Dead Boer Walking: Whites Have Rights Too
11 June 2013 Leave a comment
The unsolved murder by ANC-terrorists of unarmed Farmer Van der Merwe, Buffelsdrift, Potchefstroom, Nov 1, 1978
How ‘fictional’ is the character of Susan van der Merwe in the book“Dead Boer Walking” by author Renate Ackerman?
Thirty-five years ago, on Nov 1 1978, Farmer van der Merwe was kidnapped near the Botswana/South Africa border post of Buffelsdrift, Potchefstroom.
- His widow Susan van der Merwe testified about the trauma suffered by her entire family at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in September 1996, describing how an unnamed security police source had pointed out the place where ‘MK-cadres’ who had kidnapped him, had killed her husband. His body was never found. And despite all the ‘truth and reconciliation’ revelations, the names of his MK-murderers remain a secret to this day… Why is that?
Who kidnapped and killed her farmer-husband near Buffelsdrift, Potchefstroom on Nov 1 1978?
Writes Renate Ackerman in her book ” Dead Boer Walking : ” ‘Nobody was more hated amongst black terrorist groups (the ‘Boerwatch’ unit) in South Africa than Susan Van Der Merwe. Her investigations into black-racist attacks on whites made her few friends and powerful enemies. In this extraordinary story and first hand account she explains how blacks threatened to kill her if she did not stop her enquires into racist attacks on Boers, how they threatened to kill her friends and family when she refused to be intimidated, and how she ended up the number one target on a black terrorist hit list called Boerwatch. Her most terrifying moment came when she was shot and left for dead outside President Mandela’s house. This is the tale of one woman’s determination to stand up to racism and ethnic cleansing against her community and uphold the conservative values she believes.
TiaMySoa writes on his blog: This (may be) the same Susan van der Merwe whose husband (a farmer, first name not mentioned) went missing at Buffelsdrift, at the border post between South Africa and Botswana on 1 November 1978. “It was later established, (but only) in 1982, that her husband was murdered by ( *still unknown )MK cadres. Evidence came to light that Farmer van der Merwe (who spoke Tswana fluently) had stopped to pick up a large group of black men walking along the road to Thabazimbi. Once in the car, they pulled out guns and forced the farmer to drive in the opposite direction. They then walked Mr. Van der Merwe out into the bush and executed him, and drove his car to the border. One MK cadre (identified only as Witness X) later led police to the scene, but the body was never found. More details about this incident can be viewed in her testimony and on the website of The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) http://tia-mysoa.blogspot.nl/2011/09/dead-boer-walking.html Renate Ackerman: Picture: http://www.volkstaat.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1136:book-dead-boer-walking-by-renate-ackerman&catid=56:latest&Itemid=82
Susan Van der Merwe’s testimony before the Truth and reconciliation was cited at the Traumatic Stress in South Africa conference in January 1999:
Paper presented by authors: HamberB & RWilson (1999): “Symbolic Closure Through Memory, Reparation and Revenge in Post-conflict Societies,: a paper presented at the “Traumatic Stress in South Africa Conference”, hosted by the “Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation” and the “African Society for Traumatic Stress Studies,” Johannesburg, South Africa, 27-29 January 1999:
- How important is it for the family of murder-victims whose bodies were never found, to find out the truth?
- These authors wrote in their paper at the Traumatic Stress in South Africa conference in January 1999′: “How does testifying at hearings relate to feelings of the uncanny and liminality?S peaking at public hearings like those of the SA Truth and Reconciliation Commission can break an enforced silence. (It can) represent a point of closure and transition in the grieving process through interacting with the national symbolic process of the TRC. The widow (…) leaves behind her grieving phase, shedding the symbols of her liminality. In its reparations policy (which may include personal monetary reparation and symbolic forms like tombstones or monuments), the TRC creates (d) possibilities for the internalisation of loss and Freud’s work of mourning (trauerarbeit) that does not exist through legal channels. Without a corpse or a conviction it was often not possible to get compensation legally, but through the TRC it was much easier to obtain a finding (recognition of loss or suffering) and to obtain reparations (symbolic compensation for the loss).”
