TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
SUBMISSIONS - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DATE: 9TH JUNE 1997
NAME: MRS NOBANTU IDA TSHANGANA /
MISS NOZIPHO EUNICE XOFA /
MR ZINGISILE KIDWELL MHLANGA
HELD AT: EAST LONDON
CASE: EC188/96 ELN - EC210/96 ELN - EC396/96 ELN
REV FINCA: We request June Crichton to light our candle to give us light in darkness. Can you please stand. We have mentioned those who passed away in the massacre. If we could have a moment of silence in respect of those who passed away in Lesotho, Tanzania, some in Angola and Botswana. Tembesile Duku, Masibele Maxwell Donisi, Thomson Walter Golite Sipobam, Cisa Faku and Bongani Nkenke. May they rest in peace Lord and give them ever-lighting light. Amen. We welcome you in our second last hearing in the Eastern Cape. Our first hearing was in East London however, even though that hearing was in East London, it covered the entire Eastern Cape Province. In that hearing we had people from Cradock, people from Port Elizabeth, the Messeshaseís and the others, people from Transkei like Mr Kati. Even though it was in East London, it covered the entire Eastern Cape. We are here in East London to-day to mainly cover East London incidents. We thank those who came forward with statements. We welcome our witnesses to-day in connection with the massacre at the station where weíve just been this morning. I think that the people that are going to give evidence in the four days will mainly be from East London however, on Thursday we will have a special hearing that will focus on the oppression of Womenís Rights, especially those who are in detention. They will be divulging incidents that they went through whilst in detention, to the Commission. The panel will consist of women. We as male Commissioners will excuse ourselves. This will be on Thursday. If we could start please. Miss Maya will lead us with the order that weíll follow to-day.
MISS MAYA: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I am going to the read the names of witnesses we requested to appear here to-day to give evidence in this Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is the order.
In this list we have people from East London and Mdantsane. Nine are connected to the bus boycott and six were oppressed or assaulted outside the Republic of South Africa. I am going to read the witnesses names, the place that the person is from and the year that the incident took place.
Nomhase Nkenke will be speaking about Bongani Nkenke who was murdered in East London in 1992.
The following are related to the Mdantsane bus boycott therefore Iím not going to read the year because the incident happened in 1983.
Landile Jongile will be speaking about himself. He was tortured. Nobantu Tshangana will be speaking about Cifi Tshangana - attempted murder.
Nozipho Xofa will be speaking about herself - attempted murder. Zingisile Mhlanga will be speaking about himself - attempted murder. Francis Njoli will be speaking about himself - attempted murder.
Maki Michael Mose will be speaking about Lyuanda Eric Mose who disappeared at that time.
Lindiswa Ngwenya will be speaking about herself - attempted murder. Nomazizi Gangala will be speaking about Diliza Gangala who was killed. Temba Faku will be speaking about Sisal Faku who was murdered. That is all concerning the Mdantsane bus boycott.
The following were tortured outside the Republic of South Africa: Michael Ndaliso will be speaking about Julia Ndaliso who was murdered. Excuse me, this is also in connection with the bus boycott.
Thembakazi Tuku will be speaking about Thembisile Tuku who was murdered in Botswana in 1986.
David Gobizembe will be speaking about himself. He was severely ill-treated in 1984.
Linda Sophia Tonisi will be speaking about Masibulele Maxwell Tonisi who was murdered in Angola.
Nokuzolangcai Koliti will be speaking about Tamsanqa Walter Koliti who was murdered in Tanzania.
Mbongeni Nicholas Bam will be speaking about Sipho Bam who was also murdered in Lesotho. That is all Mr Chairperson. Thank you.
REV FINCA: Thank you Miss Maya. We request that Mr Ngikelana, who is one of the leaders of the day, give us the background of what was happening in the community at that time so that we can put this hearing in perspective and a good context.
MR NGIKELANA: Thank you Mr Chairperson, I am grateful to have this opportunity to contribute towards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I just want to clarify something. The problem is I made my statement in English but weíre apparently supposed to be speaking Xhosa. It will seem as if Iím taking much longer because Iíll have to interpret. If I could speak in English it would go faster.
REV FINCA: Please yourself. You are allowed to use any language that you are comfortable with. If you would like to speak English, it is all right however, the majority of the audience will have to get an interpretation device.
