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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 609
Paragraph Numbers 290 to 299
290 During these years, protests over rents coalesced with student protests about a range of educational issues. Following the January 1984 protests and clashes with the police in Atteridgeville near Pretoria, student leaders were suspended and schools in the townships closed down by the Department of Education. In response to police brutality, students intensified attacks on the homes of those perceived to be sympathetic to the policies of the state.
291 A thirteen-year-old pupil, Daniel Mothupi [JB01010/02PS], was shot dead on 10 February 1986 by a policeman while he was erecting a roadblock during the school boycott in Atteridgeville. According to Daniel’s father, Mr Piet Mothupi, his son had been forced to participate in the boycott. At the inquest into Daniel’s death, the magistrate found that the shooting was justified “as a public violence case”.
292 In August 1984, students at Katlehong’s twenty-nine schools began boycotting classes. The epicentre of Katlehong’s school rebellion was Lethukuthula High School, where pupils left the school grounds, stoned vehicles and erected barricades. Three delivery vehicles were set alight near Katlehong High School. On the same day, 29 August, eight police vans surrounded Thokoza’s Thoko Thaba High School and fired tear gas at pupils trapped in classrooms. The pupils were then sjambokked and beaten. The next day, Katlehong pupils marched to Thoko Thaba High School to gather more support.
293 In Tembisa, a July 1984 schools boycott involving about 4 000 pupils from five secondary schools marked the beginning of open conflict in the township. During August, pupils marched through the streets of Tembisa demanding that they be allowed to form representative councils. They set fire to a secondary school and the township mayor’s house, and also tried to attack teachers and community councillors. Police arrested eleven people.
294 Ms Matilda Mavundla [JB01281/01ERKWA] told the Commission that her fourteenyear-old son, Kenneth, was shot by police on his way home from school in Wattville in August 1984. Teachers had sent students home when they saw police all over the location.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE INITIAL PROTEST ACTION SPILLED OVER INTO STUDENT DISSATISFACTION OVER A NUMBER OF ISSUES, INCLUDING CORPORAL PUNISHMENT AND POOR TEACHING. THIS RESULTED IN STUDENT PROTESTS WHICH LED TO THE CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT STUDENT PROTESTS WERE MET WITH VIOLENT POLICE ACTION WHICH RESULTED IN MANY STUDENTS BEING KILLED AND INJURED. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE USED DEADLY FORCE WHEN ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF RIOT AND CROWD CONTROL WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN LESS DEATHS AND INJURIES. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER RESPONSIBLE FOR GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE STUDENTS ENGAGED IN RETALIATORY ATTACKS ON ALL STRUCTURES AND INDIVIDUALS PERCEIVED TO BE IDENTIFIED WITH THE STATE SUCH AS POLICE OFFICERS, COUNCILLORS, ADMINISTRATION OFFICES, MAYORS, TEACHERS AND SCHOOLS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT STUDENTS STONED VEHICLES AND SET FIRE TO DELIVERY VEHICLES AND COUNCILLORS’ HOUSES. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE STUDENTS’ CONDUCT CREATED A CLIMATE WHICH EXACERBATED THE VIOLENCE, RESULTING IN GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR WHICH THE STUDENT ORGANISATIONS OF THE TIME MUST ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY.
295 Deaths often led to violent retribution. ANC member Shadrack Mzimkhulu ‘Moozie’ Goliath, died in police custody in 1986 after allegedly planning to bomb the Khutsong police station on the West Rand. According to his brother [JB00407/03WR], Goliath had wanted to avenge the fatal shooting by police of his colleague and friend, named only as Gerry. It took three weeks before the police would release Goliath’s body to his family. His brother alleges that he had been shot in the neck. The Commission heard that the police gave mourners only fifteen minutes to complete the burial, after which they approached and assaulted mourners.
296 During the 1980s, people who gathered for night vigils and funerals of victims of political violence were continually being dispersed violently by police – by sjambokking, teargassing and shooting with live ammunition.
297 Ms Philla Moima [JB01011/02PS] told the Commission that her grandson George was killed in 1986 at the funeral of one of his friends, who had been shot dead during political conflict. George’s funeral also became violent.
298 Ms Joyce Mafuya’s [JB00994/02PS] fifteen-year-old son Godfrey was shot on 7 December 1985. He never recovered from his injuries. Ms Mafuya told the Commission:
He was crippled by then. I use to feed him, he was on a wheelchair. There were still two bullets in his head and two on his body. They only extracted four bullets from him. His hands were lame. I use to feed him, wash him and then take him back for treatment to the hospital until he became very ill … He passed away on the 7 of December 1987. His body was swollen, his head also.
299 The funeral and night vigil for Godfrey Mafuya were closely monitored. Ms Mafuya said that soldiers and police hovered around the home and watched as the family buried the boy.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT NIGHT VIGILS AND FUNERALS BECAME PART OF THE POLITICAL ARENA AND THEREFORE OF THE POLITICAL CONFLICT. FUNERALS AND NIGHT VIGILS WERE OFTEN THE ONLY PLACES WHERE COMMUNITIES COULD GATHER WITHOUT RESTRICTION, BUT THE POLICE THEN BEGAN TO ATTACK PEOPLE WHO GATHERED AT NIGHT VIGILS, RESULTING IN A NUMBER OF DEATHS AND INJURIES. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE ATTEMPTED TO RESTRICT THE NUMBER OF MOURNERS AT NIGHT VIGILS AND FUNERALS. THEIR HEAVY PRESENCE AT FUNERALS INCITED YOUTHS INTO DIRECT CONFRONTATIONS WITH THEM. THE FUNERAL FEAST FOR MOURNERS REPRESENTED ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SYMBOLIC WAYS OF DEALING WITH THE COUNTLESS DEATHS THAT TOOK PLACE. IN THE TESTIMONY HEARD BY THE COMMISSION, ONE OF THE MOST COMMON REFRAINS BY MOTHERS WAS THAT THE POLICE KICKED AND SCATTERED THE FOOD MEANT FOR THE MOURNERS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE WERE RESPONSIBLE IN THIS INSTANCE FOR CREATING A CLIMATE CONDUCIVE TO GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, AND FINDS THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.