Did Susan van der Merwe ‘find closure’ at the TRC? It seems not: she never was able to bury her murdered husband’s body…
“One case which demonstrates a survivor’s experience of uncertainty and her quest to resolve liminality through legal and TRC channels is that of Susan van der Merwe of Potchefstroom, a teacher and mother of five (traumatised) children. (Testimony at http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/hrvtrans/klerks/merwe.htm) – ‘Susan van der Merwe was married to an Afrikaner farmer who went missing at Buffelsdrift, at the border post between South Africa and Botswana on 1 November 1978. Susan van der Merwe reported at the TRC hearings in Klerksdorp in September 1996 the same kinds of deep uncertainty (as documented by Suarez for victims in Argentina:” ‘my whole life was then an uncertainty … and this uncertainty hung over us like a dark cloud. It left such an immense, indescribable feeling of a vacuum that you cannot explain it to anyone else. One’s life, your whole life is incomplete’.The uncertainty surrounding her husband’s disappearance was worse than knowing that he was dead and placed the family in a liminal state. “The two children at university were ‘deeply disturbed’ and failed their term exams. “This state of liminality was material and financial, as well as psychological.
- “Susan van der Merwe had no official evidence of her husband’s death (and) she could not conduct financial transactions and she was not able to secure loans to buy a house or pay for her childrens’ university costs.
” At the beginning of 1979, the two children wanted to go and reregister at the university but the bank manager informed me that I did not have any security. The circumstances were that I was completely dependent on my husband. He ran on the financial matters … . It never occurred to me that because of the way in which my husband had died, that if there were any funds available from him, that it would have been taken away from me because we were not married in community of property. Prior to the TRC the case was investigated by the South African security police. Four years later, in 1982, the Supreme Court established the events around the farmer’s disappearance. “Through the evidence of a police informer ‘Mr. X’, the court heard how four umkhonto we sizwe (MK, Spear of the Nation, the ‘military wing’ of the communist ANC), thirty of their ‘combatants’ had been walking along the road to Thabazimbi, when Mr van der Merwe stopped and offered them a lift to the next town. “Once in the car, the MK “cadres” pulled out guns and forced the farmer to drive in the opposite direction and they used his car to transport goods. They then walked (the unarmed) Mr. Van der Merwe out into the bush and executed him, and drove his car to the border. “One MK ‘cadre’ led police to the scene, but the body was never found. For the family of the farmer, the court case resolved only some of their questions:
- She testified: “After these findings, the Supreme court certified my husband as dead, and this left my children in another vacuum of uncertainty. Why was such a horrendous deed done to my husband which cost him his life? For what purpose, what were they hoping to achieve by that?’
Susan van der Merwe never got the answers to those questions from her husbands’ killers, yet, despite opposition from her conservative white community on the West Rand, she explicitly stated that speaking in public in itself was important to her. She needed to present her story and wrestle with its inconsistencies publicly and also to affirm her renunciation of a past of racialised violence.” (That was the propaganda anyway). http://www.csvr.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1716%3Asymbolic-closure-through-memory-reparation-and-revenge-in-post-conflict-societies&Itemid=2
Susan van der Merwe, Testimony at the TRC hearings, Klerksdorp, 23 September 1996. TRC human rights violations submissions: questions and answers
23.09.1996 Name of witness: Susan J van der Merwe Case number: 01539 Klerksdorp:
DR RANDERA: While Mrs Van der Merwe is taking her place, I would like to welcome a few other people. We have Senator Rasmani who is sitting next to the Premier – if you will just stand, Sir. Councillor Henry Moleme from Klerksdorp – has he gone out already? Okay. Sandra Mahamba, the chairperson of the Joubertin CPF, Father August Lekhoko, Anglican Church, Kuma. Then we have a number of councillors from Stilfontein, Klerksdorp and Orkney, Joyce Matshayana, Mr Mojobe and Tosa Molempukana. Thank you. We have Father Goleng from Stilfontein, the Anglican Church and Daniel Molema, the deputy-secretary of the ANC. Thank you very much. Mrs Van der Merwe, good morning to you.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Good morning.
