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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Name: Thabo Johannes Rahantlhane - Witness

14-05-1999: Day 10

Matter: Boipatong Massacre



MR BERGER: Chairperson, Ms Cambanis has asked me to apologise, she will be a few minutes late, she's had to just go out for a few minutes but she said we could start without her.

CHAIRPERSON: ...(inaudible)

MR STRYDOM: Chair, whilst we're on apologies my client Mr Shabangu, or Mr Tshabangu requested us, he has work commitments for the day, he is here but he would like to be excused.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I anticipate that we are likely to adjourn between 1 and half past 1, depending on what would be the appropriate stage round about that time.

Mr Rahantlane, may I remind you that you are still under oath?


CHAIRPERSON: It is Ms Pretorius, Advocate Pretorius? Yes?

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MS PRETORIUS: That is correct. I only have one question, I would like to know, you said you were scared of drive by shootings. Why were you scared of drive by shootings, that's why you dug the trenches?

MR RAHANTLANE: That is correct.

MS PRETORIUS: Why were you scared of drive-by shootings, by whom?

MR RAHANTLANE: That was the situation in Vaal in 1991/92, that was the situation in Vaal.

MS PRETORIUS: What was the situation, Mr Rhantlane?

MR RAHANTLANE: Advocate Pretorius, the first applicant stated that the people were shot at in Sebokeng would try to run away and in Everton, that small farm, so we realised that with the well maintained roads we were shot at randomly but if we dug trenches that would be difficult for drive by shootings to occur.

MS PRETORIUS: So there was war between the ANC and Inkatha in the Vaal Triangle at that time?

MR RAHANTLANE: I have no knowledge of the war between the ANC and the IFP.

MS PRETORIUS: But who were the people who were going to do the drive by shootings, do you know? Were they just ordinary gangs or did they belong to any political party?

MR RAHANTLANE: It may be so that they were members of a political organisation because Mr Nosenga was a member of a political party.

MS PRETORIUS: I'm speaking of your own knowledge?

MR RAHANTLANE: I have already answered you.

MS PRETORIUS: I have no further questions Mr Chairperson.


MS PRETORIUS: I am sorry Chair but I looked at my position last night and that is why I don't have - I can always look for questions if Mr Chair would like me to ask more? I'm sorry Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes very well.

LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE: I have no questions Mr Chairman.

MR STRYDOM: Thank you, I have no questions Mr Chairman.


MS TANZER: I have just one question.

CHAIRPERSON: You know it has just occurred to me that the proper sequence should be Mr Strydom, Advocate Lowies, Advocate Pretorius, Ms Tanzer and then Advocate Da Silva because you only appear for implicated persons. Yes indeed, alright. Ms Tanzer, in case I jump onto Advocate da Silva before coming to you, would you shout at me?

MS TANZER: I'm thick skinned, don't worry.


CROSS-EXAMINATION MS TANZER: You mention, Mr Rahantlane, that you heard via the grapevine that an attack would take place on Boipatong. Did you first hear those rumours on the 17th or were you alert to an imminent attack prior to the 17th?

MR RAHANTLANE: Prior to the 17th such things did take place, there were people who ran away to Sebokeng Hospital and those who went to sleep at the firms.

MS TANZER: No, what I'm asking is, the imminent attack on Boipatong, an attack that would take place against the whole location, against women, children, destroying of houses. Was that rumour something that was spread earlier than the 17th, was that something that was in the air at Boipatong or was that something you only learnt on the 17th?

MR RAHANTLANE: That is what I observed on the 17th.

MS TANZER: So you weren't more alert during the period before the 17th, to the fact that an attack might take place or were you as a patrol group?

MR RAHANTLANE: I said that on patrol you must always be on the alert meaning that I was already alert of an imminent attack.

MS TANZER: What was the relationship like between the dwellers of the Kwamadala Hostel and the residents of Boipatong that you were aware of in 1992, in May/June '92?