MR NGIKELANA: I will do it in Xhosa, Mr Chairperson for the sake of the majority of the people. Mr Chairperson, what Iím going to try and put forward to you is that there was a bus boycott in 1983. Iíll be speaking of what led to the bus boycott as well as the results were. I will briefly be giving information regarding the contribution of work unions and their leaders. I was also a leader at the time. Mr Chairperson, in July 1983, when we realized that the bus company in East London was going to increase the bus fares by eleven percent, I canít remember the exact figures, people were not pleased. At the time the workers were in conflict with their employers for their rights. The Ciskeian Government of the day and the South African Government of the day contributed largely to this conflict.
At the time of the bus boycott, new Unions and new organizations had to be formed to address problems such as this bus boycott. The "Committee of Ten" came about during that time. It mostly consisted of workers because they were the ones who used the buses the most at the time. People then switched from the buses to the trains. The struggle for Peopleís Rights then moved from a bus situation to a train situation.
I would like to emphasize Mr Chairperson, that truly these leaders that were in the "Committee of Ten" were workers that were well known, even amongst Trade Unions. It is true that these leaders were also accepted by the community at large. This is why, when they supported and suggested this bus boycott, they were accepted by the community in Mdantsane. In the early Ď80ís, the organizations that were fighting for peopleís rights, speaking boldly about the oppression of people, were the Trade Unions. Political organizations were banned at the time therefore it was the Trade Unions which could stand up for the people.
Iím going to tell you briefly about these Unions. SAWU had a twenty thousand signed membership. It had a lot of followers. In this area SAWU was working with twenty nine factories. There was a Union with a paid-up membership of about four thousand. This is about eight food factories and then the General Workers Union had about five hundred and fifty members in three companies. National Automobile Allied Workers Union had one thousand, seven hundred and sixty six members in one factory. Iím just trying to illustrate that this is how workers could boycott the increase of bus fares. At the time, Unions clearly stated that it was not their custom to support a focus on boycotts but if the workers that belonged to the Unions had a problem with this eleven percent increase of bus fares, it was their obligation to support and help even though at around August 1983, the UDF also had a lot of support from the Unions. This is how SAWU joined the UDF.
The UDF as an organization, also had a lot of compassion for the people who used the buses. However, as Trade Unions, we endeavoured to help workers with their problems, especially with the authorities of the day. We received a document which we referred to as a "Twelve Page Document". It was clear that it was written by the Government of the day. This document was to advise workers how they should work with the Unions as well as how they should go about relating, especially to SAWU.
The Special Branch at the time, was always present at our boycotts. It was clear that the Special Branch had some kind of relationship with the employers even though the employers would deny this fact. This is what caused all the conflict when the bus fares were increased. Mr Chairperson, we should remember that two hundred and five people were arrested by the Ciskeian Government of the day. People from Dimbaza and Mdantsane police stations were released and were very angry because they had been severely ill-treated and tortured. People also felt that it was their right to get decent salaries. They were also angry that they could not join SAWU because they were told that if theyíre members of SAWU, they would lose their jobs and they would die of hunger. We then clarified to the workers that it was their prerogative to fight for their rights. This matter went to the ANC and the South African Communist Parties that were banned at the time. We also had to be strong as Unions and stand up for the people, as the bigger political organizations were banned. We had to ascertain and make sure that people were not oppressed.
I will proceed Mr Chairperson and I dwell on the leaders of the Unions. At the time, the General Secretary of SAWU was Sam Kekeni, the President was Tsozamele Xhewta and I was his assistant. Mr Chairperson, the Chairperson of SAWU was Eric Umdonga. We were was in and out of prison, being detained. It was not the Ciskeian police that were detaining us then, it was the South African Government of the day. The Special Branch would also arrest us and interrogate us for hours on end. However, there was nothing they could do because they would reach dead ends. They would say that it is not for the Trade Unions to educate people on "the struggle". We made it clear to them that it the information we were giving to workers co-relates with that of the bigger organizations, there is nothing we could do. That caused a lot of unrest. They would be in and out of our offices, taking documents. Excuse me, they would not take documents, they would just disrupt our work. This kind of treatment did not only apply to the leaders such as myself. Sometimes a worker in a factory would be taken to Cambridge and interrogated. The workers would be interrogated mostly about SAWU. What Iím trying to illustrate Mr Chairperson, is that a SAWU lived under victimization and harassment.
In 1980, we started as a Trade Union until the bus boycott. As I mentioned earlier, the Ciskeian Government was not happy about us all and would not treat us well. In 1982, there was an issue within the Ciskeian Government. The Ciskeian Government was considering banning SAWU. The Ciskeian Government of the day perceived SAWU as an organization under the ANC. We clarified it and tried to convince them that we were a Trade Union totally independent of the ANC. The Ciskeian Government would say, we are not just an ANC front but also a communist front. We were committing communist activities within the country. However, we hid nothing. All our policies were out in the open and would be frankly discussed in meetings.
