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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 649

Paragraph Numbers 447 to 452

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 62

447 At a mass meeting attended by almost all the adults in Vleifontein, a twelve-person committee called the Venda Crisis Committee (VCC) was elected, representing teachers, students and workers. The VCC’s brief was to negotiate for the reversal of the incorporation or, if this was not possible, to allow Vleifontein residents to return to Tshikota township.

448 The Venda government responded by moving its army and police into the township. Homes of VCC members were raided and activists were assaulted and tortured by the Venda Police. In the early hours of 13 June 1986, the Venda Police detained three young VCC members , Mr Steven Nemavide, Mr Russel Molefe and Mr Mpho Ronald Mashau. According to eyewitnesses the three were severely sjambokked after their arrest. Soon afterwards five other members of the VCC were detained, including Mr Edward Makgato, Mr Punki Phulwana, Mr Peter Tshikota, Mr Stephen Mokoditoa, Mr Sonnyboy Mulaudzi and Bethuel Mudau.

449 The parents of fourteen-year-old Bethuel Mudau [JB03119/02NPLTM] told the Commission that Bethuel died shortly after being released from three months’ detention at Vuwani police station. He was unable to return to school as a result of constant ill health and what his parents described as “a wound on the head”.

450 Pitso Manamela [JB03207/02NPPLTM], a sixteen-year-old student involved in anti-incorporation protests, was detained and tortured on 13 June 1986 after allegedly having participated in petrol-bombing the home of a policeman who supported the incorporation of Vleifontein into Venda. Manamela was later charged with public violence.

451 On the same day, a bus transporting Vleifontein residents to work in Louis Trichardt was stopped at a roadblock manned by Venda Police. After commuters refused to disembark, the bus driver was ordered to drive to Tshitale police station, twenty kilometres away, where the commuters were ordered out and sjambokked by a row of policemen. The police said the passengers had to realise that Vleifontein was now part of Venda. The commuters were eventually released on bail three days later. The Commission heard that Ms Elisa Nthangeni [JB03334/02NPLTM] was one of the passengers on the bus who had been beaten by police.

452 Mr Muzila Phulwana [JB03216/02NPLTM] was also stopped at a roadblock on 13 June and was asked whether he had paid his Venda taxes. Mr Phulwana was a long-term community activist who had fought against the removal of residents from Tshikota township to Vleifontein and was now a member of the VCC opposing the incorporation of the township into Venda. Phulwana was briefly detained before being released and re-detained on 15 June. After being beaten at Vuwani and Sibasa police stations, Phulwana was taken to Masise, where he was held for three months in solitary confinement. He was tortured with electric shocks and beaten. Convinced that the food he was being given was poisoned, he refused food and water, and was eventually admitted to the Trizine hospital.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WERE SEVERELY BEATEN AND ILL TREATED IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE BOPHUTHATSWANA POLICE AND THE RESIDENTS OF BRAKLAAGTE, WHO WERE RESISTING INCORPORATION INTO THE HOMELAND. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE BOPHUTHATSWANA POLICE AND THE BOPHUTHATSWANA GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SEVERE ILL TREATMENT OF THE BRAKLAAGTE RESIDENTS AND FOR GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLICE REFUSED TO ALLOW A JULY 1989 MEETING OF BRAKLAAGTE AND LEEUWFONTEIN RESIDENTS TO GO AHEAD, AND FIRED ON THE CROWD WITH TEAR GAS AND RUBBER BULLETS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE BRAKLAAGTE AND LEEUWFONTEIN COMMUNITY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUBSEQUENT KILLING OF NINE POLICEMEN AT THE SCENE, AND THEREBY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE VENDA SECURITY FORCES OCCUPIED THE VLEIFONTEIN TOWNSHIP AND ARRESTED, DETAINED AND TORTURED ACTIVISTS AND MEMBERS OF THE VLEIFONTEIN CRISIS COMMITTEE WHO RESISTED THE TOWNSHIP’S INCORPORATION INTO VENDA. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE DETENTION OF A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD BETHUEL MUDAU FOR A PERIOD OF THREE MONTHS AND HIS SEVERE ILL TREATMENT BY THE VENDA POLICE RESULTED IN HIS DEATH SHORTLY AFTER HIS RELEASE. THE COMMISSION FINDS THE VENDA SECURITY FORCES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
 
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