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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 61

Paragraph Numbers 110 to 119

Volume 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 10

110 Protests spread to Cradock. On 8 November 1977, seventeen-year-old Mr Rocky James [EC0144/96NWC] was arrested by police under the Riotous Assemblies Act and shot dead the following day. Police said James was questioned in the municipal offices in Lingelihle township and escaped; they gave chase and fired two shots. The attorney acting on behalf of the James family said that township residents walking to work on the morning of 9 November found the boy’s naked body. The family believe James was assaulted by police, and rejected police claims that he was shot while trying to escape.

111 The day after James’ body was found, police fired birdshot at a crowd of stone-throwing youths. Three days later, police opened fire on a crowd that had reportedly set fire to three schools after a funeral.

112 The following month, police fired at a crowd that had gathered in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth to protest about the death in custody of Mr Mzukisi Nobadula (see below). Mr Mongezi Andrew Khomo [EC0659/96PLZ] was shot dead. Khomo’s mother, Ms Monica Thandiswa Khomo, told the Commission:

In the evening of 27 December 1977, I heard gunshots being fired just outside my house. I could not go outside as the shooting was still continuing; instead I peeped through the window. I saw a person being dragged by policemen to a police van which was parked in front of my gate …
On the following morning, we found a pool of blood near our gate. We then decided to go to Louis le Grange police station to report the matter and try to establish Mongezi’s whereabouts. We found Mongezi’s body in the police mortuary. He had been shot through the head. On the day of the funeral, a police helicopter flew over our house firing birdshot and throwing teargas canisters at the crowd of mourners. As a result thereof I could not go to the graveyard to lay my son to rest as I was unconscious from the affects of the teargas.

113 The next night, Mr Mtuthuzeli Michael Heshu [EC0305/96PLZ] was beaten and then shot dead by police in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. He was returning from a party with his girlfriend when police ordered him to have sex with her in the street in their presence. He refused and they got into a fight. The police dragged him into an alley and his girlfriend, Ms Liziwe Ndzimasi, fled. She heard three shots. The next day police informed Heshu’s father that his son had been killed by riot police “during an attack on police”. The body had a broken femur and three bullet holes. An inquest found the killing to be “justifiable homicide”.

According to police evidence, Heshu was shot during an attack on a school which police had been guarding17. The death of Heshu fuelled anger in the township and tension mounted until the funeral took place on 7 January 1978. At the funeral, the police fired on peaceful mourners.

114 On 15 March 1978, sixteen-year-old Makhwenkwe Madalane [EC0042/96ALB] was shot dead by police in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. They told the family he had tried to set fire to a bakery truck. Madalane was an activist who had earlier been forced to flee his home in Grahamstown due to police pressure. A post mortem was held but the family was not told the outcome.

115 Thirteen-year-old Xolani Kannetjie Stuurman [EC1551/97NWC] was shot dead in Cradock in November 1978. His sister, Ms Nontobeko Bernadette Vala, said he was shot near the shop where he worked after school:

People were shouting at the tops of their voices and others were crying hysterically. I then decided to go outside and investigate what was going on. Outside the yard in Kannemeyer Street next to the municipal building where the municipal police were staying, I observed that the SAP was chasing everybody who was in the street … people were saying that my brother had been shot. I then followed the people who led me to the shop. I saw Xolani lying in front of the shop on his back. He had a bullet wound in the forehead.

116 Clashes between police and scholars continued in Grahamstown in 1980. On 9 July, fifty-seven-year-old Ms Violet Tsili [EC0046/96ALB] was shot dead when she passed a crowd of 1 000 boycotting pupils who were being dispersed by police with dogs, batons and birdshot. Over 2 000 people attended her funeral on 19 July, during which police again used teargas and birdshot to break up the crowd. They shot a sixteen-year-old boy, Mr Boyboy Nombiba, in the stomach, killing him [EC0204/96ALB]. After Nombiba’s funeral on 26 July, police fired at a crowd of mourners who they said were attacking a Hippo (police armoured vehicle). Two men, Mr Tunu Nxawe (28) and Mr Blacky Freddie Tsili [EC0201/96ALB] were killed. Mr Bulwana Vaaltyn [EC0523/96ALB] was shot in the stomach and injured by police patrolling the township; he later instituted a successful claim against the police.

117 Back in Port Elizabeth, Mr Lulamile Henry Woji [EC0444/96PLZ] was shot dead while visiting a neighbour near his home one evening in November 1980. Woji’s aunt, Ms Nozibonele Mabel Woji, told the Commission:

It appears he was with two friends inside the yard at this house when a bus without lights came along. Someone was running towards the group in the yard and went past them running. The soldiers in the bus started shooting through the fence, hitting Lulamile Henry Woji in the chest. He fell and died immediately with three bullet wounds.

118 About two weeks later, scholar Mr Tefo Timothy Machesa [EC0560/96UIT] was shot dead during the school boycotts in Uitenhage. He was on his way to buy bread. His mother, Ms Malehlohonolo Lucy Machesa, told the Commission:

Later a friend, Tesco, informed me that he and Tefo and another friend saw a police van. As the police were shooting at random they decided to run and entered a nearby house. It is where Tefo was hit and police dragged his body outside and put stones in his pockets.

119 She said the family were told Machesa’s body had been kept overnight among prisoners to delay its discovery. An inquest found that police had acted in self-defence.

17 John Jackson (1980) pp 152–3
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