What the Ciskeian Government was complaining about most is, I donít exactly know how to put it in Xhosa. The policy of the Ciskeian Government was to control labour and not to attract investments. They wanted money to be invested, factories to be built but they saw Trade Unions as people who were interfering with their investments. We made it clear that we wanted the companies to invest their money so that people can get jobs but we wanted to respect peopleís rights and to pay workers according to their work as well as to improve their working conditions. The person in charge at that time made it clear that he would not tolerate Trade Unions in the Ciskei.
Mr Chairperson, I would like to continue and talk about the people who were detained by the Ciskeian Government in 1982. I will mention Tandane Wine, members of the General Workers Union, Twazamele Xhoita, Umguzi Sifingo, Jeff Mabela, Humphrey Maklekwane and myself. We were in and out of detention. Sometimes when we were coming from negotiations, the police would wait for us and ask us about the negotiations. I would also like to mention Mr Vani Ngodega in Queenstown and the Minister Sydney Mufamadi together with Mr Mdigwa, who came here under GAAU, General and Allied Workers Union. They came to negotiate and talk to other Unions and were also detained for a few days in 1983. I would like to continue Mr Chairperson, to mention Duluwas M ...(inaudible) who was also harassed. Mr Chairperson, let me go back to the boycott itself as Iíve given the picture.
In August the Ciskeians, as we used to call them, took five Trade Unionists in East London. Iíd like to add that people like myself were inside at the time. Mr Tandane Legoshi, Mjogolo Meltafa and Spingo were taken by the Ciskeian police. Mr Mntonga, Sheba Mambushi Makligwana were also arrested. Mr Chairperson, some of the people Iíve just mentioned were members of the "Committee of Ten". I donít remember clearly but Mr Mambushi and Mampunji were members of a "Committee of Ten" of ten. After that the Ciskei banned SAWU using the Ciskeian National Security Act. They warned people who stayed in Ciskei that if they continued being members of SAWU, they would be punished severely. SAWU was accused of started the bus boycott but if I remember correctly, Mr Chairperson, there was a meeting called by the workers and the community to discuss why the bus fares were increased under such conditions. The President of SAWU, Tsozamele Xhewta was not arrested, he ran away. He said that as a leader in this region, he would try to negotiate so that the bus boycott would stop because people were killed and some were injured. Those who were working for their children lost their jobs. He made it clear that if there are going to be negotiations regarding the bus boycott, all the leaders who were inside together with the "Committee of Ten", are to be released without any conditions. The members of the "Committee of Ten" would be the ones leading the negotiations. That was not accepted.
After that when things became very bad, the bus company wanted SAWU to lead the negotiations concerning the bus boycott. SAWU then said that itís members who started the bus boycott, the people who were the ones supposed to be negotiating the bus boycott, are in detention. Even at that time, nothing happened. The leaders of the "Committee of Ten" were not released. What we must emphasize Mr Chairperson, is that there was conflict all the time and we became enemies with the Government. There were also attempts from the leader of SAWU Tsozamele Xhewta to try and resolve this but his suggestions were not accepted and this caused conflict between the communities and workers of Mtanzane with the Ciskeian Government, the South African Government and the employers. During this situation the Unions were harassed in inappropriate way.
I would like say in English, that during that time the Unions were highly politicized in a very distorted way. Strikes were equated to Trade Unionism. It was a very painful thing because we were fighting for workersí rights. That is why, when I was describing all this, I mentioned that we were trying to negotiate with different factories but what the Government did was, it associated us with the strikes and the strikes were the workersí rights if they encountered a problem. The shop stewards and the organizers in the factory would be called by the managers and the managers would tell them to stop what they are doing. They would be told that they were members of the ANC and communist party. The workers became confused because of this. Fortunately they would be strong and unite because they knew what they wanted from SAWU and the General Workers Union.
Let us again go back to the issue of the boycott. The leaders of SAWU, myself and Ntozi stated clearly that we are no longer going to be the leaders of the boycott campaign because although this affected us, we wanted the workers to take a lead because they were the ones using the bus to Highway and to Westbank. We knew that if we could present this to the workers, the Government would oppress them more. This is when the "Committee of Ten" was formed and were not denying that they were our members. It was formed so that it could consist of the workers and it would give reports to the commuters. That was the way it happened but we cannot ignore the fact that the very same workers and the community at large were looking to SAWU as the leading organization in their struggle of liberation, fighting for the truth. for democracy, non-racialism and for peace.