DR RANDERA: You had a friend accompanying you, are you sure you don’t want him to be there with you on the stage?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: That is not necessary, thank you very much.
DR RANDERA: Thank you. Mrs Van der Merwe, you have come here today to talk about your husband. Adv Denzil Potgieter who is sitting there at the table next to you, is going to be helping you as you tell your story.
But before you do that, will you please stand to take the oath.
SUSAN J VAN DER MERWE: (Duly sworn, states).
DR RANDERA: Thank you, Mrs Van der Merwe, I hand over to Commissioner Potgieter.
ADV POTGIETER: Thank you, Dr Randera. Good morning, ma’am. Welcome here. I would like you to relax and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The evidence which you will be giving is about the disappearance of your husband, Mr Van der Merwe in 1978. Is that correct?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes.
ADV POTGIETER: Just before you tell us about the disappearance itself, maybe I could put a few questions to you, just to get an idea of your personal circumstances. You are currently living in Potchefstroom, is that correct?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, at the moment I live in Potchefstroom.
ADV POTGIETER: I wonder if you cannot move the microphone a bit closer to you, to enable us to hear, because we can’t all hear you very well if you don’t speak into the microphone.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Is that better?
ADV POTGIETER: Yes, that is a bit better, thank you. We were saying that you are currently residing in Potchefstroom. Is that correct?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes.
ADV POTGIETER: But in 1978 at the time when your husband disappeared, you were living in the Thabazimbi region.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, we lived in that region. The regions are so close to each other, because I was teaching at Swartklip.
ADV POTGIETER: And what was your husband doing?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: At the time we were living in Swartklip.
I have got it all written down in my statement.
ADV POTGIETER: Yes, but I would like you to repeat it in your evidence so that we can hear about the background and so that the audience can hear your evidence and your story. Once again, you will attempt to speak into the microphone. Come as close to the microphone as possible.
You have five children from your marriage to Mr Van der Merwe. Is that correct?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, that is right.
ADV POTGIETER: Are they all over the age of minority?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: The eldest was 21, my son was 21, my daughter was 19, we had a son of 17, a son of 16 and the youngest was 11 at the time.
ADV POTGIETER: We are talking about an incident that happened approximately 18 years ago.
So at the moment they are all adults.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: I beg your pardon?
ADV POTGIETER: You say at the moment they are all adults.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, they are all adults.
ADV POTGIETER: And are they self-sufficient?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, they are independent.
ADV POTGIETER: In 1978, you said that the eldest child was 21 and your second eldest daughter was 19 years old. They were at university at the time.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, they were at the university at the time.
ADV POTGIETER: And have they completed their studies since?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: My daughter could not complete her studies, the boy, my son was working in the evenings and he was a full-time student, but he used to do part-time work at restaurants and wherever else he could find employment, but my daughter could not and the other children, the youngest one was at primary school and the two others were i high school, but the third child could not proceed with the normal life before they found out what happened to their father. He just couldn’t live a normal life.
ADV POTGIETER: Just to go back to the incident itself. On the 1st of November of 1978, that morning was the last occasion on which you actually saw your husband, Mr Van der Merwe.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, that’s right.
ADV POTGIETER: Could you just tell us about the happenings of that morning of the 1st of November 1978?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Do you mind if I read it, please?
ADV POTGIETER: Certainly.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Is that better, can they hear me clearly? On the 1st of November 1978 and the works thereafter, on the 1st of November I saw my husband for the last time. We had breakfast together at the house where we living at the house in Swartklip. At approximately seven o’clock the morning I left home to the school where I was teaching. My husband would have gone to the farm called Doringlaagte that day, a farm which belonged to his mother, because he intended to shoot a goat for us. That farm is approximately 60 kilometres from our home. I was never to see him again.
