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Interviewee : NUNDILAL RABILALL

Interviewer : CHRISTIAN DE VOS

Date : 23 MAY 2002

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CV: Good morning. My name is Christian de Vos from the Human Sciences Research Council. I am interviewing, today Nundilal Rabilall, the brother of the late Krish Rabilall. This is part of the “Voices of Resistance” project with the University of Durban-Westville Documentation Centre. I would like to thank you, Mr Rabilall, for speaking with us.
NR: It is a pleasure.
CV: We are just going to begin and would like to hear a little bit about, in your words, your brother Krish, if you would like to speak about what it was like growing up with him when he was younger. When you were – before he left the home. Talk a little bit about him.
NR: Look, Krish was one year younger than me. One and half years younger than me, and we grew up very closely together because we had a very small house. There were ten of us. So we slept together most of the time. And we had a small circle near our house and we used to play football together but he was always in the opposition side and we used to have frequent fights. Because you know he was a very good defender and I couldn’t get through to him, get past him. And we used to get cross at times and fight it out but that is nothing – it was nothing serious as such. But as he grew older he became a bit quieter, more reserved, became more serious about life and we never picked up the reason. Only later in life we realised that he was becoming more politically conscious. I don’t know where the source was, but he was becoming very politically conscious.
CV: How old do you think - when did you start noticing a change in him?
NR: At grade eleven, I think that is about standard nine. Ya I that is when he started changing and in matric I think he became quite involved in politics.
CV: And I was reading in your TRC testimony that altogether you had ten siblings. Is that correct?
NR: Yes.
CV: Including yourself?
NR: Yes.
CV: And where did you and Krish fall kind of in the order of?
NR: Well I was the second son and Krish was third. There were three sons and then a daughter.
CV: And then a daughter?
NR: Ya.
CV: Okay.
NR: Well as I said he was growing up and he was very empathetic towards people suffering. That is one thing I noticed very clearly. You know people – he was very compassionate, very humane, and he seemed to get upset when he saw people suffering. Especially with the pets at home. You know, if he saw them suffering he was very upset about it and the same thing with respect to human beings, you know. He became very, very sad when he heard people suffering.
CV: Now when you say – where were you growing up at this time? You were in the Durban area is that correct?
NR: In Merebank.
CV: In Merebank?
NR: Ya.
CV: And is that where he was born and grew up?
NR: He was born and brought up in Merebank yes.
CV: And did you attend the same school?
NR: Yes we did. That was Merebank High School.
CV: Merebank High School okay. And at that time what did your parents do? What did Krish’s parents do?
NR: My Mum was an ordinary housewife. She was totally illiterate. She never even saw the doors of a school. Unfortunately, her parents were very conservative and they didn’t believe in educating girls very much. So my mother was totally illiterate. But my father also didn’t go to school, to a very high standard. Actually he only went up to standard two I think. So and he was a truck driver.
CV: He was a truck driver?
NR: He used to drive for different companies, but basically it was Freight Services in Maydon Wharf.
CV: And the community of Merebank that you grew up in, how would you describe it, at that time, when you were?
NR: It was a poor community. Ya, very poor and quite politically enlightened though. I think Merebank was one of the few areas that was the NIC stronghold. Natal Indian Congress.
CV: What was – how far did Krish go in terms of his educational background?
NR: He only went up to matric. And he was a brilliant student. You know, he excelled in mathematics and physical science. In fact his mathematics teacher who ended up as a rector of training college, Mr G K Nair, often used to come home – he was our neighbour – to actually discuss problems with him which he couldn’t solve himself. And my son presently at the moment has the same qualities as my brother; you know, brilliant in maths. So he was absolutely brilliant in maths and science. But he hated Afrikaans, which he termed the language of the oppressor and refused to study and no matter how much I counselled him, told him you still need it for a job, he wouldn’t listen. So he ended up with a G in Afrikaans. So he had a conditional merit pass in matric. And, that is where his studies ended. He didn’t bother to study further. Then he went into the work situation straight-away.
CV: And what was he eventually hoping?
NR: He was interested in becoming a doctor, but then with Afrikaans being so badly done he, I think, dropped that ideal. Then I think he got involved in politics but I still don’t know up till today what is the – who was the person who actually motivated him to get into politics. I don’t know.
CV: Were there other members of your family that got involved in politics as Krish did?