I would like to say that these are the events which took place in this area at that time. People like myself were in detention. We went through a hungers strike lasting twenty eight days. I told the police that I came from Durban and when I arrived here I was arrested but I had nothing to do with the bus boycott. They said that I was arrested because I was a member of SAWU. I was trying to create a picture of something I was told about. The workers were trying to state that there was a bus increase but their wages were not increased and we as SAWU members were accused of leading this boycott. Iíve mentioned names of certain leaders who were in and out of detention, not at the time of the boycott but before that.
Again I would like to emphasize the aspect of the "Twelve Page Document" because it showed clearly that there were people who planned this but how could they try and stop the struggle of the workers. It became clear during the bus boycott because the workers were fighting for their rights and this was used as an excuse to try and arrest the Union leaders. Unfortunately, it was clear that the Unions recruited some members. They recruited members from Grahamstown and Queenstown and they never failed because people accepted them as the Unions for the workers. I already mentioned what happened to us as the leaders of the Unions and what happened before that. I think that these were things that led to the anger and the oppression of the people. They were treated like animals.
There are things that I would like to mention which happened afterwards. We were talking about reconciliation and as a South African, I would like to present this so that there can be reconciliation in this country. There was something happening. There were things about the civil claims of the people who were shot. Some were working in their homes and they got shot or they would get beaten. They would go the Court of Law, hire lawyers and their lawyers would get arrested when they were supposed to appear in court and their case would be dismissed. People were forced to pay huge amounts of money. I would like these things to be taken note of because this happened because of the bus issue.
There are also rumours that there were people who were buried in the gate at night. I would like to ask the Commission to try and persuade the people who were working at the time, to come forward to the Commission to tell us what happened at that time. If these people would come forward, there would be reconciliation in this country.
What I would like to say about reconciliation in conclusion, is that I would like to part of the people who are trying to bring about reconciliation. What was very painful to us, even to-day, is that some of the people pointed us out at the time, the people who were oppressing us would be promoted after their deeds. I would like the Government to look at the promotion policy, especially with regard to people such as these because we donít understand why they get promoted after what they did. This is our Democratic Government, our transparent Government. Iím saying that we should play with our Government but it is still very painful to us when it comes to that issued.
Again, some us, as well as myself would like to get our files from the Special Branch. There was a file of myself in the Special Branch Units. They said they were following me while I was in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. I would like to know why they were investigating me because I was working for the Trade Unions at the time. I would like to get that file. In all that happened, we must realize that people were sacrificing their lives and sacrificing their work trying to fight for the liberation. As I was reading through the newspapers, the perpetrators in the Border region or the Eastern Cape region are not coming forward. Those who were oppressing us and harassing us. I think that even though the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is coming to an end, we would like them to come forward because we know them. I would like to give you an example. There is not a single member of the Special Branch who hit and kicked me, who has come forward to say, Iíve done this to Cisa. I would like those who were hired by the Ciskeians, not only the Special Branch, to come forward to tell us the truth. Iím afraid that if they donít come forward, we will not forgive them.
The companies came here to invest money but because the Trade Unions were oppressed, the companies were told not to invest their money in the Border area as the Trade Unions were highly militant. We tried to negotiate this, telling them that we would like them to come and invest their money here, that here would be strikes but where the Trade Unions were involved, they would try to negotiate and resolve the issue. We would like the countries which gave permission to the companies to come to this country to invest money, to come forward and invest their money because there is poverty in this region. If that can happen, there would be reconciliation.
Again Mr Chairperson, I think the Public Works programme has a job to do for those people who lost their jobs because they were fighting for liberation. We are in poverty but we know that we sacrificed our jobs because we were trying to fight for liberation. In the Social Security, we know that the Government does not have enough money but we would like it to help as some of us were injured because of such incidents. These people were in the struggle and although they were injured, they continued to fight for the liberation.
There was an issue regarding the "black listing". I remember that elderly people from Robben Island could not get jobs and this also reflected on the workers. When a worker organized other workers in the company, trying to fight for their rights, they would be seen as an enemy. We want such "black lists" to be brought forward. We would like the names of those who were "black listed" to be mentioned because they were members of the Trade Unions and we want all the companies and business people to come forward publicly to clearly state that they will not use that "black list" again. If a company is found to be using that "black list", it would be punished because that "black list" consisted of those people who were sacrificing their lives so that we could be liberated in this country. We cannot leave these people alone, Mr Chairperson.