That same afternoon I received a report that my husband’s mother had suddenly passed away. I immediately tried to make arrangements to trace my husband to inform him about the report about his mother’s death.
A neighbour at Doringlaagte, Mr Jan Smit, found my (then alive) husband at Doringlaagte and informed him. I was not worried when he did not return home on the evening of the 1st of November, because I assumed that he had gone to his sister’s house where his mother was staying, to make the funeral arrangements. It was only five days later that my husband’s car was found near the border at Buffelsdrift. At the time of the anxiety, there was an even bigger sad news waiting about my husband. What had happened to my husband? And this uncertainty hung over us like a dark cloud. Excuse me.
I had to compose myself as quickly as possible so that I could support my children. What happened to me and my children since the 1st of November; the uncertainty and the worry about my husband’s disappearance was to get worse in the months that followed. There were three possibilities. His disappearance could have been due to a sudden loss of memory or kidnapping or his killing. Thereafter we placed our hopes on the fact that he could possibly have been found alive.
At this stage my children were as old as I had indicated earlier. All of a sudden I was alone and I was responsible for their maintenance. There were no funds, except for my monthly salary which was approximately R600,00 per month. We were expected to survive on that. Two children were at university and three were at school and I had to keep myself together in order to give my children emotional support in a world which had suddenly crushed and fallen apart around them due to the death of their father.
My two eldest children failed their November exams at the Potchefstroom University. The university had understood the position in such a way that they allowed the childrento write supplementary exams. At the beginning of 1979 the two children wanted to go and reregister at the university, but the bank manager informed me that I did not have any security. The circumstances were such that I was completely dependent on my husband. He was the one that was running all the financial matters and from November to January circumstances were such at my house that I did not even think about money. It was a question of trying to survive on a daily basis, from day to day. It never occurred to me that because of the way in which my husband had died, that if there were any funds available from him, that it would have been taken away from me because we were not married in community of property.
The bank manager informed me that I did not have any security and thus I would not have any funds to enable my children to reregister at the university. With the greatest of difficulty and worry, I managed with the assistance of the children to get them to complete their studies, but they could not all do that. I had to remind myself constantly that I should not let my emotions affect my children, and at the same time I had do everything in my power to answer the questions that were running through my mind and try and fill the vacuum that had been left by the disappearance of their father.
This uncertainty and the utter feeling of helplessness that was caused by the disappearance of my husband, was probably worse than receiving news of his death one time. If I could put it this way, it would have been better for me just to hear that he had an accident with a gun or he had a car accident. It would have been better for me to digest the news, but the fact that there was no body even to bury, led to the fact that there was no official evidence of his death. This led to me not being able to conduct financial transactions such as buying a house. The Transvaal education department which I was working for and the financial institutions did not regard me as a breadwinner as such. My whole life was then an uncertainty.
The South African Police’s findings of what happened after the 1st of November 1978 in the Supreme Court of South Africa, were that due to he – was due to that, that the investigations had revealed that four Freedom fighters had gone to the region of Thabazimbi in November 1978 and their instruction was to make contact with the farmers there and also identify places where there were possible bases that could be used to their advantage.
An interview with a leading figure with regard to the infiltration figures to Botswana, in the report, someone known as Mr X revealed the following. ‘The four Freedom fighters went to stop next to the road and were hiking when a White man in his car appeared on the scene. He stopped for them and they got in the car and they forced him at gun point to go back in the opposite direction from which he had come from and go and load some things.
Thereafter they led him into the bushes, whereafter two of them who were known in the MK unit as Pedro and John Msibe, shot him from behind. Thereafter Pedro turned the White man around who had fallen on his face, turned him around and shot him in his forehead. After these findings the Supreme Court certified my husband as dead, left my children in another vacuum of uncertainty. Why was such a horrendous deed done to my husband, which cost him his life. KLERKSDORP HEARING TRC/GAUTENG
For what purpose, what were they hoping to achieve by that? Mr Chairperson and honourable members of the Truth Commission, you have heard so many stories of horrible deeds. Stories of people who have hurt others without batting an eyelid. You have gone into the hearts and minds of people whose wounds have shattered their lives.
