Chapter 5 – Basotho – Their Last Supper

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From the book: Le Rona Re Batho (An account of the 1982 Maseru Massacre) by Phyllis Naidoo, South Africa, 1992

Into this sketchy collage which is Lesotho, the SADF came with enormous firepower to kill “ANC terrorists” but NOT women, children and Basotho.

Let us examine the last mentioned – the Basotho, our hosts, killed in the massacre.

How do you tell a Mosotho from a South African? The SADF knew the answer to that question. Their government had invented a pen/pencil to tell who was a Coloured by pushing the same pen into the hair of the person whose identity was being established.

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Can you believe this? Can you believe that we are home grown products of this society?

They were the experts – Clever folks these.

Their military intelligence services had done their home­work and only ANC “terrorists” were targets. If their claim of a successful raid is to believed then no children, no women, no Basotho should have been killed.

However, the record shows otherwise.

Let us look at our hosts who were killed for no other reason than that they were Black and offered a home to us. Guilt by association has been the hallmark of our justice system.

JASENTA MAPULENG MAFISA

Mapuleng, a 17-year-old student was the third child of Moekane Mafisa and Mateboho Mafisa was killed. The first, a daughter, was married. Their second, a son, was on the mines and their fourth was a boy, a 14-year-old scholar.

After the massacre in Lesotho a number of concerned expa­triates and the ANC raised over 20,000 rand. Since the Govern­ment of Lesotho undertook the funeral arrangements for all those massacred in the SADF raid. Our Committee decided that we would divide the money collected between the families who had suffered the loss of their loved ones.

The Mafisa family only heard in July 1983 that there was some help and Moekane called on me on 1 August 1983. It was from him that I was able to glean these details of Mapuleng and to learn of the utter poverty in which she was nurtured.

Receiving his money, he said that his dead child put more money into his hands at one time, than his employment at the mines ever did.

Mapuleng was born in 1965 in Teyateyaneng. Since 1941, her father, Moekane Mafisa, was employed on the mines at Springs. He was never home to witness the birth of his 4 children. He was a migrant worker and earned three pounds per month. His wage only allowed him one visit per year. No, he did not have a wife in Springs. He did send some money “as much as he could afford after expenses

In 1952 when on a two week Christmas leave, he married Mateboho by custom. Subsequently this marriage was blessed in a Christian church. He holds the certificate of this marriage. It was brought to me in the glassed picture frame that held it. Most of my clients brought their certificates in heavy frame, that strained their files immeasurably.

It was insufficient that marriages were made in heaven. Marriage certificates graced the walls of most Basotho to show to the whole world that the householders relationship was legal and proper.

Mapuleng’s mother took care of the home, growing maize and sorghum and Moroho for food. With the money Moekane sent her she bought soap and Rinso to keep them and their clothes clean. Their youngest child was born in 1963 and around 1973 Moekane returned home on six months leave. It was the first time that he would have spent so much time at home. It would have been a wonderful time to get to know his children, his wife and to learn how the family coped, to be a husband to his wife and a father to his children.

The mines did this when ‘workers are tired; he said, explaining his leave. Since 1980 it had become customary to get this ‘tired leave” with a bonus of one hundred rand, calculated as a percentage of one’s paltry earnings. At the end of the six months one could return to work if he was able to.

Mafisa’s tired leave’ was accompanied by a month’s wage of twelve pounds or twenty-four rand. After a week on a leave he became seriously ill, and had to be hospitalised. He had Tuberculosis (TB). His mining activities were over and what little contribution he made to the home terminated. He now added to the burden of Mateboho. There were no further payments from his erstwhile mining bosses. His own physical contribution to the farm was minimal. He served only as a scarecrow near harvest time

His lean face was covered in a grey moustache and beard which blended with his once black hair. His grey head was close shaven. As he spoke, his cheeks were sucked into his face showing pink gums. His discoloured teeth were spaced mark­edly apart. His neck was hollowed into his frame with not an ounce of excess fat or muscle. His brown skin was drawn tightly over his face with generous allowances for furrows. Even his lips were an apology. Into this ‘man’ were embedded two sharp shy eyes which refused to meet mine throughout the interview.