Let me conclude, Mr Chairperson, by saying, what I was trying to say was that the bus boycott of 1983 showed the efforts of the Government to destroy peopleís lives. Plans were made concerning peopleís lives so that they were not able to fight for their rights, they were oppressed. I would like to say this in English in order for it to be clear. The 1983 bus boycott did expose a conscious effort by the apartheid regime, by the oppressive regime to constantly disrupt peopleís lives and enhance their independence on the apartheid systems, undermine their resistance and undermine their struggle for freedom, peace and democracy. That is what the 1983 boycott exposed. It was not the first boycott in East London, it was not the first boycott in South Africa.
There is something I would like to say. The presence of the Special Branch and the co-operation of the employers with the Government was a very painful thing to us and we have evidence of this. Mr Chairperson, I havenít heard an employer coming forward to the Commission saying that at the they were co-operating with the Special Branch or that they were trying to disrupt and to stop the struggle of the Trade Unions. We would like them to come forward. We can see that they are legally represented by the people who represented the previous regime. I know that there are people who are going to give evidence here to-day but I hope that what Iíve just said has given you a clear picture of what was happening at the time. What Iíve just said will remind people who are here to-day so that they are able to come and testify here to-day and give you a clearer picture. Thank you.
REV FINCA: Thank you Mr Mgikelana. We have given you a lot of time and we wanted to stop you but we couldnít because you were giving us an overall context of what was happening at that time here. Above all, I think that itís the first time that weíve received a submission, a substantial submission from the perspective of the Trade Unions concerning what happened in this region. We thank you for coming here to give us this perspective. We know that there are many leaders who were leaders from 1990 up until this period who were very militant, the leaders who appeared from 1990 but youíve spoken about what happened in 1983 and even before that. That was a very dark period where leadership demanded a price and we know that you are one of those people in this region, those who sacrificed their lives at a time when it was expensive to do that to your life and to your family.
We thank you for the background you presented to us and we thank you for giving us a picture regarding the link between the big businesses and the Government as well as the past regime. You answered a question which was in my mind and that is, would there be a full reconciliation if those who were perpetrators at the time, came and clarified this matter to us so that we can accept what was happening and forgive them. You have made a very clear call at the big business to-day but if we are going to build on a solid foundation for the future, the past history needs to be exposed, acknowledged and forgiven.
Thank you for the advice you have given us regarding what should be done and we will forward your advice to the President of this country so that he can be the one to try or to answer what you have put forward. You spoke to us a leader and as an analyst as well as a patriot. We thank you. Unfortunately, we have given Mr Ngikelana a lot of time so we will have a short break of fifteen minutes and weíll come back here at a quarter to twelve. Thank you.
REV XUNDU: Mr Chairperson, may I swear them in? I will start with Nobantu Tshangana.
MRS NOBANTU TSHANGANA: (sworn states)
REV XUNDU: Thank you. Nozipho Xofa?
MRS NOZIPHO XOFA: (sworn states)
REV XUNDU: Zingisile Mhlanga?
MR ZINGISILE MHLANGA: (sworn states)
Thank you, Mr Chairperson. They have been properly sworn in.
REV FINCA: Mr Sandi?
MR SANDI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. We will start with Mrs Tshangana. Mrs Tshangana, without going into detail about the background of this incident because Mr Ngikelana has already done this, you are going to talk about your husband. What is his name?
MRS TSHANGANA: Cifi.
MR SANDI: Was he shot in Mdantsane?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes, he was shot on the fourth of August.
MR SANDI: Before we talk about his shooting, could you briefly tell us about your husband Cifi Tshangana? Was he working?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes, he worked at Botha Bus Company.
MR SANDI: Would he use a bus to commute?
MRS TSHANGANA: No, he would use a train because he came from Fort Jackson.
MR SANDI: Letís talk about the day of his shooting. What happened?
MRS TSHANGANA: He was going to work.
MR SANDI: Can I hand over to you, Mrs Tshangana to tell us about this incident, without interrupting you?
MRS TSHANGANA: He got up in the morning to go to work. We heard the sound of bullets. He went to work and as he was walking in our street, he came across police vans. The police accosted them, saying that they should not walk any further.
The police just shot at them and he lost his leg. Our neighbours called an ambulance but when it came it was chased away. He was put in a car where there were corpses and taken to hospital.
We did not see him at the time he was admitted to the hospital, we were only able to see him on the third day. He had a caste on his leg. They had tried to put the leg together but the leg started to rot and it had to be amputated. After having been shot, heíd been beaten whilst he was lying down. Some men came and beat him up and his forehead caved in. They left him for dead.
He was then released from hospital after staying in the hospital for about three months. I had a one year old child and I then had to go and look for a job because nobody was working. I got a job and as we were working we were arrested by the South African Government of the day. I paid money to an attorney, Clark, who was helping us but I could not afford to continue paying. People came to take our furniture in order to pay the attorney off.