MR RAHANTLANE: Ms Tanzer, I'm not able to answer you, the residents of Kwamadala stayed there and I cannot foresee a stage where residents in Boipatong would leave for Kwamadala Hostel and vice versa.

MS TANZER: No further questions.



MR MEY: Thank you Mr Chairperson, I've got no questions.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes thank you. Mr Mapoma?

MR MAPOMA: Thank you Chairperson I've no questions.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Mr Sibanyoni?

MR SIBANYONI: Just one question Mr Chairperson.

Ms Tanzer was asking you about the rumours that there will be an attack on Boipatong and the question was when did you first hear those rumours?

MR RAHANTLANE: Firstly in 1991 when people left Sebokeng and went to sleep at Sebokeng Hospital and some left and slept at the Cape Gate. They left the location to sleep at Cape Gate.

MR SIBANYONI: And when did you people start patrolling the township?

MR RAHANTLANE: I started round about the month of June.

MR SIBANYONI: Were you patrolling with the same group of people or it was just different people coming in and going away?

MR RAHANTLANE: We did not work as a single group all the time, at times we mixed with others.

MR SIBANYONI: Thank you Mr Chairperson.

CHAIRPERSON: Advocate Sigodi?

ADV SIGODI: No questions Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Mr Malindi any re-examination?

RE-EXAMINATION BY MR MALINDI: Yes Chairperson, just a few questions.

Mr Rahantlane, immediately after this incident did you have to relate this incident to various people?

MR RAHANTLANE: May you please explain?

MR MALINDI: The incident of 17 June 1992, the attack which took place upon yourself and your girlfriend. Did you have to relate this incident to various people?

MR RAHANTLANE: Mr Malindi this to my team members because they were the first to hear that I was attacked and I related it to my relatives and friends.

MR MALINDI: And you have testified if I'm not mistaken that you went to the Goldstone Commission as well?

MR RAHANTLANE: That is correct, Mr Malindi.

MR MALINDI: And when you related this incident was it important for you to state or estimate exactly what time the incident took place?

MR RAHANTLANE: It was important, Mr Malindi, because that marked a history in my life.

MR MALINDI: And was it during that attempt of yours to examine when it happened that you related the incident to your listening to the news on radio?

MR RAHANTLANE: May you please repeat, Mr Malindi?

MR MALINDI: When you were trying to give an estimate of the time when this incident took place to all these people that you have mentioned, was it at that very stage immediately after the attack itself that you related the incident, the attack to your listening to the news at 22H00 on the night of 17th June?

MR RAHANTLANE: That is correct, Mr Malindi.

MR MALINDI: Thank you Chairperson, no further questions.


CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Rahantlane, you may stand down.


MR BERGER: Chairperson, we have a slight problem and that is why Ms Cambanis is not here. There are two witnesses that we had hoped to call next or one of two witnesses we had hoped to call next and neither of them arrived on the bus this morning so Ms Cambanis has just gone to Boipatong to see if she can locate them. Could we ask for a short adjournment? I will telephone Ms Cambanis just to establish what the position is?

CHAIRPERSON: If you are unable to locate those two witnesses are there other witnesses that you can continue with?

MR BERGER: We will then have to call another witness.


MR BERGER: But we will prefer to call one of the two because it follows particular sequence.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay, very well. Okay, we will take a short adjournment and would you let us know once you are ready?

MR BERGER: Thank you.



MS TANZER: Just for the record, Mr Nosenga has to leave early today, the witness protection officers say they've only got one van and they've got to be somewhere else, so if you don't mind I'm standing in for him obviously and he will be taken back to the prison now.

CHAIRPERSON: He shall be leaving earlier?

MS TANZER: He's leaving right now.

CHAIRPERSON: Already! Okay. Alright but as long as you make sure that you go through with him the evidence that's going to be lead in his absence so as to be able to deal with those matters that he might want you to deal with?

MS TANZER: Yes I'll do that.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes very well. Yes Mr Berger?

MR BERGER: Thank you Chairperson.

