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Human Rights Violation Hearings
Type 1 M GELDENHUYS, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, SUBMISSIONS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Starting Date 29 April 1996
Location METHODIST CHURCH, JOHANNESBURG
Names MARINA GELDENHUYS
Case Number GO/00 JOHANNESBURG
CHAIRPERSON: I apologise that there was maybe a crossing of wires because we announced that we start at nine and I gather that some were told that we were starting at 9:30. We are starting now and I welcome you. I declare this session open and hand over to the Deputy-Chairperson, Dr Boraine.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. May I introduce the panel. At the extreme left which is your extreme right Professor Piet Meiring, who is a member of the Rehabilitation and Reparation Committee based here in Gauteng. Wynand Malan Commissioner and Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Violations Committee based here in Johannesburg, in Gauteng. Hlengiwe Mkhize, Commissioner and Chairperson of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee. A brand new member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee from our region, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Dr Sibongele Magwaza, and Dr Faizal Randera, Commission, member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and coordinator of our Gauteng regional office. Dr Alex Boraine the Deputy-Chairperson of the Commission and a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee. Yasmin Sooka Commissioner and Deputy-Chairperson of the Human Rights Violations Committee based here in Gauteng. Joyce Seroke member of the Human Rights Violations Committee based in Gauteng. Russel Ally member of the Human Rights Violations Committee based here in Gauteng. Tiny Maya, member of the Human Rights Violations Committee from our Eastern Cape region. Dr Mampule Ramashala, Commissioner, member of the Reparations and Rehabilitations Committee. Chris de Jager, Commissioner and member of the Amnesty Committee. Hugh Lewin who is a
DR BORAINE: Chairperson in welcoming everybody here today I would like to make special mention of Dr and Mrs Arwag, very pleased to see them here tonight, Noreen and Frans, and also Mr Vardi and Mr Chiba who are members of Parliament in the National Assembly. Dr Kiesner I gather is also here, I haven't personally seen where he is sitting but wherever you are you are very welcome also.
Marina I am very pleased to welcome you to the Commission hearings. You are the first this morning. In one way that means you don't have to sit and wait and wait and wait, on the other hand it's perhaps a little more nervous for you to be right at the very beginning. So let me ask you to please relax and just take it easy. Can you hear my voice? Can you hear the translations? Thank you very much indeed. I am not sure who is sitting with you?
DR BORAINE: Mrs Rautenbach you are very welcome and we are very pleased that you were able to come as well. Marina you were very young, you still are of course, but you were very young, 13 years ago, when your whole life was changed very dramatically and very suddenly and that's the story that you are going to tell us. But before you do I would be very grateful if you would please stand so that we can take the oath.
MR MALAN: As a background to your story we can take it that it's common cause that there was a car bomb explosion in Church Street, that it took place on the 20th of May 1983, that 19 people were killed of which 12 were civilians and 7 were defence force personnel and about 219 people were injured. You were one of those injured. So you don't have to deal with the historic background, but we would like to hear your story, what happened that day and how you experienced it from the very first moment that you became aware of it, please.
MS GELDENHUYS: As you all know I was very young. I had just left school and it was my first job, I was working for the defence force, for the Air Force, and my youth was lost very suddenly. I was forced to grow up very quickly. ..(tape ends) ... at the defence force. It was an act of cowardice which was committed and it damaged and injured more civilians than anybody else. Up until this day nobody from government actually did anything after this incident, and on the 20th of next month it will be 13 years ago that it happened. There were defence force members, personnel who received compensation, who are still receiving medical assistance, and I as a civilian who was working for the defence force received medication, medical help and
MS GELDENHUYS: My eardrums were ruptured, I now have a hearing problem, I only have a certain percentage of hearing. I have very deep wounds and scars on my legs, it left very ugly scars. I don't have the full use of my thumbs. One is now shorter than the other one. I have internal injuries. I had facial injuries which also left scars and of course the emotional damage is incalculable.