NR: No.
CV: So he was the only one?
NR: Ya. Even I was not totally, I was quite apolitical at that stage.
CV: When do you feel, do you think Krish’s politicization had an effect on you?
NR: Just after matric when he started the work situation he used to have meetings in the evenings and he had no transport. And I had just started teaching then. So I had a car, an old car and he used to ask me to take him around for those meetings. So I was like the driver for him. Took him to the meetings, and that is when I got politically conscientised because, you know, the books that he used to bring home, I started reading myself. They were banned books, you know.
CV: What kind of books?
NR: Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, Martin Luther King’s books and I can’t remember the other ones off hand now, but all banned books he used to bring. And so I started reading them and that is how I got politically conscientised.
CV: When you say that your family was apolitical or that you weren’t very political, at that time, can you describe how did you feel about living under apartheid? What was your view of the political situation? Were you hoping for change? Did you feel – was there just a gradual process? What was your relationship – how did you view the liberation struggle, at that point?
NR: Well when I got into the teaching situation then my mind opened up further. But initially I wasn’t very politically inclined, but I was aware of the injustices of apartheid and I had the desire that it must be ended, that it must be removed, but I didn’t have any idea of violence, at that stage, in my mind. And I was terrified of white people and we were conditioned by that fear, you know. My parents were terrified of white people, and you know my Mum also when they saw white people coming home for some reason they were scared. My father’s boss used to come home now and then, you know, and my mother used to be terrified, scared to go in front of him and speak. She was very shy and unassuming. We were all conditioned by that kind of fear. Even when I went on a lift in town for example I used to stand at one corner of the lift, you know, far away from the white people because we felt unwanted. I really felt unwanted. And I was scared to confront anybody about that. We were terrified.
CV: We will talk about – we will get to this later, but on that note, in your testimony you talk about your incredible feelings of anger. Did you feel angry at that time or was?
NR: When?
CV: At this time when you were younger, you were talking about fear did you also feel anger?
NR: No, the anger wasn’t there. Only after his death, the anger became very pronounced.
CV: Now you said you grew up in Merebank, which was a cornerstone of the NIC. Did Krish have any involvement in NIC?
NR: Yes.
CV: Okay, he did. Was that his first bridge into political activity?
NR: No, he was involved with the Merebank Ratepayers’ Association. That's where he started.
CV: Okay.
NR: This body is still active in Merebank. Then he joined the Merebank ex-students’ Society. Then he got involved in community work in the poorer sections of Merebank, near the oil refinery. Where the SAIC, South African Indian Council. We used to call them South African Idiots Council, at that stage. They sanctioned the building of those mini houses, matchbox houses, and my brother used to do community work there. You know, providing bread and having rallies on bus fare price increases, bread price increases and things like that. So he was galvanizing the community there. I think that is where his political life actually started before he got into NIC. About the NIC I don’t know of much when he actually got in but I think that is where he got in after his involvement with the MRA, the Merebank Ratepayers Association and the bus association.
CV: Did you – around this time – did you align yourself with any trade union or political organisation or civil association?
NR: No.
CV: No?
NR: No.
CV: And when do you know did Krish take up the cause of the ANC or did he affiliate himself with the cause of the ANC?
NR: I think it was – I can’t remember the date now but it came as a sudden shock to us that he was actually gone into exile when two security branch members came home one day. It was school holiday, it was Eid, and I was in the outbuilding studying, reading at least, when they came in and told us about it. I think it was in 19 – he skipped in 1977. I think it was in 1977. And then they came and told us about that we won’t be seeing him again and you know they were very nasty about it. So when I questioned them about it they told me that we will never be able to see him again because he has gone into exile.
CV: Had he been harassed prior to this?
NR: Not that I was aware of. It is only when he sent us a secret note I think some time later from Swaziland where he was in exile that we realised that he was being harassed. Because apparently they have to skip the border and they were nearly caught by the dogs and they just managed to get over the fence. I just know the vague parts of that. But the person to question about that, I think, is Vis Pillay who skipped with him.
CV: I see.
NR: Ya. So they were harassed and they were forced to flee.
CV: And when he was working with the Merebank community association, did he feel that he couldn’t act – organise as he wanted to because of being monitored by security forces or anything like that or was he able to do that work fairly unencumbered?