Chairperson, thank you for the adjournment. The next witness is Matseleng Miriam Molete. She will be giving evidence in Sesotho.




EXAMINATION BY BERGER: Thank you Chairperson.

Ms Molete, where were you staying at the time of the attack on the 17th June 1992?

MS M MOLETE: I stayed in Amatola Street, number 717. That day we left for my sister's house at number 17 Slovo Park. The very 17th day of June.

MR BERGER: So on the night of the attack you were at number 17 Slovo Park?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: And who was together with you that night?

MS M MOLETE: I was with my sister and her husband and my husband and my child.

MR BERGER: What was your sister's name?

MS M MOLETE: Do you mean all their names?

MR BERGER: Yes, your sister's name.

MS M MOLETE: The eldest is Mokgoedi Florence Molete. The other one is Jeanette Puleng Molete.

MR BERGER: No, I'm asking you only the sister who was with you that night.

MS M MOLETE: Before the attack we were together, they left and I was left with Florence.

MR BERGER: And Florence's husband?

MS M MOLETE: She did not have a husband at the time, it was Jeanette who was with her husband.

MR BERGER: And your child Mieta?


MR BERGER: Who is Pule Thomas Lekabe?

MS M MOLETE: That was my husband.

CHAIRPERSON: What was that name again?

MR BERGER: Pule Thomas Lekabe.

And he was with you that night at number 17 Slovo Park?

MS M MOLETE: It was myself, Florence, Pule and Mieta.

MR BERGER: Okay. Now can you recall when it was when you first heard something happening that gave you an indication that something might be wrong?

MS M MOLETE: Whilst we were sitting after they have left, my husband was from a doctor, he was asleep and Mieta was also asleep. I was left with Florence. Florence said she's tired, she wants to go and sleep.

ADV SIGODI: Could you speak slowly please?

MR BERGER: Slowly please?

MS M MOLETE: Whilst my husband was asleep and my child also I was left with Florence. Florence then stated that she wants to go and sleep. I said to her I want to take a bath. At that time I heard someone breaking windows. There's a hole there at my sister's place and we peeped through and I could see that they were breaking at Puleng's place. Those were men breaking.

MR BERGER: Ms Molete, sorry, you say we peeped through, who was it who peeped through?

MS M MOLETE: It was myself and I called Florence to come and see that people are attacking Jeanette, that is Puleng. Thereafter ...(intervention)

MR BERGER: I'm sorry, when you say you could see people were attacking Jeanette, your sister?

MS M MOLETE: They are neighbours and their houses are separated by a fence. Whilst we were looking outside we saw people. They wore red headbands and others white headbands. Whilst we were observing this they immediately started breaking the house in which we were in. From there they were at the window, breaking the window of the bedroom I was in. They peeped through the window, these men, and they were speaking in isiZulu and they said take out your firearms and I said to them we do not have firearms. They broke down the left side of Florence's shack. Others were throwing in stones until they smashed the wardrobe's door. When they entered, some entered through the side where they had broken down the shack. From there they hacked my husband at the waist, thereafter there was blood all over the house. Because we had just arrived, everything was upside down, we could not get anywhere. They took him out through that opening. The others entered, those were the ones who broke down the door. They attacked Florence. When I tried to assist or help my daughter, Mieta, trying to whisk her into another room because I thought they would smash her head with stones.

Then I came across a White man. This man tried to hack me with a panga. I tried to grab it, that is when he cut this finger I'm showing to you. When I tried to turn then he hacked my daughter on the head. Then there was brain that I could see. I tried again to turn then he stabbed me with a sharpened instrument on my right side eye with a sharpened instrument. Then I turned and threw myself down on my knees. I spoke in Zulu even though I'm not au fait with Zulu, I said that this is my life day ...(indistinct). Thereafter, this man was a White man, he wore balaclavas, he was next to me.

MR BERGER: If I could just stop you for a moment? I'm not sure if part of your evidence was correctly interpreted. You said - it was interpreted that you said he struck you on your right eye but you were pointing to your breast. Where were you struck?