MR MALAN: You say that the medical aid covered a lot of your medical expenses but after that no provision was made for your medical costs? Did you undergo any remedial plastic surgery which cost you a lot of money?
MS GELDENHUYS: I had to wait a certain period of time before undergoing surgery. Tissue had to be grafted and grown on my legs. Now apparently this operation cannot be performed in this country, it has to be done overseas, maybe things have changed now perhaps after such a lapse of time but assistance for that kind of surgery, financially speaking, I certainly don't have.
instance loss of handbag and contents, clothes, and an amount of R300,00 was paid to my mother for fuel expenses. I lived in Springs at the time and I was treated in Pretoria Hospital so I received about R765,66.
MR MALAN: Initially you said it was an act of cowardice, have you been able to place this whole incident in a bigger context? Have you asked yourself what the point of it was and what the consequences of it were? How do you feel about this now, the conflict which took place in the last 30 years, what are your views on this?
MS GELDENHUYS: I still feel that it was a cowardly act. We all know who were responsible for it. I can quote the newspaper reports, dates and give you those details. On the 22nd of May 1983 in the report the ANC leader Oliver Tambo had said earlier in that year before the incident, that they would target soft targets, namely the public, and that means innocent people would be involved, not defence force people or people involved in politics, people like myself we had just left school, we had no political involvement, we didn't know about the political situation in our country really.
MR MALAN: May I ask you a last question. You are aware that the inquest in this case found that the two people who were killed were the people who had planted the bomb but no further information came to light about the origins of the bomb and so forth, are you still keen to find out what happened, who these people were who had given the orders or are these details not relevant to you anymore? Do they not bother you?
MS MKHIZE: Miss Geldenhuys if I may ask you you emphasise the fact that you were robbed of your youth can you just maybe share with the Commission briefly as to your understanding of what was happening in the society at that point in time if you had any understanding, especially politically, just in brief?
MS GELDENHUYS: I can't say that politically anything happened to me because as I said earlier I wasn't really politically aware at that time. From a very early age I was confused as regards politics. We didn't really know what was right and what was wrong and as far as society was concerned the way I was handled and treated is that people stared and asked questions and you had to tell the same story over and over again. Many people had already forgotten about it and couldn't even recall such an incident.
PROF MEIRING: Miss Geldenhuys just a simple question. After having gone this very difficult and traumatic experience which happened years ago and you are still struggling with the after effects what do you think, where could the Truth and Reconciliation Commission help you, in what way?
DR MAGWAZA: Ms Geldenhuys you have made mention of the fact that you suffered severe emotional trauma, have you had some form of treatment for the trauma and do you think it has helped you in any way?
MS GELDENHUYS: No I wouldn't be able to say that. No I think I am able to relate to people quite normally but I do feel that I am now in a position which I wouldn't have chosen for myself. I want to become a beauty therapist and I couldn't.
MS SOOKA: How do you feel about the political situation now? At that point in time you said that you were an innocent bystander caught in the conflict, how do you feel now 13 years later about the fact that there is a new government in power? And you also said that nobody in government listened to you and took care of you, how do you feel about that situation now?
CHAIRPERSON: To all the people from Gauteng who were injured in the same kind of incident as you were we are deeply sorry, we are so sorry that so many atrocities were committed in our country on both sides of the struggle, and we really hope and trust that this Commission can make some contribution to the reconciliation of our people, to the healing of our nation. We really hope that you will be able to put this experience behind you and that God will help you to heal these wounds.
Now that we have a new government in this country we hope that all of us will try to forget the past and put it behind us. Now that it is possible to come and give testimony in front of the Commission and we hope that perhaps somebody in authority will be able to express his regret for this kind of incident in which you were injured. On behalf of this Commission I would like to repeat once again that we are deeply sorry that so many innocent victims were injured and we hope that God will bless you. Thank you very much.