MR SANDI: What workers are you talking about? Are you talking about SAWU?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes, I am.
MR SANDI: Could you please go over this again. You say that you were arrested. By whom? Were you arrested by the Government of the day because thatís what the documents stated?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
MR SANDI: Was this as a result of your present charges against the Government for having shot your husband?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
MR SANDI: Did you have a legal representative?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes, but Pringle ended up handling our case. Pringle then said we must pay what the Government is requiring us to pay and they would give us the money back.
MR SANDI: You say that something happened in 1992.
MRS TSHANGANA: He started suffering from diarrhoea. There was nothing wrong with him but he would just mess himself up.
MR SANDI: The men who beat him up after he had been shot, was it the police?
MRS TSHANGANA: It was not the police. It was the Lindikaia Group, security guards.
MR SANDI: Were these the people who would torture people and the Government would do nothing about it?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
MR SANDI: Were the soldiers and the police there?
MRS TSHANGANA: It is the soldiers that shot the people.
MR SANDI: Your legal representative, Mr Pringle, what did he say the results of the entire case were?
MRS TSHANGANA: He said that it was too late and the Ciskeian Government did not have enough financial resources to help us.
MR SANDI: Did you start paying off the Ciskeian Government as they demanded?
MRS TSHANGANA: I only paid twice. I paid fifteen rand twice. Maybe it was three times, then I stopped.
MR SANDI: You would pay fifteen rand a week?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes, I would pay fifteen rand a week.
MR SANDI: Where would you pay?
MRS TSHANGANA: At Clarkeís office.
MR SANDI: As Mr Ngikelana was giving us the political background at the time, he referred to peopleís salaries that were very low at the time. If you do not mind, I would like to know how much you were earning at the time of you paying the Ciskeian Government fifteen rand a week?
MRS TSHANGANA: I was earning fourteen rand a week.
MR SANDI: And you had to pay fifteen rand to the Ciskeian Government a week?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
MR SANDI: My co-panelists would like to know something. You say that you earned fourteen after you paid this fifteen rand?
MRS TSHANGANA: No, I was earning fourteen rand a week and I would have to pay fifteen rand at the attorneyís office.
MR SANDI: Would you pay this fortnightly?
MRS TSHANGANA: I earned weekly. They required me to pay weekly as well but I could only pay every two weeks.
MR SANDI: You did not earn enough to pay the fifteen rand weekly?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
MR SANDI: Is that all Maíam? Before I ask if you have any requests before the Truth Commission, you spoke of children who are at school. How many are there?
MRS TSHANGANA: Thereís three of them. Two have passed Matric and the one is at Border Tech. I cannot afford to send the other to a tertiary institution.
MR SANDI: Do you have a request in connection with these children.
MRS TSHANGANA: If I could b helped to educate these children because I suffer from high blood pressure, I had a stroke and I have a heart ailment.
MR SANDI: According to your statement Mrs Tshangana, you say this incident of people being shot as a result of the bus boycott, you request in your statement that we should investigate this matter again in order to find out who it was that not only shot him but beat him up as well.
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
MR SANDI: If you have any further requests Maíam, you can speak after the other witnesses have spoken.
MR SANDI: Miss Xofa? Miss Xofa, according to your statement the incident that you are here for is very similar to the previous witness. The difference is that you are going to talk about yourself. Could you please tell us what happened when you were shot?
MISS XOFA: I usually woke up at four oíclock in the morning and caught the first train. As we were going to the train that particular morning, the police said that we should go and board the bus instead. When were going back, I saw that there was a lot of people standing around looking towards us and there was a lot of noise. It was a bit dark because it was winter. We heard someone blowing a whistle, then the shooting started. I tried to go back and as I was walking back, my leg started to burn and I was sure it was bullet. There were men standing around and they helped me home. When I got home, my husband took me to hospital. I was ill-treated at the hospital. There was an Indian doctor who was treating me and there was a bullet that was on the surface and it was burning me. This man just pushed the bullet back into me.
The following day I had to go into theatre to be operated on. I thought I was going to die in theatre as I had been ill-treated the previous day. They could not remove the bullet so they left it in my body. Workers organized money for me to be transported to Cape Town for a further examination. Even in the Cape Town hospital I was told that the bullet could not be removed.
MR SANDI: Were you not treated after that?
MISS XOFA: I was discharged from the hospital and I didnít go for further treatment.
MR SANDI: You say you had a baby when this happened. How old was the baby?
MISS XOFA: I was still breast-feeding at the time?
MR SANDI: How many months?
MISS XOFA: My baby was three months old.