Next time you attend a function at a university to thank the mining director who bestows a handsome grant and listen to the accolades of his generosity, think of Mafisa.

Only in 1981 was his second son able to go to work on the mines and so help meet household expenses, the fears for his own health overridden by the urgent needs of his family.

Mapuleng was at school at Sefikeng. Mateboho’s sister Francina lived there. Mapuleng reduced the strains on her own home and Francina was glad of the help Mapuleng gave her.

The local police Sergeant informed the Mafisas that Mapuleng could baby sit in Maseru during the Christmas holidays for ten rand and so help to pay her school fees. It was agreed that as soon as Mapuleng returned from Sefikeng she would accom­pany the Sergeant to her holiday employment. Both parents were employed. They needed help to take care of their two little children. Mapuleng would live with them and return in time for school.

Mapuleng returned from Sefikeng and was at home for two whole days. Her last two days, her father said, shaking his head from side to side.

When I wrote this account in August 1983 I asked, “Who knows the hurt of parents who lose such young offspring and in such circumstances. Who? “

Writing in May 1992,I can share my own experience. My son Sahdhan was assassinated by a South African agent named ‘TEX’ on 15 April 1989 at 9:15 pm. The loss of your child is an immeasurable pain that encompasses your whole being con­stantly. Three years later I live with this undiminished grief. It is stuck in my throat and from time to time breaks into tears. So, Moekane and Mateboho I hold your hands if you still live in TY or wherever else, I share your pain.

Mapuleng was found on 9 December 1982, with numerous wounds on her body with two children asleep over her cold corpse. Over the weekend, following the SADF massacre, the local Sergeant informed the Mafisas that their child died in the ‘maburu’ (the boer) attack.

What does your apology do for this family, General? The editorial of the Sunday Times following the raid pontificates as follows:

How serious those threats were, only South Africa’s security chiefs know, BUT IT APPEARS FROM DENCE TO HAND, THAT THE ANC TARGETS FOR THE MASERU RAID WERE INVOLVED IN A CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN OF TERROR IN SOW

Could 17-year-old Mapuleng have been part of this purported terror campaign, Mr. Editor?

MOTLATSI, ANNA and PONDO HLALELE

Pondo Hlalele (14yrs). This was not a crossfire killing.

Anna Hlalele was the wife of Motlatsi and Pondo was his brother, a mere child of fourteen years. Motlatsi was a motor mechanic and Anna worked in the civil service. Pondo was at school. Their crime was their occupation of an erstwhile ANC home. This home had been vacated months ago and with housing shortage in Maseru it was occupied immediately.

The killers found Pondo sheltering near a stove and filled his little body with so many bullets. Why? Why did train killers use so many bullets when one should have been enough?

SEFATA, MATEBOHO, AND 4-YEAR-OLD TEBOHO JAFETA

Sefata, the father of Teboho was employed at Bedco. Mother, Mateboho was employed at the Cabinet office. All three were cruelly murdered and not killed in the crossfire. Certainly when Teboho was awakened with the grenade that blew the door to the family home open, he cried for his mother. She was killed as she rose from her bed, and so too was his father. Too late to comfort their child whose fourth birthday they had celebrated on the previous Sunday, with so many friends, family and neighbours.

Teboho Sefata (4yrs.old)

As he cried for the comforting arms of his mother, an SADF put a bullet into his little head. Outside the house, they put bullets into Vorster, the pet dog of their neighbour.

Whites hold themselves to be avid animal lovers. Hear them on radio speak of their cats and dogs and you want to puke. Black people don’t rate at all. The measure of ‘civilisation’ in our neck of the woods is how you treat animals, not human beings. In the protection of apartheid and White privilege, White owned dogs play a significant role. They are programmed to bark at Blacks. Many a tattered White hobo is ignored while a well-dressed Black is barked at as if all hell were let loose. Is the new South Africa going to deal with White owned dogs?

Few complain about malnourished children, but starving dogs set the White national glands working furiously and instantaneously. So why did you kill Vorster? He bore your President’s name? Is that a crime?

Why did this group breach the order not to kill Lesotho citizens, women and children? This was no crossfire killing. A child of four years, in his cot, was deliberately and brutally murdered.