My story and that of my children is but a minor story in comparison with these others for whom we feel sympathy. Our pain is but a mere drop in the ocean of South Africa’s suffering. Even if we do not want to use this opportunity to highlight our problems, and looking for sympathy, that is not what we want to do. In doing this we have done that in all the years. That is why I sat and thought about it for a long time before I came to you.
My story is the story about a woman with five children, whose husband was a peace-loving citizen, who, wherever he lived or worked, was also respected by the Blacks in those communities. A man who was killed unnecessarily in a cowardly and cruel manner, while he was helping his murderers. They abused the best of humanity.
I would like to add to this, that my husband had the trust of the local community. He was fluent in Tswana, he was known all over as someone with a big heart, who would not leave a stone unturned in a quest to assist other people. This way he would take Blacks to the hospital if they needed it and some other times he would take his family’s food and medication and dish it out where it was necessary.
Now I would like to say to you, that the years that we were living in Botswana, were years of extreme drought. The same as our people are suffering today. People used to come to us, come walking to us. I can remember one particular incident where a father had come, had walked for days with his little daughter until they got to us. The man told my husband that this was his only surviving child and that this child had also taken ill and that he was now looking for help. My husband took all the medicines that the doctors had given to us, because we were living in such a remote area, he took all those medicines and used them to help get that child healthy again. We kept the father and child there until the child was completely recovered.
At another time an entire family turned up on our doorstep, where they were on the road for days, because where they had come from there was no food any longer. Their crops had all failed and they had come to ask my husband for work. My husband showed them that there is nothing on this farm, but at the same time there were extreme problems and the crops were destroyed due to the drought, but in spite of all that, it was a family of seven, and he took that entire family and kept them on the farm. There was no work for them, but he told them that he was keeping them on the farm and that they could eat with us. They would share what we had with us every day and that was the man, that was the man I married, that was my husband.
The Tswanas in the region gave him the nickname RasiTswana, that means father of the Tswanas. Ironically enough, it was his (my husband’s fatherly demeanour ) fatherliness that led to his death.
My story wants to put this question to you. Would these people that were responsible for the deed, now that the liberation struggle has been completed, be able to answer us what was achieved by this, who benefited from this, what purpose did it all serve? From a military strategic point of view or from the viewpoint of the struggle, if these questions could contribute to answering the questions of the senselessness of what took place and this one deed in isolation could highlight the folly of what took place then, then this story has a humble contribution to bringing our country to where it is today, and will have made a contribution to the liberation.
If we could learn from this that violence does not provide any answers, and that each and every person that commits violence with a revolver in his hand, could start all over again and just think about the consequences of what a single shot could do.
My submission to you is not a prosecution, Mr Chairperson. I have no need to have anyone prosecuted. My submission is a plea for reason. If your Commission could be put in the state to put our country under the impression of the folly of the violence of the past, then every bit of evidence that could contribute to that, should be submitted to you. If you could find the faults of the system, then it is good, but if you can show that violence is primarily a waste and that it has no part in a system, that would be even better, because we in this country have to show that each and every person has to accept responsibility.
A system cannot be used as an excuse for violence. How else are we supposed to, if we are not to take responsibility for our own deeds, going to take responsibility for others. The Tswanas have an idiom which I learnt from my husband which goes “a person is a person by other people, a person is only a person with other people”. We do have this duty to each other. The survival of our
people in this country depends on our co-operation with each other.My plea to you is, help people to throw their weapons away. Ask the State to do this by implementing effective rules, an efficient police force and an efficient judicial service, because no person’s life is a waste. Every person’s life is far too precious.
My story, Mr Chairperson and Commissioners is but a story of a woman who could not bury her husband because there was no corpse. Thank you very much for having listened to me.
