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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 127
Paragraph Numbers 29 to 35
‘THIS IS MY FATHER AND LOOK WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO HIM’: THE STORY OF SERGEANT RICHARD MOTHASI
29. Richard Mothasi was a police sergeant based at the Hammanskraal Police College. An assault by a white fellow officer left him with a burst eardrum. After he had laid a charge of assault, several unsuccessful efforts were made to pressure him into withdrawing charges. On 30 November 1987, operatives of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch shot Sergeant Mothasi dead, allegedly at the request of the then Divisional Commissioner of Police in the Northern Transvaal. His wife, Mrs Busisiwe Irene Mothasi, was also killed in the incident.
30. Some of those responsible for the killing applied for amnesty and testified that they had been told that Sergeant Mothasi was suspected of having made contact with the ANC.
3 1 . Mrs Mothasi’s mother, Mrs Gloria Hlabangane, told the Amnesty Committee (the Committee) of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of her daughter and s o n - i n - l a w :5 7
I received a telephone call in the morning as I was just preparing myself to go to town, and they said I should go to Hammanskraal … And I started to panic because at the time I knew that something had happened … I sat down and I begged [to be told] what had happened so that I may be able to gather enough courage to face the truth. Then [I heard] that my son-in-law had died as well as I rene had died.
We went to Ire n e ’s home … I got out of the car … When I got out of the car there was a hearse, and when I went into the kitchen, I came across somebody pushing a stretcher and I had a look. I saw that it was my daughter, Irene, and I discovered that my daughter had died and she had one wound on the forehead . And I left her because I realised that she had died. I went into the dining room … When I got there I discovered that Mothasi was laying in a pool of blood. And he had also been shot. And the spent cartridges were on the floor, his brains were also splattered, as well as certain pieces of the skull were on the floor, scattered all over the place and I looked at his ear, something whitish was coming out of his ears – I don’t know whether it was his brains – and he was also dead. And from there I ran. I went into the bedroom. That is their son’s bedroom, or their child’s bedroom. I looked for the child, but I couldn’t find the child. I looked in all the other rooms without any success, and I started getting very confused at this stage because I didn’t know where the child was. And when I went outside, I heard – I could feel somebody grabbing me and it was the child. I took the child … He was five years old. I took the child. I lifted [him] to my chest and the parents were taken in the hearse…
32. Asked where the child had been during the murders, Mrs Hlabangane testified:
When I asked my neighbours, they told me that the child was inside the house at that time, but nobody knows as to how he survived, because he escaped unscathed, but they heard the child screaming throughout the night asking for help, saying ‘help me, help me’. He realised that something was happening, probably he hid somewhere, but people were woken up by the screams of the child inside the house. And my next-door neighbour came into the house in the m o rning to fetch the child and they stayed with the child … He stayed with the corpses of his parents and he was running from pillar to post trying to wake his p a rents up, but there was no help coming at that particular moment.
33. While still at the house, three policemen arrived. Mrs Hlabangane thought that they had come to express sympathy about a fellow colleague’s death. Instead they demanded Sergeant Mothasi’s uniform. After removing the insignia, they threw the uniform back at her, telling her to give it to her ‘old man’. One of them, a white police office r, then brandished a gun:
Do I know what a gun is used for … do you see what the gun has done to Mothasi and his wife. He said ‘if you talk too much, this is what you get’ and at the time he was pointing the gun at my fore head .
34. Since the death of Richard and Busisiwe Mothasi, Mrs Hlabangane and her husband, a pensioner, have cared for their grandson. They receive R500 for child maintenance from Richard Mothasi’s pension, so they are able to pay for transport, groceries and schooling. However, her grandson requires ongoing psychological support:
My grandson didn’t care throughout, he didn’t show any signs of being disturbed. But when he grew up, there were certain signs, even when he gets a newspaper w here there is something about a person who has died, he always came with the newspaper clipping and showed it to me. At some stage he got a Tribute magazine that had his father’s photo and he showed it to me and he said: ‘This is my father and look what they have done to him’. And since then he has been very disturbed, I had to seek medical attention for him … I ... take him to the clinic, but now I am facing a difficulty because where he is attending they want medical aid and I don’t have a medical aid and that is the problem that I am facing at this juncture .
35. While Mrs Hlabangane and her husband struggle to care for their grandson, t h re e58 of the perpetrators responsible for the killing received amnesty.57 Evidence by G Hlabangane at a hearing before the Committee, Pretoria , 5 March 1997. 58 A fourth person involved in the incident, Constable Joe Mamasela, did not apply for amnesty.