Was there no order dealing with animals

MATUMO RALEBITSO

A librarian at the University of Roma, was visiting in Kuena Flats in Maseru West, bordering the homes of the Lesotho elite and the diplomatic corps. The block housed many expatriate aid workers. The night watchman identified Limpho Hani’s flat to the SADF at their request,

Where is the “CAREFUL PLANNING, BASED ON ACCURATE INTELLIGENCE WENT INTO THE SUCCESFUL OPERATION AGAINST THE ANC HIDEOUTS IN LESOTHO ? (Quote from Paratus, official organ of the January 1983 Page 21.)

Keuna flats home of Matumo, Gene and Limpho

A frightened night watchman on the spot, in fact pointed out the flat occupied by Matumo’s friend.

She was the daughter of a former Minister of State in Lesotho and at the time of the raid, the Ambassador to Mozambique. Again, this Mosotho was not killed in the crossfire.

Hearing the grenade attack on her flat she jumped two floors down. A Black SADF dashed her hopes of survival. Her peppered body was found lying in the drain downstairs. He was heard saying to his White superiors later,” I killed her, boss”.

No equality in the SADF – what?

Who was Limpho Hani? While her name is written with an ‘L’ it is pronounced ‘Dimpho ‘ – a Sesotho language phenom­enon. It was not an alias as claimed by the SADF but the correct Sesotho pronunciation.

She was Limpho Sekamane who often claimed her alle­giance to the BCP and her leader NTSU MOKHEHLE. She was married to ANC’s Chris Hani. Anyone looking for her would have found her in the Lesotho telephone directory then, listed under the alphabet ‘H’ as

Hani Limpho (Mrs.), Box No 1378, telephone number 24718

All you needed to do was phone the number and enquire the number of the flat, using the tactics you’re taught to elicit information.

Limpho, a Mosotho, was also detained in both Bloemfontein and Cape Town for nearly a year in 1978, in the custody of the South African police, under the notorious Terrorism Act.

She miscarried in detention and gave evidence for the state in a trial in Cape Town. She was certainly well known to the regime. She was never the Chairperson of the Women’s section in Lesotho as claimed by the SADF. But the SADF mistook Limpho for Matumo Ralebitso.

So much for ACCURATE INTELLIGENCE , General!

Following the raid, in a debate in Parliament, the Minister of Police in Parliament told the House that ‘CONCLUSIVE EVI­DENCE’ was the basis for the raid. Amateur detectives would have done better than our tax paid officers.

PETER T’SENOLI

Peter was the eldest son of a widow, Mrs. Mana Tsenoli. He was a building contractor by trade. His only crime was that he was poor. Black supported his widowed mother and three brothers and sadly occupied a room vacated by the ANC.

He was awakened by a grenade breaking open his door and was found sheltering his face from the bullets of the regime’s paid killers.

No crossfire killed this Mosotho! A further result of accurate intelligence.

MRS. MAPOLOKO SEHLABAKA

Curiosity did not kill a cat in Maseru, but killed a Mosotho mother of Poloko and Tsetsane and wife of Tseliso living in Ha Hohlo in Maseru.

Awakened from a deep sleep by an explosion. Mapoloko went to the window, drew the curtain to see what was going on. A pretty ordinary reaction. Her husband drew her away from the window and as he did so she fell dead into his arms with a bullet in her head.

This was no crossfire. The ANC home next door was under attack and the SADF did not want witnesses so they shot and killed a curious neighbour.

So, my countrymen, you robbed two children of their mother and a husband of his wife. Why? Is this why Minister of Law and Order Louis Le Grange could not give the names of dead in Maseru to Parliament on 23 February 1983, almost 3 months after the massacre, despite the accurate information and intelligence of the SADF?

FLORENCE MATESELISO

She was a Mosotho, a woman, and a visitor at an ANC home. Your accurate intelligence again failed you. She was a popular sales lady at a local store and a well-known Mosotho. You were ordered not to kill women. You killed two in this home. Both visitors, one a South African (more about her later) and the other a Mosotho. And how could Florence who was caught in a crossfire, have collected enough bullets to kill 20 people?