MS M MOLETE: It was this eye, the wound was not that big but when I was a hospital it was the eye that gave me much problems.

MR BERGER: Were you wounded in your breast?

MS M MOLETE: Not that much, it was just a minor injury because it was a sharpened instrument that stabbed me. I suffered a lot of pain whilst at hospital.

MR BERGER: Okay, let's go back to this White man who attacked you. You say that he was wearing a balaclava, what else was he wearing if you can remember?

MS M MOLETE: Do you mean the hands? He was all black.

MR BERGER: Anything you can remember. Sorry?

MS M MOLETE: Okay. To can identify that he was a White person, the area of the eyes was not covered and his nose protruded through the balaclava. They broke down the door. The house was ...(indistinct) and there was moonlight and I was very close to him like where the table is, I was here while seated because I was holding the child at that time.

MR BERGER: Besides the balaclava, can you remember what else he was wearing, a shirt or pants?

MS M MOLETE: He wore black clothing, those were outside except them, the White man, except them. He wore a balaclava and black clothing and the area around the eyes was not covered and the nose protruded through the balaclava. Those who were at the door, seemingly they were on alert for anybody who would run out of the house. They were in camouflage, there were two of them with guns. I saw them as I threw myself down. There was blood all over and it was slippery. What I said it is my last day. Then they got out and chanted a slogan, " Usotho, Usotho".

MR BERGER: The two men who you say were wearing camouflage, was that some sort of a uniform that they had on?

MS M MOLETE: These overalls with multiple colours and they wore caps. Their faces were not concealed. They were White men.

MR BERGER: And what weapons did they have?

MS M MOLETE: I do not know different types of guns, they had guns.

MR BERGER: You were continuing and I stopped you, please continue?

MS M MOLETE: Thereafter I started crying for help, then I came across a double bed sheet because I have learned first aid, I covered my child's head and I wrapped the head so that the brain would not get much air. Then I went around that house in Slovo Park because I was not familiar with the surroundings. I tried to get help and find my husband, I was shouting out loud "Pule, Pule, come and help me." There was no response.

Thereafter, I took my child and went to my sister's and my sister's husband said ...(inaudible). I tried to go to next door where my sister stayed and they said we must rush to Madiki, the dumping place, for them to get us an ambulance. When we reached Makiki there were many of us from Slovo Park. Whilst waiting there we started asking ourselves questions, we were women, one asking the other where her husband is and the children were not all there, where were they? I stated to them that I do not know people in this area and I do not know where my husband is.

MR BERGER: Where was your sister Florence?

MS M MOLETE: They had run away. At that time we did not know where they were.

MR BERGER: Now when you left the shack, had the attackers already left?

MS M MOLETE: After they had shouted Usotho, Usotho - oh, I forgot one aspect, as I went out looking for Pule, I saw them at a distance in the direction of Bakweni because it was just straight along our street, it was a group of men. They were followed by a Koyoko, at the back there was a Koyoko. In my mind I had thought those were police who tried to arrest them. Where I'm seated this was where the Koyoko was, towards the man in front of me. Those were people walking along.

MR BERGER: The man you're pointing to is Mr da Silva?

MS M MOLETE: Where they are seated.

MR BERGER: That is where you saw the Koyoko?

MS M MOLETE: The Koyoko was where I'm seated and it was following these people slowly.

MR BERGER: So where you are seated is where the Koyoko was and where Mr da Silva is seated is where the people were who the Koyoko was following?

MS M MOLETE: It was driving slowly and they were upfront, in front of this Koyoko, walking along.

CHAIRPERSON: Well that distance was estimated to what?

MR BERGER: I think it's seven paces.

CHAIRPERSON: Seven paces, yes.

MR BERGER: And you say that the Koyoko and the people were moving along Bakwene Street?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: In what direction?

MS M MOLETE: In the direction of the firms ...(inaudible)

MR LAX: Sorry, we're not getting the translation.

