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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 560
Paragraph Numbers 130 to 141
130 Hector Peterson’s sister, Ms Antoinette Sithole, gave a statement to the Commission about the death of her brother:
Later I saw a group of school children coming towards us holding somebody, who happen to be my younger brother Hector Zolile Peterson. He was carried by Mbuyiswa Makhubo of Orlando West. We rushed to Phomolong clinic, which was nearby. On arrival at the clinic the doctor named Wilson said he was sorry there was nothing he can do because he was already deceased. The time was about 10h30.
131 Mbuyiswa Makhubo’s mother made a statement to the Commission stating that after the publication of the picture of her son carrying the fatally injured Hector Peterson, her family was severely harassed by the police until Mbuyiswa decided to go into exile. He has not been seen or heard from since he wrote a letter to his mother from Nigeria in 1978.
132 Mr Sam Nzima [JB00869/01GTSOW], the journalist who took the famous picture of Mbuyiswa carrying Hector Peterson, told the Commission that “all hell broke loose” when the police started shooting at the students:
During the shooting I saw a student fall down and another student picked him up and I rushed there to take a picture. I took six sequence shots of that picture of the student, whom we later discovered that was Hector Peterson, and another student by the name of Mbuyiswa Makhubo picked Hector Peterson up and Antoinette, the sister who is next to me here of Hector Peterson, she was crying hysterically alongside where Makhubo was carrying Hector Peterson running towards the direction where our press car was parked. After taking those pictures I helped Antoinette and Mbuyiswa Makhubo to put Hector Peterson in the press car to be taken to the Pafene clinic where he was certified dead by the doctor.
133 Mr Peter Magubane [JB00837/01GTSOW], another journalist covering the events of 16 June, told the Commission that, after the shooting of Hector Peterson, “everything went wild” and the students set fire to “anything that belonged to the Western Board”. Magubane went to Orlando West where he found the body of Dr Edelstein, who died at approximately 12h00. “The police were surrounding the body. There was a placard that was put on his head that read ‘Afrikaans is a drug to our children’.”
134 The death of Dr Edelstein, a WRAB official, was one of the most ironic events of the 16 June uprising. Dr Edelstein was deeply involved in the Soweto community and had recently published research on Soweto and other townships in which he warned the government that unless the political and socio-economic position of black South Africans were changed, they would face serious discontent.
135 Student leader Mr Dan Montsisi described to the Commission the random nature of the murder of Edelstein and the way in which the events of the day radically brutalised students’ attitudes to any apparent representative of apartheid authority:
As we passed the municipal office, the students remembered that there was a white man when they passed at the door of the office. Now unfortunately this was Dr Edelstein and the students went for him. They stoned him and so on and they burnt the office and they threw him inside the office, burning … it’s unfortunate because any other white man who could have been found in Soweto on that particular day could not have survived the anger of the students. So the Commission should note that when we passed the municipal office with the white man standing outside, he was an ordinary person to us, but when we came back he was an enemy.
136 Violence continued unabated until nightfall. Mr Montsisi told the Commission that, at the Tshabalala garage in Jabavu, he found the body of a man who had been driving a truck that belonged to his employer. Montsisi said:
He was asked to hand the truck over. He refused and said I am working for my children. He was mercilessly killed and set alight. It was for the first time for me to see a charred body of a human being.
137 Ms Christina Buthelezi [JB00682/01GTSOW] was wounded in the police shooting that day. She told the Commission that she had been unaware of the plans for a demonstration and was returning from the house of a relative when she was caught in the random shooting. She is still confined to a wheelchair as a result of injuries to her spine.
What hurts me most is at the hospital they would come with firearms. They would actually point guns at us lying on the beds asking us, “Do you know power? Were you a leader at school in any way?” The girl that was next to Hector on the picture, they were thinking I am the one. They actually insisted that I must say yes, I am the one.
138 The violence quickly spread to other townships. The Commission received many statements from victims of the conflict that erupted from 17 June in Alexandra where twenty people were killed and twenty-five wounded in police shooting.
139 An unemployed youth, Mr Jabu Malinga [JB01887/01GTTEM], was shot in the back when he became involved in the street battles in Alexandra. He told the Commission that he joined a group of protesting students on 18 June and that the police opened fire randomly on crowds of protesters wherever they were congregated.
They were shooting all the time and that is when they hit me at the back. And this bullet went right through the left arm, next to the ribs. And they arrested me on 12th Avenue. Bleeding like that they put me into a van and dropped me off at the clinic. I stayed there for two weeks.
140 Ms Ramotsobane Masenya [JB01872/01GTTEM] told the Commission that, when her mother saw the violence that erupted in Alexandra on 19 June, she left home to look for her children. She was shot by the police whilst crossing an empty stand:
They shoot her at the back. The bullet penetrated right through her left breast. She tried to walk. A lady called Elsie told us that our mother has been shot. I wanted to know how did they shoot her. And I found her bending on the grass. She was praying that her ancestors and God must help her pull through. I managed to get a car in order to take my mother that she would be taken to the clinic … [She was] transferred … to the General Hospital [where] she passed away.
141 Ms Irene March [JB01863/01GTTEM] lost her son Phillip on 18 June 1976. She told the Commission that Alexandra was in chaos that day. She was told by some of her son’s friends that Phillip had been shot and was taken by them to the spot where it had happened:
They have shown me a black spot in the school yard and they told me that is Phillip’s blood there. The black spot was Phillip’s blood.