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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 131
Paragraph Numbers 44 to 55
THE CASE OF SIYABULELA TWABU
44. While the families of the ‘Nietverdiend Ten’ and others still search for the remains of their children who died inside South Africa, other families live with the pain of knowing their children are buried in foreign lands. Siyabulela Tw a b u was 19 years old when he left his Transkei home and went into exile. His mother told the Commission how she learnt of his fate:6 1
Time and time again the police would come. Sometimes I would be at work: I am a teacher. I requested politely that they should not come to my workplace because the people from the village are against the police. They were going to be under the impression that I was liaising with the police. After a while I was called; there was a meeting, a teachers’ meeting and I was called outside. Mr Sifuma was outside. I got into the car, he drove a bit, gave me a newspaper. T here was an article about Siyabulela’s death – apparently he had been shot.
45. Siyabulela was one of six Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army (APLA) members killed in a shoot-out with Transkei and Lesotho security forces at Quacha’s Nek on the Transkei–Lesotho border in March 1985. Their bodies were found several days later, decomposing in a forest. Siyabulela was buried in a grave in Lesotho, without his family being present :
We went to the funeral. We got there; he was already buried. Because we were travelling on the gravel road, we were trying to escape from the police. When we got to Maseru, it was too late. The police took us to where he was staying. I came back from the funeral and I continued with my life.
46. Mrs Twabu made the following plea to the Commission:
I request that my child’s body be exhumed from Lesotho because he is buried next to a river. The riverbanks are quite big and it is not safe. Could the Commission help me with medical aid, I am mentally ill, I am also – my heart also is ailing. His father died in 1983, then my son in 1985. After that, I – my health started deteriorating.
47. These scenarios illustrate the kind of unfinished business raised at the Commission that will be impossible to follow through without the necessary resources and skills.
48. In many cases, the mere fact that information emerged at the Commission did not lead to a quick and easy solution. In too many instances, this resulted in a protracted and painful search that, for many, may never reach conclusion.61 Evidence by Mrs N Twabu at HRC hearing, L u s i k i s i k i , 26 March 1997.
THE STORY OF MAGISENG ABRAM MOTHUPHI
49. Mr Magiseng Mothuphi was 21 years old when he, his brother, his sister and seven others stopped at a roadblock between Krugersdorp and Ventersdorp in 1993. This was not a police roadblock but was manned by a group of heavily armed Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) members. The occupants were forced out of the vehicle:
[They] took us out of the car and they said we should raise up our hands. Then they searched us. After they searched us, they showed us where we should stay. We sat down in a line. Whilst we were sitting there in a line, they were asking us questions as to … where do we come from and where do we go, about our work situations, as to whether are we employed or not. At the time when we w e re questioned, they were hitting us with the gun butts on the head. I was bleeding at the time with my nose. Then I was bending my head …
[After] that then they told us that we were members of the ANC. Simon Nkompone said that we are not members of the ANC and we don’t know anything about the ANC. Again they started to hit us [and] told us that we are not telling them the truth. … [Then] they were conniving amongst themselves. After that they came back and then I heard a gun shot; I didn’t know what happened. Then I woke up. I was bleeding and when I looked at myself on the mirror of the car, I was bleeding and injured. Next to me was Simon Nkompone. Then the young [girl] who is my [niece], was crying. 6 2
50. Mr Mothuphi’s brother and sister and two other passengers were killed in the shooting and his nose was destroyed. For seven years, the young man covered the hole in his face with an ‘Elastoplast’ bandage. In 1998, Mr Mothuphi was invited to attend the amnesty hearing of the AWB members involved in this incident. At the time of the hearing, Mr Mothuphi had not been declared a victim of a gross violation of human rights by the Commission, as he had not made a statement to the Committee on Human Rights Violations (HRV C ) .
51. The sight of Mr Mothuphi in the television coverage of the hearing sparked the interest of Greg Bass, head of the department of dental technology at Natal Technikon, which specialises in the construction of facial prostheses. Mr Bass contacted the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee (RRC) to offer assistance. He said that his department had funds for charity work and would be in a position to pay for the treatment. This proactive response from the doctor was unusual, compared with the usual passive witnessing of victim testimony that characterised the attitude of the majority of viewers.
52. A lengthy wait ensued until the Committee had finalised the matter and referred Mr Mothuphi to the RRC as a victim, whereupon he became eligible for reparation. Thereafter, the RRC arranged for the Technikon to make a prosthetic nose for Mr Mothuphi. His transport to Durban was donated by Transnet and he used his interim reparation grant to pay for his stay while he was having treatment .
53. After having the prosthetic nose fitted, Mr Mothuphi was asked if his life had changed:
My life has changed very much. Before this operation I was afraid even to go to the shops because many people looked at me and stared. Since I got this nose, I’m free. I want to go somewhere I can study so that I can get a job but it’s hard because I have no money. After the accident [violation], I lost my girlfriend because of my face; but since the treatment I have found a new girlfriend, I’m very, very happy now. 63
54. Months after the medical procedure, Mr Mothuphi approached the Commission with a request that may be seen as a symbolic and instructive metaphor. He telephoned the Commission to ask for the contact details of the Technikon as he had run out of the special surgical glue needed to attach the prosthetic nose to his face. Although undoubtedly an oversight, such a situation highlights the crucial importance of the sustainability of any reparation intervention and the potential for counter-productive and traumatic side effects from quick fix solutions. This example also demonstrates clearly that one intervention, however significant, is insufficient to address the wide-ranging consequences of a particular violation.
55. At the same time, unique as it is in terms of the usual experiences of victims and the Commission, Mr Mothupi’s story is important because it illustrates the potential benefit that interventions from a number of sectors can have. It also shows how the amnesty process identified victims who would not otherwise have entered into the Commission process .62 Evidence by M Mothupi heard at hearing of the Committee in the amnesty application of AWB members for the ‘Rodora Crossing’ incident in Johannesburg , 12 June 1998. 63 From communication with the RRC.