MS M MOLETE: At that time there was this Ecro firm next to Cape Gate firm and they were leaving in that direction.

MR BERGER: How many Koyokos did you see?

MS M MOLETE: I saw that one only.

MR BERGER: And did you see what colour it was?

MS M MOLETE: The colour was yellow.

MR BERGER: Where were you in relation to the Koyoko?

MS M MOLETE: I was situated behind the shack looking for my husband, behind my sister's shack, looking for my husband.

MR BERGER: How far would you say that you were from the Koyoko, can you estimate that?

MS M MOLETE: At that door inscribed 8.

MR BERGER: From there to?

MS M MOLETE: And I was situated behind the ladies there.

MR BERGER: There's only one lady.

MR LAX: She's referring to the toilet I'm assuming. There's a ladies toilet behind us here.

MS M MOLETE: Just behind the two ladies here.

MR BERGER: I'm sorry, where do you see two ladies?

MS M MOLETE: I'm saying behind the lady and the gentleman behind her, behind Advocate Sigodi.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay well shall we say probably from this black curtain all the way to the door, is that right?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: Mr da Silva has done most of the measuring, it's 26 paces?


LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE: Ja, I would estimate 30, I didn't do that measurement, Mr da Silva did, I think he said 26.

MR DA SILVA: Mr Chairman, it's 25 from the door to the edge of the stage so it's this extra bit that must be added, so it's 30 to 35.


MR BERGER: And that was before you went away from Slovo Park?

MS M MOLETE: When I went to outside in the veld when I left Slovo because this Koyoko, I saw it when I was looking for my husband behind the shack.

MR BERGER: What was the lighting like at that time?

MS M MOLETE: There was a great light because we had a moonlight and the pole light and the other one flowing in the next street. Where we were situated there was much light and with the assistance of the moonlight there was greater light.

MR BERGER: You said that the Koyoko was travelling slowly behind this group of people?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: How big would you estimate this group of people to be?

MS M MOLETE: They were many walking hastily, the Koyoko had it's lights on and you could see many people walking along.

MR BERGER: You husband was killed that night, is that correct?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: And he was also shot, am I right?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: You never witnessed his being shot, is that correct?

MS M MOLETE: I did not witness that but I heard when they told me that this man that you are looking for, seemingly he is the one you are looking for, he was wearing striped underwear and the guys who came in an ambulance to get the people told us that he has passed away. I went to the hospital knowing that he has passed away.

MR BERGER: When Pule was attacked, is it your evidence that he was already sleeping in bed?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: He was asleep and all that he was wearing was striped underpants. Is that what you said?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: Had he been involved in any political activity?


MR BERGER: Had he belonged to any political organisation?


MR BERGER: Did you belong to any political organisation or any member of your family belong to any political organisation?


MR BERGER: At the time of the attack Mieta was three years old, is that right?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: And she is the little girl that we saw at hearings before who is confined to a wheelchair?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: Did the White man who attacked you or the two who were at the door in camouflage, did any of them say anything that you heard?

MS M MOLETE: I saw that it was a White person and I tried to talk to this person but I held my breath because of being afraid that he would notice that I was still alive. Those who were at the door I do not know what they were doing with Florence because she tried to get out. I was still faced with this White person. When I threw myself down on my knees, I saw them.

MR BERGER: But you never heard them say anything?


MR BERGER: Did you manage to get Mieta to hospital that night?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: And both you and Mieta were then admitted to hospital, is that correct?

MS M MOLETE: That is correct.

MR BERGER: Besides your husband, yourself and Mieta, were any other members of your family injured or killed during the attack?

MS M MOLETE: It was only Florence, she was assaulted and injured, she's the one who'd speak on her behalf.

MR BERGER: Thank you Ms Molete, I have no further questions.


CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you. The time now about is five to 11. Shall we take the adjournment now and then come back at 11.30 and then we will start with Mr Strydom? Thank you.



