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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 375
Paragraph Numbers 166 to 168
Public order policing
166 The Commission heard that demonstrating students continued to clash with the police in the main Orange Free State centres during this period. Student and youth organisations were at the forefront of public protest activity. Issues ranged from those that affected them directly, such as school fees and political polarisation in schools, to the broader social concerns of local communities, particularly rent increases and vigilantism.
The shooting and ill treatment of Ishmael Ramtsieng
Members of the KwaKwatsi Youth League reported that police opened fire on them when they were on their way to the court in Koppies on 30 March 1990. Mr Ishmael Molefi Ramtsieng was one of those shot. He told the Commission that he was taken to a doctor who referred him to a hospital for surgery. When he arrived at the Kroonstad hospital, he found police members waiting for him and was beaten and subjected to humiliating treatment by the police while in hospital. He absconded from the hospital after five days [KZN/JRL/015/FS].
167 Several accounts were received of a police shooting incident at Viljoenskroon on 19 April 1990.
Police shooting at Viljoenskroom
Students gathered for a march that started at the Thabang High School and headed for the Mhlabateng Primary School in the township. Mr Moorosi Samuel Tsotsotso told the Commission that students had gathered peacefully and were ordered to disperse within five minutes. Before the time was up, a constable fired a shot into the air, causing the marchers to panic. The police then opened fire on the crowd, killing five youths and injuring many others. Tsotsotso sustained serious gunshot injuries in the incident [KZN/MAM/007/FS]. The Commission received two reports of deaths sustained in this incident and two other reports of gunshot injuries.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT UNKNOWN MEMBERS OF THE SAP, BY THE UNJUSTIFIED USE OF DEADLY FORCE, CAUSED THE DEATHS OF FIVE YOUTHS AND THE INJURY OF AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OF STUDENTS IN A SHOOTING INCIDENT AT VILJOENSKROON ON 19 APRIL 1990. SUCH ACTS AMOUNT TO GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE SAP IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEM.
168 Several statements were made to the Commission by victims who were unwittingly caught up in township disturbances and school boycotts. The lives of such individuals were irreversibly altered by injuries sustained during the conflict as a result of police action. Perhaps the most poignant stories of innocent people caught in the crossfire are those of children.
The shooting of Ben Enkela, aged five
Ben Kadafie Enkela was five years old when he was shot and injured by police in April 1990 while playing in the yard at his home at Ditlake, Koffiefontein. The police were shooting at youth activists [KZN/JWR/078/FS].
The shooting of Vincent Thipe, aged ten
Vincent Thipe was ten in 1990 when he was shot by police in 1990 outside his home in Ditlake township, Koffiefontein, at the time of school protests. He was eating outside the house when he saw police hippos [armoured personnel carriers] come past. Police opened fire in his direction, injuring him [KZN/JRW/081/FS].
The shooting of Sinah Mosele, aged thirteen
Ms Sinah Mosele Matsie was thirteen when police shot her in the knee in her Senekal home on 11 February 1990. Her grandmother, Ms Adelade Matsie, and her grandfather were shot in the same incident and were wounded in the thigh and in the hip respectively. The shootings occurred when students engaged in protest action ran into the Matsie house to hide from the police who were pursuing them [KZN/LIT/001/FS].
IN REVIEWING EVIDENCE OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS PERPETRATED BY THE STATE AND ALLIED GROUPS IN THE ORANGE FREE STATE DURING THIS PERIOD (1990 – MAY 1994), THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP MADE WIDESPREAD AND ROUTINE USE OF ASSAULT, TORTURE AND EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE AS PART OF A SYSTEMATIC PATTERN OF ABUSE DIRECTED AGAINST OPPONENTS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT. IT FINDS THAT MEMBERS OF THE SAP WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR SEVERAL DEATHS OF DETAINEES WHILST IN CUSTODY. IT FINDS FURTHER THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE SAP WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR WIDESPREAD UNJUSTIFIED USE OF DEADLY FORCE, RESULTING IN INJURY AND DEATH. THESE ARE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH THE SAP IS HELD RESPONSIBLE.