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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 5 of Episode 12

20:26Queenstown in the Eastern Cape is more or less the same size as Kroonstad, but the stories the Truth Commission heard there were very different. This is Mlungisi cemetery where 11 victims of the 1985 Queenstown massacre lie at rest. The trouble began with a consumer boycott against white businesses in August. On the 17th of November, in the run-up to Christmas, the people of Mlungisi gathered at this church for a report back on a possible decision to relax the boycott. Daniel Lolwane was chairperson of the Mlungisi Residence ad hoc committee, and one of the few leaders who had not been detained in the previous weeks. He addressed the people that day.Full Transcript and References
21:06When I was giving the report I saw a police caspir, a yellow police caspir, with a Captain Venter in it. They had a camera … see that window there; it was open because it was hot inside. I saw him taking photographs. It was Captain Venter in that one. And then suddenly somebody told me that, as I was reporting, somebody tried to indicate to me that there was talking outside. So, as a chairperson I had to investigate what was happening. Then, I handed over to Mister Denis Echuba who was the secretary at that time. As I walked towards that door there, as I opened the door a teargas canister hit that door and so I had to push back. It was that time that I noticed that on this side there was also two caspirs. Those that belonged to the South African National Defence Force. And there were caspirs now surrounding the church building. But the teargas canister was coming from a caspir between Baptist Church and the Moravian Church. It was facing this church. So, suddenly there was ...moreFull Transcript
23:39Outside the hall police were driving through the township streets, wildly shooting. People were frantically scattering across the dusty old township, trying to escape the bullets of the sharpshooters. // Every person was feeling deaf. Because people running into their houses they could not … although the police were also shooting into the houses as well. Hence Mrs. Thobeka is still having a bullet in her stomach now. So the people … there was tension you see … people running into houses. But the youth, realizing that by staying at home it’s going to be difficult, because the police had now a chance of victimizing them by taking them from their parents. Now, what happened was that, that shooting lasted the whole night. The morning of the 18th shooting started again, because the police were now terrorizing people in this caspirs. They were shooting every young man that they could see and every young girl that they could see on the street. Full Transcript
24:40One of those was COSAS member, Thamsanqa Kamati. His mother and brother testified before the Truth Commission this week. // The following day I went to the mortuary. It was in a bad state. While we were sitting there, blood was just flowing through the door and into the drain. Inside, one corpse was stacked on top of the other. There was a very bad smell because the fridge was off. The blood was green. // Did you see the body of your son? // I saw the body of my son and I could see that he had been shot. Full Transcript
25:30Her only other child, Siphiwo who was 16 at the time was also shot. He and his cousin managed to survive a torture ordeal here at the Queenstown show grounds. // The police came to me and beat me and kicked me. He was taken inside … and inside there that’s where they beat him very hard. They beat him, they tried to wear him a plastic, that plastic where he is going to be suffocated and die. I was taken from here to Tilden I was blind sighted, I was tied up, my hands were tied up at the back and then I was beaten there in Tilden I was lying down, they left me there. Knowing that, thinking that later they would find me there, and they would kill me there. Full Transcript and References
26:18By the end of the next day scores of people were wounded and dead. Many wounded were treated at home for fear of being arrested at hospitals. But these were the lucky ones. Some say, up to 17 people lost their lives. // I will say for people that were hurt, I will call it something like 300 to 400, but those that were killed and buried in Queenstown were 11. But as I am saying, they decided now surrounding the township. There were people from the farms that used to come to the townships so they went back to the farms, they were shot. That is why I say, those that were killed in Queenstown and buried in Queenstown were 11 but there were some people from the farms that were also killed. Full Transcript
27:03They were laid to rest here in Mlungisi graveyard on a warm summer’s day during a typical Eastern Cape mass funeral. The funeral party was surrounded by caspirs and they were watched by the very same people who had killed them. Today, 11 years later, 17 November is still commemorated as the day of the Queenstown massacre.Full Transcript
27:25Seven years later on the 3rd of December 1992 tragedy struck Queenstown again. A limpet mine, claimed to have been planted by the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, ripped the local Spur restaurant apart. Shane Brody and his sister Michelle were amongst those present that fateful night. Both suffered serious wounds. Shane was unable to complete his university education due to memory loss. Michelle is deaf in one ear. Full Transcript and References
27:52We sat at this table over here, and later on there was, when we actually arrived here there were three black people sitting at the table. And they sat here for quite a while; the one chap actually was staring at my sister. I had my back at them unfortunately. He was staring so hard at my sister that she actually asked you know, why is that chap staring at me the whole time? He sat there with a smile on his face, staring. And it wasn’t long after that, two other gentlemen came and sat, took their place. And a few seconds after that we just heard this terrible explosion.Full Transcript and References
28:20Les Barnes had briefly left his chair under which the bomb had been planted. A table leg and a six inch nail were later removed from his body. // My clothes, my shoes, I had contact lenses, they were blown out. I then asked somebody to help me, a young lady came across and I gave her my number to phone. She then phoned home, and told my wife what had actually happened. The ambulances seemed to take a long time to get there but I’m not too sure how long it was. I was then taken to the Queenstown Frontier Hospital.Full Transcript and References
29:08I had hair right down to my waist. And that had all set alight, it was burning, I was walking like hitting it out. And our skin, it must have been the sulphur or something in the bomb, it was burning like an acid had been poured from the top of your head right down to your feet. It just carried on burning. And it felt, my ankles were so full of shrapnel and my one ankle had actually broken. That when I walked out here, it felt like I was walking on stumps. When I got out there I actually told my sister, ‘please look and just hold me, are my legs still there’, because it was in such incredible pain. Full Transcript
29:38I just feel that the people who bombed us were obviously so blind with hatred, that they didn’t actually really know what they were doing. It became a very casual night for them. // I’d like to know who did it and for what reason. If it was a political matter, as I say, a person should attack the police or the army, why attack innocent people sitting here enjoying themselves, who never had any ill feeling towards blacks before? And I thought people should be found and justice should be done. Because they haven’t asked forgiveness or anything. Full Transcript and References
30:15And if the identity of the bombers ever became known, how would the survivors feel about amnesty for this deed? // That’s for the Commission to decide. But I feel that as long as the thing is investigated and if they should apply for amnesty and it’s successful I wouldn’t really have a problem with that, no.Full Transcript
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