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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 549
Paragraph Numbers 87 to 95
Establishment of homelands
87 The Commission heard of human rights violations that occurred in the rural and homeland areas in this period. Most violations stemmed from conflict between the government, which attempted to install chiefs amenable to its policies, and homeland residents, including popular chiefs themselves, who opposed this process.
88 A number of people were detained and allegedly tortured under the Terrorism Act. Three of these detainees died in detention. They were Mr Nicodemus Kgoathe, Mr Solomon Modipane and Mr Jacob Monnakgotla. Each had been detained because of his involvement in local disputes about chiefly powers. Again, the name of Major ‘Rooi Rus’ Swanepoel was mentioned, this time in connection with the arrest of ten Bakubung tribe members, one of whom was Jacob Monnakgotla.
89 Mr Nicomedus Kgoathe and Mr Solomon Modipane were arrested in November 1968 with sixteen others while protesting against the appointment of a new headman. Attempts had been made to burn the offices of headman Herman More at the tribal offices in Hebron. Some of the detainees were held for up to eight months before being charged.12
90 Mr Nicomedus Kgoathe [JB00113/03NWRUS] was taken from the Silverton police cells to the HF Verwoerd hospital on 21 January 1969 and died in February, allegedly because of pneumonia. Kgoathe had been moved to hospital after admitting to the district surgeon, Dr PJE Joubert, that he had been assaulted.
91 Kgoathe’s son, Mr Ben Kgoathe, described the condition in which he found his father when the family was finally informed of his whereabouts two months after his detention:
When we arrived there, we found my father. He was lying on the floor, flat on the floor. He just raised his head and he recognised me and we greeted each other. We spoke about family matters. When I asked what was the problem, my father Nicodemus said, he told me he slipped while he was bathing at Compol building at Pretoria.
92 At the inquest, the district surgeon, Dr PJE Joubert, testified that he had examined Kgoathe two weeks before his death and had arranged for him to be admitted to hospital after finding that he moved with extreme difficulty. Dr Joubert stated: “It is my opinion that he was suffering from the after-effects of a concussion and needed to be treated by a specialist.” He went on to testify that Kgoathe had told him that he had fallen in the shower room but, after the surgeon refused to accept this explanation, Kgoathe admitted that he had been assaulted. “It is my opinion that Kgoathe's injuries were the result of an assault,” the surgeon told the court. He said that linear marks on the shoulders of the deceased could have been caused by a sjambok (whip) and the three u-shaped wounds behind the right thigh by the buckle of a belt.
93 A sergeant at the Silverton police station also testified that Kgoathe had complained of body pains and said that he had been assaulted by the security police during interrogation, but said he refused to lay a charge. Police witnesses, including Warrant Officer F Smith, Warrant Officer J Venter and Detective Sergeant A de Meyer of the security police who interrogated Kgoathe on the 16 and 17 January, insisted that he had slipped and fallen during a shower on that day. The magistrate, Mr CG Jordan, found that, in the light of the evidence, he was not in a position to conclude that any person was to blame for Kgoathe’s death.13
94 Mr Solomon Modipane was arrested on 25 February 1969 and died three days later in the HF Verwoerd hospital. The head of the CID was reported in the press as saying that Modipane had received “certain injuries” when he slipped on a piece of soap, but that this was not necessarily the cause of death. In May, a magistrate endorsed the post mortem report that the death was owing to natural causes, and found that no inquest was necessary.
95 On 10 September 1969, Mr Jacob Monnakgotla was charged under the Terrorism Act and died in police custody the night before he was to appear in court, allegedly as a result of “natural causes”. Before Monnakgotla died, evidence was heard in court that some of his eleven co-accused had been tortured.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR NICODEMUS KGOATHE DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY ON 4 FEBRUARY 1969 AFTER HAVING BEEN ASSAULTED BY MEMBERS OF THE SAP SECURITY BRANCH NAMELY, WARRANT OFFICER FA SMITH, WARRANT OFFICER JM VENTER AND DETECTIVE SERGEANT A DE MEYER.
THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT THE FAILURE OF THE MAGISTRATE TO FIND THE POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TORTURE AND SUBSEQUENT DEATH OF NICODEMUS KGAOTHE CREATED A CLIMATE AND CULTURE OF IMPUNITY THAT DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTED TO THE COMMISSION OF FURTHER GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY THE SAP.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT SOLOMON MODIPANE WAS ARRESTED ON 25 FEBRUARY 1969 AND DIED THREE DAYS LATER IN HOSPITAL. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT HIS TREATMENT WHILST IN CUSTODY OF THE POLICE RESULTED IN INJURIES WHICH CAUSED HIS DEATH. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE SAP RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE MINISTER OF POLICE AND THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT JACOB MONNAKGOTLA, A MEMBER OF THE BAKUBUNG TRIBE, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY THE NIGHT BEFORE HE WAS TO APPEAR IN COURT. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, IN ALL PROBABILITY, JACOB MONNAKGOTLA WAS TORTURED AND SEVERELY ILL TREATED WHICH RESULTED IN HIS DEATH. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE POLICE AND THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE FORMER STATE’S HOMELANDS POLICY OF DEVELOPING ETHNICALLY-DIVIDED RESERVES SERVED THE INTERESTS OF PROTECTING AND PRESERVING THE RIGHTS OF THE WHITE MINORITY. THE COMMISSION FINDS FURTHER THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS POLICY OF ETHNIC FRAGMENTATION AND FORCED REMOVALS LED DIRECTLY TO THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. FURTHERMORE, THE FORMER STATE’S POLICY OF IMPOSING BANTU AUTHORITIES AND CHIEFS WAS A CENTRAL PART OF THE GOVERNMENT’S HOMELANDS POLICY. PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY, THE CHIEFS EFFECTIVELY BECAME AN EXTENSION OF THE FORMER STATE’S MECHANISM OF CONTROL IN THE HOMELANDS.11 See Volume Two for more details on Tiro’s killing. 12 SAIRR Survey, 1968 and 1969. 13 Kairos and SAIRR.