ADV POTGIETER: We would like to say thank you very much to you, Mrs Van der Merwe. We appreciate you having come to share your story with us. I would like to put one or two questions to you.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Certainly.
ADV POTGIETER: It seems as if the actual pain in your experience was the fact that you never really got the remains of your husband, in order for you to bury him.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: That is correct. That left such an immense, indescribable feeling of a vacuum and you cannot explain it to anybody else. One’s one life, your whole life is incomplete.
ADV POTGIETER: It is now approximately 18 years after his disappearance, have you accepted now at this stage, that your husband is indeed dead as it became apparent from the investigation of the police as submitted to the Supreme Court?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, that is correct. The evidence which came to light was sufficient to convince us that he had lost his life and that he was gone.
ADV POTGIETER: Have you reconciled with that and do you accept today that he is dead?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, I have accepted it, but I would love to receive any of his remains, just to be able to say I have buried him.
ADV POTGIETER: What was the statement made by the police with regards to the fact that they could not find his remains in the area where the MK cadre had shown them where they had shot this person?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: This Mr X, I know some of the people’s names today, but this Mr X who was the leader said they did not explain to him precisely where they had left his body, but that they said to him that they left his body where they had shot him. If you know that region or if you know anything about that region, then you will realise that if a person walks in those bushes, you could probably pass a corpse like that approximately two feet from there, because that is how dense that bush is. In spite of the police having looked in that region, they went to the farm Doringlaagte and they fine-combed the area but the people, the employees on the farm who were in the farm, said that that night, the Wednesday evening, it was late afternoon. He had left the farm after he had received the message of his mother’s death and they heard his car from camp to camp as he would stop, they would hear the car stopping and starting up again and leaving. So he left the farm, but evidence which surfaced later, showed that he used the Rooibokkraal road and this is where he stopped for these people. It was something natural for him to do. If somebody had to ask him why he stopped, then I would be able to say that it was habit, it was habit for him. We were living in
such a place that the place where we lived was far from Thabazimbi and he would have assumed that the people were on their way to Thabazimbi, and that is why he would have stopped for them, to grant them the opportunity, a lift, to get them a lift to Thabazimbi. That is what he would have done.
ADV POTGIETER: You spoke about what things were like there. What about wild animals with regards to his remains.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Could you please repeat the question?
ADV POTGIETER: What is the situation with regard to wild animals in that region?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: There are many wild animals.
ADV POTGIETER: And what would happen to the remains that get left in the veld?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: It is improbable that a corpse like that would remain there, so that there is quite a good chance that the wild animals would then eat the remains, yes.
ADV POTGIETER: How old was your husband when he disappeared?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: He was 57 years old.
ADV POTGIETER: And was he politically active or militarily inclined?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: No, not at all. One of the things that surfaced in the matter was that he did not take part in politics at all. We lived in Botswana for years and even when we came back to the Republic he did not participate in any political activity. He was merely a farmer.
ADV POTGIETER: And just one last question. What happened to the … (farm?)
He was a vegetable farmer here and he was not happy with it, because livestock farming was part of his life.
“He grew up with livestock farming and he wanted to go back to Botswana to go and do livestock farming once again, and that is why he sold the farm. He always spoke about specifically about the farm which we had in Botswana. He used to speak about God’s own country, because this land was so unscathed and he was somebody that loved the open veld, and that he would always say that for him it is the most wonderful thing to farm with livestock, because that is God’s own country.
ADV POTGIETER: And the fact of the whole matter is that the disappearance of your husband left you in financial difficulty? It left you financially stranded, even though were earning a salary as a teacher.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, my salary at that stage – I taught merely to earn extra income, because we could not maintain our family on that, so it was merely to help.
ADV POTGIETER: Just lastly, psychologically speaking, what is the position with your children, were there any psychological scars that have been left in their lives or have they reconciled with the fact that your husband has disappeared in the probable circumstances as you have sketched here?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: I would say that some of my children reconciled well with the fact but others were not able to work through this whole thing. A lot of them are independent people, as I said, some of them were extremely affected, deeply disturbed by the whole thing. So much so that some of them could not even complete their studies, some of them could. As I said, although today you can still that there are emotional scars with some of them, but some of them have managed the whole thing a bit better.
