the truth and let everybody here hear the truth, please, let us be quiet.
MR BUTHELEZI: What I will say is that I was so much assaulted, harassed and I was going through sufferings and people would point fingers at me saying I am a traitor, an informer, calling me a sell-out. Even to date, I still feel bad about that and they make me even want to kill those people. I underwent such a tragedy, you do not understand. On the other side were Comrades, on the other hand there were police. You can imagine what I was going through.
MR LEWIN: Could we ...
MR BUTHELEZI: I suffered a lot, I almost was affected mentally. Even today, I think somehow I am affected
mentally. So, I am not going to, I am not going to reconcile, I am not about to.
MRS SEROKE: Order please, order.
CHAIRPERSON: Buthelezi, could you, I think you have come to the end, could you please take questions. Thank you.
MR LEWIN: Thank you, Mr Buthelezi, and could we please give the witness a chance to have his say. Mr Buthelezi, could I put this, I am trying to get the context of your story. You began in, you said, in June 1985.
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes.
MR LEWIN: Could you tell us, at that stage, what organisations were you part of that you were approached then by the police? Were you, were you part of organised, political organisations?
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes, I was a member of an organisation and that was United Democratic Front at the time.
MR LEWIN: And you mentioned a neighbour who was also a member of the police. Would he have know that you were part of that organisation?
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes, he knew that I was a member, even though he was not too sure which group, but he knew my involvement in politics.
MR LEWIN: Was he also involved at the time that the police came through the window and planted, as you say, planted the hand, the bombs?
MR BUTHELEZI: I will say I would not know, because I was not around. I was told when I got home what happened when I was away.
MR LEWIN: Could you explain to us how you, how you survived at that time, because you seemed to have moved from 1985 through to about 1987. How were you, how were you living? MR BUTHELEZI: I survived, you know, I ignored all rumours. Some time I would tell myself that I will reach out for the gun and go around and shoot all those who were saying I was an informer.
MR LEWIN: Yes, I am not asking you about the rumours so much, but how did you, on a day to day to basis, did you have a job?
MR BUTHELEZI: I went to school in Shlamo Technical College, I did carpentry, because I thought that was my gift.
MR LEWIN: And then if I could come onto the time you went from Leeukop to Heidelberg and then you said you were taken to Modderfontein for an operation. Could you tell us what that operation was?
MR BUTHELEZI: When I was tortured at Denota Police Station I was kicked at my private parts and the person who kicked me was a police Templeton Sibaka, who is late now, and another one who use to torture a lot was Bushlong. I have forgotten his surname, also I have forgotten to make mention of his name when I was telling you the whole story.
MR LEWIN: But the operation, can you tell us what that was, was?
MR BUTHELEZI: As I have said, that I was kicked at my private parts, I fainted and I do not know what happened thereafter because I was now lying unconscious. After that I experienced continuous pain, pains until I insisted that I would like to go and consult with the doctor, to see the doctor and there came a time when they responded to my requests, after, also my advocate had talked to them.
MR LEWIN: Okay and now after you had been charged in February 1987, you were charged with treason, this is with Montwede and Tobena, you were charged with terrorism, arson, subversion, but then you were, you were sentenced to six months imprisonment. What was the charge there?
MR BUTHELEZI: They had 38 accounts, the first one was subversion.
MR LEWIN: You say you got six months, what was the six months for?
MR BUTHELEZI: I was sentenced to six months imprisonment because we led the State by (indistinct), we found out that they misled the, those who gave statements.
MR LEWIN: Okay and where did you actually serve that six months?
MR BUTHELEZI: At Modderbee prison.
MR LEWIN: At Modderbee.
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes.
MR LEWIN: Yes and then when you were released, what happened then?
MR BUTHELEZI: I was at home doing my job as I was a Carpenter up until I went to the Technical.
MR LEWIN: Now these, these accusations against you and your differences with the community, particularly in relation to Maki, was that while you were in Modderbee or when you were out?
MR BUTHELEZI: That took place before my detention and also after I was released, to date.
MR LEWIN: Okay and can you tell us calmly, or as calmly as possible, why you, why you had these feelings and what the rumours were about?
MR BUTHELEZI: I beg yours?