CHAIRPERSON: Ms Molete, there are other persons whose relatives were either killed or injured or have had their properties either damaged or stolen, who are in the same position as you are, who made statements to the police and to other persons. It is necessary that those statements be studied by the legal representatives who are appearing on behalf of the applicants so that they have the opportunity, so that they can prepare for putting questions to you and the others who will be giving evidence. As a result of that fact, it is therefore necessary that we adjourn these proceedings at this stage to enable those statements to be made available to the legal representatives of the applicants as well as the persons who will be called to give evidence next week. We cannot finish with your evidence therefore today. Do you understand that?

MS M MOLETE: Yes I do.

CHAIRPERSON: You'll have to come back on Monday.

MS M MOLETE: Yes I do understand.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you. Okay, it has occurred to me that because from time to time statements are being handed in, statements made to the police are being handed in whether once you've put together those statements of the persons that will be indicated to you as being witnesses to be called next week, if you could put together a bundle of those statements paginated with the number indicating the various statements in it so that you can simply place before us that bundle of documents so that we don't have to have the statements scattered all over the place. Could you do that?

MR BERGER: Chairperson, perhaps it will be appropriate at this stage for me to place on record the names of the people that we intend calling? I can't say that it will be in this particular order but after Ms Molete we intend calling and this is in reference to a letter that we sent dated the 13th January 1999 to the TRC. I assume my learned friends got copies of that letter from the TRC? They did, I see they're acknowledging that, there were 24 names there and the 13 names that we intend to call are Mishak Jabulani Ramokonopi, that's number 4.

CHAIRPERSON: Do we have a copy of that letter? No we don't, okay.

MR BERGER: I'll just read the name out, it's Mishak Jabulani Ramokonopi. R-A-M-O-K-O-N-O-P-I. He was number 4 on the list.

Hilda Monokoane, M-O-N-O-K-O-A-N-E, that's number 21 on the list.

Elsie Nomuhle Buwa - Buwa, on the list at number 5 was John Buwa but it should rather be Mrs Buwa and she's one of the names that we mentioned yesterday or before, some time before.

Florina Dlamini, she was number 8 on the list.

Emilie Mashaneni, she was number 12 on the list.

Johannes Mbata, number 13 on the list.

Klaas Matopi, number 15 on the list.

Simon Moloi, number 16 on the list.

Rebecca Motuang, number 17 on the list.

Florence Molete, number 19 on the list.

Anna Mbata, number 20 on the list.

Diana Maneka, number 22 on the list.

I'm told I've exceeded the number. Well I've only got one name and that is Mashudu Mashope. Number 23 was Maria Mashope but it should be Mashudu Mashope.

With the two witnesses who have already testified and Ms Molete, that's a total of 16.


MR BERGER: Thank you Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes thank you.

MR DA SILVA: Mr Chairperson I just want to clarify one aspect. Originally when my learned friends made this list available, I was under the impression that there might be witnesses called other, over and above the 24 witnesses. Is it my learned friend's - the reading of these 16 witnesses, are they only calling these 16 witnesses, nobody else?

MR BERGER: Nobody else. That doesn't mean that we won't ask for the Committee to call certain witnesses but from the victims' side, nobody else.

CHAIRPERSON: Perhaps you should put it this way, as matters stands now.

MR BERGER: Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes because you may be instructed otherwise.

MR BERGER: Chairperson, perhaps I should not be that criptic. You will see from Exhibit FF I think it was, the interview between Riaan Malan and Pedro Peens, we will be asking because we believe that Mr Peens' evidence is so crucial to such a crucial issue in these proceedings, we will be asking that he be called to give evidence, he is under subpoena and that is what I was referring to.

CHAIRPERSON: Alright, you've got the undertaking.

MR DA SILVA: Thank you Mr Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes okay. Is there any other matter that counsel wishes to place on record? Alright.

I should also indicate at this stage in view of the number of witnesses that we still have to go through, it may be necessary or it will be necessary next week to sit somewhat longer hours in order to make sure that we catch up with time that may have been lost in the past.

Okay, very well, we will adjourn now until Monday at 10 o'clock.


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