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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 125

Paragraph Numbers 20 to 28

Volume 6

Section 2

Chapter 4

Subsection 3

THE STORY OF MRS LEONILLA TENZA

20. Early in Mrs Te n z a ’s interview5 6 she said, ‘Hmm! I have been really traumatised in life.’ Born in 1932, she described being bitten by police dogs while ‘we were toyi-toying for our freedom’. She said that she fell while running away fro m police dogs and consequently lost a child. At the time, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi was still a member of the ANC. Subsequently, when the ANC was banned, ‘we all joined IFP-Inkatha’. Her brother divorced his first wife when their infant son, Eugene Xolisani Tenza, was seven months old, and Mrs Te n z a took the child in and raised him. When her nephew grew up, there were few employment opportunities and she recommended that he join the KwaZulu Police (KZP).

21. On 13 June 1989, during a period of great tension between the ANC and IFP in KwaZulu/Natal, Xolisani was murdered. This incident formed the basis of Mrs Tenza’s testimony to the Commission.

22. According to Mrs Tenza, she was made to witness her already injured nephew being axed to death. For some time she was also in danger and had to remain on the run until a community member finally arranged a meeting at which ANC ‘comrades’ were persuaded not to kill her and to allow her to return home.

23 Among other difficulties, Mrs Tenza now had sole responsibility for her slain nephew’s two-year-old child. She claimed that her own children were not killed because, ‘they were ANC members to avoid being killed’. Her business as an indigenous healer or inyanga was severely affected, as clients were afraid to consult her because of her alleged political leanings. She has subsequently lost a daughter to AIDS, and this daughter left four children ‘of whom I do not know their fathers’. One of these grandchildren is apparently mentally handicapped, and is in Grade I at the age of fourteen. One of her sons also died of a stroke ‘while they were toyi - toying’. Another child was laid off from work for reasons she did not specify.

24. Currently, Mrs Tenza is struggling to support her various dependants. She feels emotionally unable to continue her i n y anga practice and is helping the health authority with health education issues, specifically in relation to HIV/AIDS. She says that she has a heart condition and must take medication for this. Her participation in the local health forum has been compromised by her health:

They called me recently for a Forum since I have not been able to attend them because I was sick for a long time last year. I underwent an operation because my intestines were burst due to my low blood flow. The organisers of these Forums were surprised of my behaviour because we were working well. They w e re the ones who referred me to the hospital. My behaviour was so odd: I used to have outbursts and did not wait for my turn to talk, and confabulated when asked questions. I did not know what was happening in my head and these people came to my house to beg me to come back to the Forum. I then got better because I used to cry every day before .

25. At the outset of the interview, Mrs Tenza seemed robust and full of humour. As she began to relate her story, she became tearful and deeply upset. Although she claimed to be ‘better’ than in the previous year (1999), her distress was very apparent.

26. As we have seen with other cases, the particular event Mrs Tenza reported to the Commission was little more than a punctuation mark in a life of ongoing difficulties. Both she and her family made political decisions at times influenced at least as much by attempts to survive violence and poverty as by ideological persuasions. The tone throughout is of a long struggle to eke out a meagre existence in a violent world. Mrs Te n z a ’s life story paints a vivid picture of the convoluted political history of KwaZulu/Natal and the human consequences. The awful experience of seeing her nephew murdered in front of her is just one example of a broader tragedy.

27. It is very difficult to separate out the complex mixture of physical and emotional complaints and distress suffered by Mrs Tenza. The distinction between mind and body that remains intrinsic to much of western biomedicine does not make any sense to her. She does not experience physical and emotional sensations separately.

28. Mrs Te n z a ’s experience points to important issues to be considered when planning services. One of the most significant is that commonly held distinctions between the physical and the emotional may not apply to all those who need assistance. Other distinctions – for example, between financial, educational, and emotional needs – may also prove problematic. Emotional issues can play a decisive role in the extent to which a person is able to learn or earn a living; conversely, success or failure in learning impacts not only on economic well being, but also on emotions.

56 Interview conducted with deponent by the Commission, 2 0 0 0 .
 
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