ADV POTGIETER: Thank you, ma’am, I have no further questions.
CHAIR: We have listened to everything you have said, thank you very much. Are there any questions? Dr Randera?
DR RANDERA: Mrs Van der Merwe, I would like to from myself, commend you in the way you have come forward today in an honest and open way and without any malice whatsoever. Shall I repeat what I said?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: I do understand Afrikaans, but I can’t hear it all the time.
DR RANDERA: Shall I repeat what I said?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Please put it in English.
DR RANDERA: Afrikaans is on one.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: I do understand English, it did not come through very clearly.
DR RANDERA: Did you hear me, ma’am?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes.
DR RANDERA: Mrs Van der Merwe, I just want to come to my question which is that it seems that this issue of the MK soldiers involved or allegedly involved, hinges around the testimony of a Mr X, who happened to be an ANC person himself at the time. Could you please tell us the name of the security policeman who was involved in investigating this issue, the death of your husband?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: The security policeman who took the statement was Jan Karel Coetzee.
CHAIRPERSON: Yasmin Sooka?
MS SOOKA: I would just like to ask you, you talk about the information that you were given, being given to you at court. Ma’am, the facts which were given to you, at court, did you get all the facts at court?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: I saw this in the report, I had this in the report from the police, it was in 1982. I cannot remember the date too well, when I applied for a report regarding his death and at the time of his certification of death. After the certification of death the police, in fact the attorney who did this for me, sent me the police report.
MS SOOKA: (Speaker’s mike not on).
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Yes, that is correct.
MS SOOKA: What was his name, ma’am?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: It was the firm Dyason & Odendaal who were acting for me. They are today known as Dyason only.
MS SOOKA: (Speaker’s mike not on) … this question, because you are using the name Mr X. It seems that the person who is probably testifying in the capacity as an informer, and I would just like to know if you know anything about what actually transpired when Mr X gave his evidence?
MRS VAN DER MERWE: The only information which I have is what was in the report. I do not have any – I never saw the person, except for what was written in the report. That is the information which I have.
MS SOOKA: Thank you, ma’am.
CHAIR: Mrs Van der Merwe, firstly I would like to say that we appreciate the fact that you have come to come and give evidence here and also, we would like to express our sympathy towards you and your family. It is, one could say, it is, but in English they say that it easy to praise someone that is fasting on a full stomach, because you do not feel the pain and suffering, the pain and the suffering is not yours, it is that of the other person. But I hope that the feeling itself when you gave evidence here, that
you felt that people in the audience sympathised with you. The first witness whom we heard this morning, spoke in the same vein, about if only they could find the remains of their son, that they would like to be able to bury him. Here you come along and I believe that it is something wonderful for our country, to be able to experience and accept the fact that we are all but human, Black or White, we all feel the same pain, we all feel the same anguish. When you said here that a person can only be a person by other people, for all the people here to hear that, they are all standing with you. We hope that the truth will surface one day, about what exactly happened to your husband.
We would also like to say that we appreciate the fact that you are not bearing any grudges, and that you could say the way you did, that your story is about pain and you say that it is but a drop in the ocean, when one takes into account the other pain which so many of our other people experienced.
The fact remains, it is still pain, it is your pain, it is something that happened to you and we pray firstly, that God will annoint the wounds with His Holy Spirit and soothe it in that way, and in that way bring about healing. But also, that now that we have a new system, that we all will be determined that things like these, which you have told us about, will not happen again in our country. That each and everyone of us will say I have decided that I will work with everyone who wants to rid this country of violence and keep it out of this country.
Thank you very much for what you have said about weapons and so forth, and we hope that those who have heard your evidence will take cognisance of it. Thank you very
much. Thank you.
MRS VAN DER MERWE: Thank you very much.
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