MR LEWIN: Can you tell us what was the substance of the rumours against you and what did you feel about them?
MR BUTHELEZI: Truly speaking, I would not say why there
were so many rumours that I was a police informer and I was feeling very bad because I even approached Lawyer Whitey, I even approached Lawyer Whitey, I even approached the person who was alleging that I was an informer and he refuted or the people concerned refuted all that and my neighbours knew very well that I was not an informer, that these were lies. Those people kept saying all those things and on the other hand I had those who were supportive wanting to investigate why and where were the rumours coming from. Now, they kept framing me as a police informer.
MR LEWIN: Mr Chairman, I have no further questions. Thank you.
MRS SEROKE: Nhlanhla, you have said in your statement you were tortured because you were manufacturing petrol bombs at home, you opened your own factory of petrol bombs. Is that true?
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes, that is true. Not alone.
CHAIRPERSON: Order please.
MR BUTHELEZI: With other Comrades.
MRS SEROKE: Were you alone or you had some company in this manufacturing?
MR BUTHELEZI: As I have said, we were many, except that the venue was my home.
CHAIRPERSON: Please, people, we are here to listen to each and every word that comes from the witness.
MRS SEROKE: What was your intention in manufacturing of these petrol bombs?
MR BUTHELEZI: I hated police, I hated Boers because quite many times you will find people being shot for no apparent reasons. Everyone was a victim, even the innocent one and we decided this was enough and this was too much, we should
start manufacturing petrol bombs now and we decided now that when we see any Hippo or any police vehicle, we will fire at it.
MRS SEROKE: Okay. Now, the people who turned around and said you are an informer and even gave evidence against you, were they taking part in this, in all of this?
MR BUTHELEZI: No, we had our own area. At times we will meet other people coming from different areas.
MRS SEROKE: What do you know about the murder of Mrs Dilana, the nurse?
MR BUTHELEZI: There is nothing that I know, absolutely with regard to the nurse. As I say, this is the TRC, I am here to tell you the truth. Now that I did not say anything about the nurse, that tells you that I was not involved in the killing of the nurse.
MRS SEROKE: Order please. You do not know a thing about the killing of Mrs Dilana, the nurse, but you know she was killed?
MR BUTHELEZI: Yes, I know she was killed.
MRS SEROKE: You say you launched an operation after they injured you at your private, on your private parts. How are you fairing now?
MR BUTHELEZI: No, I feel good, I feel good about myself. I, that is what I will say.
MRS SEROKE: Okay. Order please. Order. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Buthelezi, we are very grateful for you to come and share with us today. We quite appreciate the trauma you experienced both from the police in prison and, perhaps, even from the Comrades who later turned against you. I think you will have a broad mind and understanding that the times from which we came or from which we come were possible and it was possible to produce all that kind of mixed reaction towards each other. So you will appreciate that those who might have called you an informer, it was simply because of the pressures of the time. I think it if for you to look at them very broadly now and understand that they were liars and time will prove who you are. We thank you heartily and we say grow and be above all these things and give our regards to your family. Thank you.
MR BUTHELEZI: No, no, no. No, I have no peace whatsoever and I will not forgive. I do not even see why the TRC is existing and how it is helping us in a way. If the TRC was conducting its work the right way, it was supposed to let me make mention of the names because I know those names, but if you refuse me to mention those names how I am going to reconcile.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Buthelezi.
MR BUTHELEZI: I want to mention the names now. Why did they decide to call me a ...
CHAIRPERSON: Could you please ...
MR BUTHELEZI: police informer because ...
CHAIRPERSON: Could you please listen. We have never stopped you from mentioning those names. If you did not for the time that you were sitting there, do not blame it on this body. We are saying thank you, let us give others a chance.
MR LEWIN: Did he give us the names?
DR ALLY: Sorry, where is.
CHAIRPERSON: You can still, you can still give us the list of those people.
MRS SEROKE: Tom, the names are in the statement anyway. We will deal with that later.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for the, we have the list of those people. Thanks, please, I can literally say, can you please learn to give us the quiet that we need which, I think, you personally need, because you need to understand what is going on and you will appreciate that if you have got remarks to make, please make them out of here. We would love to give everybody a chance.