MR SANDI: Who was looking after your baby when you were going in and out of hospitals?
MISS XOFA: My mother was there to help.
MR SANDI: Did you go to any attorneys?
MISS XOFA: We were told by SAWU that there were doctors at the City Hall. We went and gave statements and then we went to Pringle Bax Partnership. They would call us in now and again and it was clear that the case was not proceeding or going anywhere. Then I got a letter from Clarke saying that I have to pay in some money. I realized that I could not pay this money off because I was not working and nor was my husband. After a few months I was arrested and detained for a week. I was then released on a bail of One Thousand, Three Hundred Rand which was paid by my younger sister.
MR SANDI: Why were you arrested?
MISS XOFA: I was arrested because I laid charges against the police.
MR SANDI: How were you released?
MISS XOFA: I was released on bail.
MR SANDI: You stayed in for five days?
MISS XOFA: Yes.
MR SANDI: So you were out on bail for One Thousand Three Hundred Rand?
MISS XOFA: Yes.
MR SANDI: And your sister paid for you?
MISS XOFA: Yes.
MR SANDI: Do you not think it an enigma that somebody was shot going to work in a train, gets shot and when this same person, who was the victim of the shooting opens a case with the legal representatives has to pay.
MISS XOFA: Yes, it is an enigma.
MR SANDI: Is that all the evidence that you have, Miss Xofa? Do you have any requests in connection with this incident?
MISS XOFA: What I wish to for is that the perpetrators come forward because we were being shot because the bus fare was increased by five cents.
MR SANDI: Do you still undergo treatment?
MISS XOFA: No. When my leg starts aching, I just take tablets.
MR SANDI: Thank you, Miss Xofa. If you have forgotten anything from your statement, maybe you can speak later.
MR SANDI: Mr Mhlanga? Mr Mhlanga, on this particular day you were also shot.
MR MHLANGA: Yes, Iím one of the victims who was shot on the third of August 1983.
MR SANDI: Please tell us, Mr Mhlanga, what happened to you at the time of this incident.
MR MHLANGA: As a person who was using a half past four train, I would be on the platform at about a quarter past four. On this particular day when I came from the N.U.11 I heard an unusual noise. When I was on my way on a tarred road near the N.U.9 facing AGT, I met people who were going to the train and I heard that there was a rumour that the police are trying to stop us. I didnít know these peopleís names but they were people who used to go the train at the same time as myself. There was no bridge near the station at the time and we would go to the other side by foot as we were going to board a train to East London. When I looked towards the station, there were cars in front of us and we could hear that there were gun shots being fired everywhere. There was a fence near the station and because we told ourselves, even though there were gunshots, we better go and get shot near the station. There were no lights at that time, it was dark. I thought that there was someone next to me but when we got to the station and waited for the train, someone told me that Iím wet and when he tried to look at the place, I saw blood. I think we were six men at the time. We then felt that there was something inside our bodies. I was shot in my left arm but fortunately, the bullet penetrated between the muscle and the bone. This did not affect my bones but it affected my muscles. The other one was shot in the thigh and the other one in the leg.
We were then taken and an ambulance was called to take us to the hospital. The railway soldiers came and they were the ones who called the ambulance from East London. As we were on the other side of the railway station, it was said, were in the land of the Republic of South Africa and those who were on the other side were said to be the Ciskeian people. The soldiers from East London called an ambulance to take us to East London. We were taken to the Frere hospital. I stayed there for a week before being discharged.
I then went back to work. The workers advised me to go to a lawyer in Highway, a Mr Sewisa to give a statement.
MR SANDI: Excuse me, Mr Mhlanga, before going to the case of the lawyer, for how long did you stay in hospital?
MR MHLANGA: When I was discharged after that one week I was told to go back for an operation. I then went back for an operation and I stayed in Frere hospital for four weeks.
MR SANDI: You went to meet with the lawyer in Highway?
MR MHLANGA: Yes. I went to Highway to meet with an attorney and gave my statement and then left. After I was discharged from Frere hospital, I heard that we had to go and meet with the lawyers again. When I got there, they told me that my lawyer was no longer there and they had no documents on my case. I tried to investigate because they said that he was working with Mr Mark Rabe at that time but my name did not appear on the list of Mr Mark Rabe. That was the end of my case with an attorney. There was nothing more as didnít know who to consult because there were no documents or statements and my lawyer was not there. I was told that documents were then given to Mr Mark Rabe but my name was not there.
MR SANDI: Mr Mhlanga, let me ask you again about your arm. You said that your arm got injured and as a result of that you cannot do certain things with your arm. Can you please elaborate on that? What were the thing you used to do with your arm which you cannot do now because of the injury?