NAPHTALI TSIMILE

Another curious Mosotho was killed. Curiosity, a healthy and much encouraged trait by teachers terminated the life of T’simile. Hearing the explosions nearby, father T’ simile to check on the non-arrival of his sons. He stood in the shelter of fruit trees in his garden and watched. What he saw we will never know.

Perhaps a crossfire bullet took his life but knowing how the SADF behaved in Ha Hoohlo when Mapoloko was killed as she lifted her curtain, you probably spotted T’simile and did your dirty work.

Let me tell you more about Naphtali and why the Lesotho government says it has 10,000 refugees. He was born in Moroko North near Johannesburg on 9 February 1921. His birth gave him the right to be called a South African. His Black skin denied him those universally recognised rights. He worked on the railways for 25 years, for a wage, more correctly a pittance, you should enquire from that government parastatal – the South African Railways.

He married Maria, a young lass from Sophiatown. Do you remember that place? Bishop Trevor Huddlestone will tell you all about that in his ‘picture book’. Naphtali and Maria had 12 children of whom only 3 survived the rigours of apartheid South Africa. The last two born in Lesotho continue to flourish. It was to check on these two that he perished.

Maria worked as a maid for madam’ at R12.00 per month, cleaning flats. Oh yes, when the babies came, it was overnight in hospital/clinic and back at work the next day.

What, no maternity leave? No, damn you, no leave. With baby strapped to her back she was back with her mop, broom, vim for the baas and madam. They have to have their early morning coffee in bed, she explains. It was the best money at that time, she claims. What was the worst?

At 45, Naphtali had his fill of scraping railway lines, through summer and winter, through rain and the blistering sun, but mostly he had his fill of that damned DOMPASS. His wife had recently joined him in carrying her female variety of the dompass daily. He did not want his three children to know that demon dompass.

The final straw was the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960; the family decided they had to leave. They tried to save on their joint income of R25.00 and R12.00 and arrived in Maseru in 1966. They were allocated a site and built a room and butchery. With time they extended their home. “I refuse to work in any body kitchen now but sell fruit and vegetables on the streets of Maseru”, Maria said proudly.

Maria was in Johannesburg visiting relatives at the time of the massacre and was anxious about her daughter Eva who was married to an ANC member. On arrival on 11 December, it was Eva who broke the news of her father’s death. Maria rummaged through the dead in the mortuary and found her husband with a bullet in his head.

Good aim and no crossfire. General?

So Naphtali left South Africa to escape the bullets after Sharpeville but they followed him into Lesotho.

There is your record, of the twelve Basothos of whom five were women, and three children that you murdered on the Thursday morning of 9 December 1982.

Ask any mother! At 16 years you sent Black children out of their parents homes in Soweto and elsewhere so that they would carry a dompass and be ready to labour cheaply. With all due respect, these are children.

Their innocence is patent. Crossfire killing non-existent.

All died not knowing that they had eaten their last supper if, indeed, they had eaten.

THE WOUNDED:

The SADF also wounded the two women who visited my comrades. They forced the ladies to hold my comrade while they pumped them with bullets. The lady visitors were covered with my comrades’ blood. All the while saying, “enjoy your terrorist now”.

A pregnant Mosotho mother was wounded. Six months pregnant, the bullet was embedded in her womb. Luckily the bullet was removed and both mother and child have lived to tell the tale. Thank you Queen 2. (Hospital)

Another Mosotho woman had a bullet embedded in her thigh. This was removed and she has returned to mother her child. I was asked not to mention the names of these woman who feared for their lives. What trauma they were left in. They will wear these scars forever.

How do you measure success, General? Contrary to your orders 12 Basothos were killed – 3 women, 3 children, 6 children and two women were wounded.

By no stretch of the imagination was a success, it is a ghastly catastrophe, ne’!

Is it possible that besides arms from Israel, the Israelis in warfare trained your SADF? Some of your methods are so similar to the mindless Israeli annihilation of young Palestinians. The issue of the violation of Lesotho’s sovereign taken up internationally and South Africa was taken up condemned at the General Assembly of the United Nations with the lone voice of the United States not participating in the vote.

With the debacle of Los Angeles fresh in our minds, we can answer that question, now.