NR: No I don’t think he was able to do that very easily. But he never really talked much. He was a very quiet person. So he never gave me the impression that he was being you know prevented from doing any of those things.
CV: You say he was a very quiet person?
NR: Very quiet.
CV: Did he have a different persona when he was doing this work in the community?
NR: No he was always quiet. He always worked in the background. He never looked for the limelight. Ya, he never did.
CV: And did he ever express to you or could you say in a word what you thought his goal as an activist was? What he was trying to achieve?
NR: He was trying to achieve a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa, where all people live harmoniously in co-existence with each other. That was his goal.
CV: That was his goal?
NR: Ya.
CV: When he said that, do you think that your memories of your family were supportive of his activism in trying to achieve his goal?
NR: I would be lying if I said they were supportive because he never shared those feelings with my parents.
CV: Really?
NR: Ya. So he was more a loner, you know he did it quietly, in the background. We never knew his political involvement until the stage – we never knew the extent of his political involvement until the stage he went into exile. We knew he was mildly involved but we never knew he was so deep until he went into exile.
CV: Are you saying it was a conscious choice on his part to perhaps hide it?
NR: Ya, I think so. I think so.
CV: Because he knew that?
NR: I think he knew my mother would be disturbed, she was illiterate. My father was not highly educated. They were all struggling to make a survival and he probably knew that he was embarking on a dangerous course and that would probably send him into exile. So he never gave us any impression that he was ever going into exile or that he was ever going to skip the country.
CV: And your other siblings, at this time, what fields did they pursue?
NR: All of them finished matric. My big brother is in Transvaal. He finished matric, then he started in the work situation straightaway. The other chap, he finished matric. He tried to burn the laboratory of the school down in Merebank because he was being upset by the propaganda that was being spread about my brother, as well in that school. You know they regarded him as a terrorist and so on. And he, out of frustration, tried to burn the lab down one day. He used to sleep with my brother as well. So they were very close. In fact they were closer than I was to Krishna - the chap who tried to burn the lab down. So he was – we had a rough time trying to sort that problem out with police, they wanted to jail him, but fortunately the members of the NIC intervened.
CV: Pay his bail.
NR: And the other brothers all just finished matric. Ya, that is about all. None of them are really in the teaching profession or any other profession. They all finished matric and they are working or married. The three sisters - they are all married.
CV: I wondered, do you feel that what happened to Krish in terms of how it politicized you, did that have a similar effect on your other brothers and sisters?
NR: Everybody, even my big brother who only finished standard eight, I think – no I think he finished matric. I can’t even remember now. He got into – he wasn’t politically inclined at all. He used to support the white soccer teams and so on but after my brother’s death his transformation was remarkable. In fact he was more politically conscientised than me and he did a lot of work for the ANC in the Phoenix area and he was active, very active in the ANC. And now he is in the Transvaal.
CV: I am going to turn a little bit to the testimony you gave in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In which you speak also about growing up with Krish. Specifically you refer to - he ran a community newspaper called The Sentinel, which had a strong political slant, evoking community consciousness on issues such as the bread price, workers problems, etcetera. He also did great a deal of social work with numerous exiles and detainees. I wonder if you could talk just a little bit more in-depth about The Sentinel. How often it came out? Who it was aimed at? How that began?
NR: To tell you the truth I don’t know too much about The Sentinel. It came out, I think, once in every three months I think it was, and I don’t have any copies at home as well. But it had a very strong political slant. You know evoking the political consciousness of the people in the Minitown area especially. He’ll talk about bread price increases, about the bus fare increases and things like that. All I did was to take them around to duplicate the paper, duplicate the copies but when the situation was getting rough they told me to take that machine and dump it somewhere. Because I think the Security Branch were beginning to trace where the machine was. So I had to take it all the way to Greytown to my in-laws and it is still there. And nobody knows that it is there. We were so terrified at that stage. You know we were very scared, so I just took it in my car and left it at my in-laws.
CV: This was a free paper?
NR: It was a free paper.
CV: And when you were doing that how did you – would you say you had already been politicized by Krish’s involvement in politics when you were assisting in the distribution of The Sentinel?
NR: Yes I was.
CV: So when you were doing – when you were assisting in that, did you, yourself feel like you were politically active, or would you say?