MR MHLANGA: As a person who was working at a certain workshop, we had to lift heavy equipment but to-day I cannot lift any heavy equipment because of the injury. I had to get help from someone else. I used to love my job but because of this I could not do the same things.
MR SANDI: As a father at home, you cannot do certain jobs. Can you cannot lift heavy furniture.
MR MHLANGA: I can lift a chair with my two arms but if I try to lift the chair with my injured arm, I feel pain.
MR SANDI: You made some requests Mr Mahlanga, at the time you gave your statement. Do you still remember your requests?
MR MHLANGA: I donít whether I can remember them clearly but I would like to say that there were people who helped those who were shot but I never got any help. I donít know whether they did not see me as an injured person. I heard that there were people who were helped but I was not one of those people.
MR SANDI: Would you like to be compensated?
MR MHLANGA: Yes, if something like that can be done, I would like it to be done because it happened to those who were shot at that time. Iím not saying that if it is not possible I would complain. As a person Iím not expecting compensation but if something can be done, I would appreciate it.
MR SANDI: Thank you Mr Mhlanga. I will now hand over to the Chairperson. Thank you Mr Chairperson.
REV FINCA: June Crichton?
MS CRICHTON: Mr Mhlanga, you heard Ciso Ngikelana speaking earlier about businesses and my question to you is very specific. Itís about the work that you were doing and where you were working. You mentioned a workshop. What kind of workshop was that?
MR MHLANGA: I was working for Johnson and Johnson and it was my second year with them. There was a coal boiler and we working in this section of coals. We would take a trolley full of coal and throw it in a certain place. This is when I found out that I had difficulty, although this might happen after an hour, as a person working eight hours a day I would feel pain when I was trying to lift these coals.
MS CRICHTON: Mr Mhlanga I would like to ask you as well, what happened as far as your injury was concerned? How did the firm handle that? What was their response?
MR MHLANGA: I donít have a complaint concerning the company which I was working for. The sister that was there at the time said that my sick leave days are finished. There was one lady who was a social worker, I donít know whether it was because she was Black but she tried to help me to get paid although my sick leave days were finished because I was still staying in the hospital. I got my money, my employers paid me while I was staying at home.
MS CRICHTON: Did you resign or did they ask you to leave?
MR MHLANGA: I did not resign but in 1984 there were certain people who were chosen, those who worked for the company for less than five years. I was one of those people.
MS CRICHTON: Thank you, Mr Mhlanga.
MR MHLANGA: Thank you.
MS CRICHTON: Could I speak to Miss Xofa now please. Miss Xofa can you hear me?
MISS XOFA: Yes.
MS CRICHTON: I want to ask you the same question that I asked Mr Mhlanga. Did you hear it in English or not? The question was, what was the name of the firm or where were you working when this incident happened to you?
MISS XOFA: I worked for Johnson and Johnson. We worked together.
MS CRICHTON: How was the matter dealt with, with yourself?
MISS XOFA: We lost our jobs.
MS CRICHTON: Was it after the same period of time? The same as Mr Mhlanga, after a few years?
MISS XOFA: We lost our jobs together in 1984.
MS CRICHTON: How long had you worked there?
MISS XOFA: Four years.
MS CRICHTON: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
REV FINCA: Mrs Eunice Xofa, you talked about an amount of One Thousand, Three Hundred that you had to pay for bail for having laid charges against the Government. What was this money all about?
MISS XOFA: They said that weíd laid charges against the Government. We got a document from Mr Clarke, an attorney, to inform us about this.
REV FINCA: So heís the one who can inform us better on this money issue?
MISS XOFA: Yes.
REV FINCA: Did your legal representatives do anything about this?
MISS XOFA: No. They said they did not know what it was all about.
REV FINCA: Did they stand against this as legal representatives?
MISS XOFA: No, because I was arrested at the end of it all.
REV FINCA: Even with you, Mrs Tshangana, itís the same story. You would pay your money at Mr Clarkeís office?
MRS TSHANGANA: Yes.
REV FINCA: Weíd have to question him about this matter. Do you have receipts concerning this money?
MRS TSHANGANA: I only received one.
REV FINCA: And Miss Xofa?
MISS XOFA: Mr Fuseli has my receipts. He was going to a meeting in Johannesburg. I went to him to ask for them and he said he does not have them anymore but I do have a copy of a letter that Iíd taken to Mr Clarkeís office.
REV FINCA: Could you furnish us with a copy of this letter.
MISS XOFA: Yes, it is with the Truth and Reconciliation Offices in town.
REV FINCA: I thank the three of you. You may step down.