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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 122
Paragraph Numbers 12 to 19
THE DEATH OF GEORGE AND LINDY PHAHLE AND JOSEPH MALAZA
12. This is the story Hilda Phahle told the Commission about the South African Defence Force (SADF) raid on Gaborone in 1985:5 3
I will start from ‘is hulle dood, morsdood? ’5 4 These are the words of the SADF members after killing our children on lot 15717 in Gaborone, Botswana, on that fateful night of June 13/14 1985.
It all began on 10 December 1976, when police from John Vorster Square raided and ransacked our home. They did not have the decency to tell us what they were looking for. Their language was spiced with the violence of words. Yes, this was the beginning of the rest of our beloved son George’s life, which ended when he, his wife Lindy née Malaza and her cousin Joseph Malaza were brutally massacre d in their home by the SADF in Botswana in Gaborone on the 14th of June 1985.
Our children fled this oppression of this country. They went into exile, fighting for their rights, for the land of their birth, the land of their forefathers. They were tortured beyond reason and fled. The enemy followed them and brutally massacred them, ‘mors d o o d’, (stone-dead) – yes, ‘m o r s d o o d’ .
It is now time and it is their right to rest in peace on the soil where they were born, the soil they died for. It is time they were brought home to be buried w here we can visit them at our convenience.
The victims, George Phahle, our son, who tried to make ends meet by running a transport business on a hired permit in Botswana; Lindi, BA Social Sciences, his wife, employed as a social worker by the Botswana government; Joseph Malaza, Lind i ’s cousin who was just visiting there for the night. Survivor: Levi, our younger son who lived to tell the story and was adversely affected.
He tells the gruesome story of how the SADF arrived swearing and behaving like people well-drugged and drunk, ordering George to open the door. The door was blown open. Instead of opening, George and Lindi ran into his bedroom, locked the door, and pushed his portable piano against it. Lindi threw herself face down in a corner. George fell over her as a sign of protection. There was nothing impossible with these murderers. They blew the door open, pushed it and the piano fell against Levi’s bed under which he was hiding. God spared him to tell the story.53 Evidence of H Phahle to the HRV hearing in Alexandra , 30 October 1996. 54 ‘Are they dead, s tone - d e a d ? ’
THE STORY OF MRS ELSIE LIZIWE GISHI
13. On 26 December 1976, Mrs Gishi was shot in Nyanga, Cape Town, during a conflict involving riot police, hostel-dwellers and township residents. On the same day, her children went out to look for her husband, who they feared had been attacked by the hostel-dwellers. Mrs Gishi explained:55
When my children got to the house, they found their father full of blood, the house on fire, and he was dead. The hostel-dwellers had killed him, and threw him outside. They had cut his ears. And then my children called people. God gave them strength. This time my son who was 16 years old was put inside a van with his dead f a t h e r, to save him. The men decided that at least the son should survive so that the father has someone remaining to take his place. This is how they explained to me when I came back from hospital. The vans were transporting people; childre n w e re dead; houses burning, and I was taken to Tygerberg Hospital.
14. Mrs Gishi’s husband died in hospital and she describes herself as ‘never physically well’ since the shooting. It proved impossible to remove some of the bullets in her body due to the risk of damaging vital organs. Mrs Gishi complained of paralysis on the one side of her body and said she was unable to undertake various everyday tasks like buttoning her clothes due to brain damage. She has to take sleeping pills and said she would end up in ‘Pinelands’ ( Va l k e n berg Hospital, a psychiatric hospital) were she not to do so. She described what happened when she tried to manage without the pills:
Once I did not take the sleeping pills. I was tired of taking pills; my body is always sore because of all this medication. Just when I was beginning to fall asleep, I experienced a sharp pain, I woke up; the pain moved to the head, I felt like my head was on fire. I screamed and then collapsed. My children came and found me unconscious. The first time was ‘77, my children could not see any f i re and they called the neighbours, who also came and said they couldn’t see anything. So since ‘77 I have been taking these pills.
15. Mrs Gishi’s physical incapacity, emotional difficulties and ongoing financial struggles form the backdrop of everyday life for the family. ‘I lost my health, my life, my husband and my furniture, and I was a worker’, she said.
16. Mrs Gishi has five children. Her only son was stabbed at a party some time ago and he lost the use of one of his hands. Her youngest daughter has experienced emotional difficulties and abuses alcohol as a result. Although it could be argued that these problems with her son and youngest daughter cannot be directly linked to the events of 1976, there is little doubt that the circumstances in which she was shot and partially disabled, and the manner in which she was traumatically widowed and had her home burnt down, impacted on her childre n ’s experiences while growing up.
17.Mrs Gishi’s son, Bonisile, who accompanied his dying father to hospital, must have been affected by this event and his mother’s shooting that same day. The daughters in the family must also have been affected by these tragic events. Any family undergoing these experiences and the ongoing difficulties they cause needs both practical and emotional resources to help them deal with these issues over time. Mrs Gishi’s ability to provide or seek out these resources was traumatically interrupted many years ago and her own mental and physical condition has become a burden for herself and her family over the years.
18. Mrs Gishi reported that she spent the R2000 given to her after she testified before the Commission mainly on furnit u re. She asked, however: ‘Where is my h usba n d ’s share? What is R2000?’ She has, however, had some acknowledgment of what happened to her and her family, as is the case with most of those who received a financial grant of interim reparation.
19. Mrs Gishi’s case raises the recurring question as to whether interim reparation is sufficient .55 Interview conducted with deponent by the Commission, 2 0 0 0 .