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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 443

Paragraph Numbers 44

Volume 1

Chapter 12

Subsection 25

44 The Johannesburg regional office hosted the following hearings:

a Johannesburg (29 April - 3 May 1996). The first hearing organised by the Johannesburg office took place at the Central Methodist Church. The whole office worked on preparing different aspects of the event. Not much statement taking had taken place prior to the hearing, and commissioners tried to identify the better known cases. The hearings acted as a public showcase of the kind of work in which the Commission would be involved. Some of the cases dealt with were bombings by liberation movements, the assassinations of David Webster and Bheki Mhlangeni and the death in detention of Ahmed Timol.

b Mmabatho (8-11 July 1996). Although this hearing took place in the former capital of Bophuthatswana, a large number of the witnesses came from Huhudi in Vryburg. Many of the cases emanated from conflict in the 1980s involving the local youth congress. Several incidents of torture by the South African Police (SAP) at ‘die Lang Boom’ were reported.

c Pietersburg (17-19 July 1996). This was the first hearing in the Northern Province. There were reports from Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) members who had been detained and tortured by members of the South African and Lebowa police. Violations stemming from politically-related tribal conflicts in the KaMatlala area were reported by several witnesses. The Commission also heard of the death of activist Peter Nchabaleng and the disappearance of Stanza Bopape.

d Soweto (22-26 July 1996). The first two days of this hearing focused on the events of the 1976 student uprising. Many activists and observers of that time made submissions about the activities and repression of the uprising. The rest of the hearing heard about a wide range of violations, including allegations of murder against Ms Madikizela-Mandela by the Sono and Tshabalala families.

e Sebokeng (5-8 August 1996). Testimony at this hearing ranged from the Sharpville massacre of 1960 to the ‘night vigil massacre’ of the 1990s. The Commission heard about the murders of community councillors in the 1980s and the killing of ‘the Vaal Monster’, Victor Kheswa, by the community. Residents from both sides told the

Commission about the conflict between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC).

f Pretoria (12-15 August 1996). The Pretoria hearing in the University of South Africa auditorium heard contradictory accounts of the murder of nine Mamelodi youths in KwaNdebele in the late 1980s. Victims of the Church Street bombing, the ‘Silverton siege’ and the ‘Mamelodi massacre’ told the Commission their stories.

g Nelspruit (2-5 September 1996). The Mpumalanga provincial government provided substantial logistic support for this event by providing an office for the committee, which continued to function for as long as the Commission was active in the province. Besides human rights violations including killing, torture and harassment by the security forces, the Commission heard testimony about the activities of the vigilante Kabasa gang, which wreaked havoc in the townships around Nelspruit in the 1980s.

h Klerksdorp (23-26 September 1996). In this North West Province town, the Human Rights Violations Committee was told of violations carried out by white right wing extremists, often in relation to land issues. A bus and consumer boycott in several small towns in the area resulted in repression and harassment by the security forces.

i Venda (3-4 October 1996). Allegations of torture against the SAP and former Venda security forces were frequently made to the Commission during this hearing. Victims said that their torturers sometimes accused them of harbouring activists before they went into exile. Violations flowing from politically-related chieftaincy conflicts were common in this predominantly rural area.

j Alexandra (28-30 October 1996). This township was the site of resistance and repression for many decades. Witnesses told the Commission of violations including killings, torture and shootings at protest marches. Deponents also related events concerning political violence between the ANC and the IFP that erupted in the early 1990s.

k Krugersdorp (11-14 November 1996). The Krugersdorp hearing covered the whole of the West Rand. The Commission heard the story of a youth killed by booby-trapped hand grenades allegedly planted by notorious hit squad member, Joe Mamasela. Residents of Bekkersdal related their community’s experience of the conflict between the local youth congress and the vigilante Zim-Zim gang. Relatives of victims of the Swanieville massacre told the Commission how IFP-aligned hostel residents attacked their informal settlement one night.

Tembisa (26-28 November 1996). Commissioners heard stories of state repression in the 1980s in this township and in the neighbouring Ivory Park informal settlement. In the 1990s, the IFP-aligned Toaster gang committed many violations in the context of violence between the ANC and the IFP.

m Moutse (2-5 December 1996). For the first time, victims, perpetrators and analysts appeared at the same hearing to tell their different versions of the same conflict. The hearing focused on the strife generated by the incorporation of Moutse into the KwaNdebele homeland. In particular, violations allegedly committed by the Mbokodo vigilante group were discussed. Testimony was given on the murder of KwaNdebele government minister Piet Ntuli.

n East Rand (4-7 February 1997). This week-long hearing took place in Duduza, Benoni and Vosloorus. The East Rand experienced more intensive violence between the ANC and the IFP in the early 1990s than any other part of the country. For this reason, the Commission went out of its way to collect statements from IFP-aligned victims. Testimony relating to this conflict covered incidents such as attacks on hostels, train violence, activities of the Khumalo gang and battles between ANC-aligned ‘self-defence units’ and IFP-aligned ‘self-protection units’. The Commission also heard about the Duduza hand grenade incident in which several youths were killed by a booby-trapped hand grenade allegedly given to them by Vlakplaas operative Joe Mamasela. The first victim of the notorious necklacing method, Maki Skosana, was killed in response to the hand grenade event. A white mother told the Commission how the South African Defence Force continued to feed her disinformation about the death of her son in Angola.

o Messina, Louis Trichardt and Tzaneen (8-10 April 1997). Situated in the far north of the country, many farmers in these districts had been the victims of landmines laid by the liberation movements. However, although the Commission was in possession of statements by some of these victims, and despite extraordinary efforts to persuade them otherwise, only three victims (Johannes van Eck, Lindiwe Mdluli and Johannes Roos) were willing to testify in public. The Commission heard about the torture and harassment of activists and how the security forces had fired on a protest march, killing at least one person.

p Zeerust, Rustenburg, Mabopane (6-8 May 1997). This three-day hearing in different towns in the North West Province focused on the violations committed by the erstwhile Bophuthatswana government.

q Piet Retief, Ermelo, Balfour (21-23 May 1997). In this part of southern Mpumalanga, the Commission heard about the Black Cat gang of IFP-aligned vigilantes. In Balfour, several victims spoke about their pain following the explosion of a bomb planted by the ANC. Violations associated with forced removals and land issues were also discussed at the hearing.

r Witbank, Leandra (3-5 June 1997). At this hearing, the Commission heard about members of a unit of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) who were killed while on their way to Swaziland and about life in the liberation movement’s underground. Members of the PAC made a submission on the Bethel treason trial. Relatives of former community councillors testified about attacks on them by activists aligned to the ANC.

s Children’s hearings (12-13 June 1997). Very few child victims testified at this hearing, which consisted mainly of submissions from organisations that had dealt with children and children’s issues for many years. The Commission heard about the physical and mental abuse of children when they were detained and about the efforts that were made to assist these victims.

t Women’s hearings (28-29 July 1997). Women suffer different forms of human rights violations, and these were the focus of this two-day hearing. Deponents told of rape and other forms of sexual harassment. They also related the difficulties of being the family breadwinner when state repression had resulted in the deaths of husbands and sons.

u National hearings. The regional office provided logistic support for several national hearings that were held in Johannesburg. These focused on prisons (21-22 July 1997), the media (15-17 September 1997), the legal system (27-29 October 1997), business (11-13 November 1997), and the State Security Council (14-15 October 1997).

v Mandela United Football Club hearing (24 –28 November, 1 – 4 December 1997). The hearing focused on allegations of gross human rights violations by members of the Mandela United Football Club, including the death of Stompie Seipei.

 
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