NR: Not very politically active because my profession we were also being watched and we couldn’t really – the Broederbond had a very strong control over Indian education at that stage and teachers were slightly progressive in their thinking. We were targets. Spider Juggernath was one of them. He was picked up at school at Westcliff a couple of times. So we all had that fear. So I never shared that political consciousness with the teachers around me because most of the teachers themselves up till today, many of them are not politically conscientized, and we were scared to speak to them about it.
CV: Was this newspaper, The Sentinel, was that solely Krish’s responsibility or did he work, to your knowledge, with other people?
NR: No I think he worked with other people. I think Satish Juggernath was one of them. He is in Sbu Ndabele’s Transport Department, at the moment. I think he was one of them. Ya, Vis was there as well. As I said my brother never – I used to just take them around. He never really shared all that knowledge with me. So I don’t know too much about that part of his life, you know.
CV: When you were doing all that did you feel like you were doing something that was helping your brother or did you feel like you were doing something that was a part of...?
NR: I should be very honest. I felt at that stage that I was helping my brother. The reason I told Spider, I don’t know if you know Spider Juggernath as well – once that look our community is struggling to make ends meet here. And you know they are more worried about bread and butter issues and we are becoming so politically involved we are going to get into trouble. That was my thinking at that stage. I was still very conservative at that level. And so I wasn’t doing much for the struggle at that stage myself. That is the truth.
CV: Did you find that you argued with Krish about politics at this time? Did you feel like he was taking things too far?
NR: No I didn’t.
CV: No?
NR: No. I respected his individuality in that respect.
CV: Alright. Now, in your testimony you talk about how he fled with Vis Pillay in 1977, that is when the security forces came to your house. Had you had prior run-ins with Security Branch before they came to your house that night?
NR: No, no - [interruption]
CV: And that - I am sorry.
NR: That was the first time they came, after he had fled.
CV: And how did you feel, if you can talk about it? How your parents felt after they told you this?
NR: Ya, actually I was devastated you know. I was in the outbuilding and I tried to gather some courage to go and tell them but I only told them towards the evening. I was, you know, in a turmoil because I didn’t know how to break the news to them. I was the only one at home at that time. My big brother wasn’t politically conscientised as well. So I didn’t know what to do but I had to tell them. And I waited for evening – that is when my brother used to come home from work – Krish that is. And I told my mother that he won’t be coming home today and that he has already left the country and – well, she broke into tears. She burst out crying and you know, when people die you get that kind of expression. She was crying as if it was a funeral. And when my dad came home, it was even worse. Both of them were devastated to hear that they would never see him again. And I was a bit angry at that stage too, and I told them, you know, I can’t understand why he had to leave the country and so all those things started coming out of my mouth as well. You know we were all devastated and he was working at that stage. He was supporting the family as well.
CV: Did your mother know, when you explained to her that he had left, did she know and understand that it was because of his political activity?
NR: No she was not aware of that.
CV: And your father as well?
NR: Even my dad. You know, as I said my brother did things very quietly, unassumingly and never really spoke about his life outside, you know. So none of us were really aware of the kind of involvement he had. So it really came as a shock to them. So that is when I had to start the process of education of my parents.
CV: And when you learnt that he had left, how did you feel towards him?
NR: It was mixed feelings actually. I was a bit angry as well, because he didn’t tell us that he was going to do something like that or that he had some notion in the future that he would probably be forced to do something like that. He never gave us any intention whatsoever and that he was supporting the family as well and we felt kind of desertion as well at that stage you know. But it wasn’t a strong feeling of antagonism towards him no. No it is just that we felt a bit let down that he had to do it in this way but we didn’t know at that stage the circumstances in which he had to do it.
CV: How would you describe the financial impact on your family after he left?
NR: It was quite severe because I was married a year later, 1978. And the house where we were living was very small. I had a single room with my wife and all the furniture was stuffed in there so I had to look for another place. So I had to support myself as well but I was supporting my family as well. So there was a lot of – what shall I say? I can’t find the right word now – it made a huge impact on my finances but I never deserted my parents.
CV: Never.
NR: Ah yes, never. In fact if I can recall my wife if she was here would tell you the same. By the middle of the month we had about R4 in my pocket to buy bread and milk. The rest I had to give at home. I felt obligated to give my parents the money. I think my dad was just about – I don’t know if he was unemployed at that stage, because in the trucking business the jobs are not there all the time, and his health was not very good too. And my big brother wasn’t earning. He was married. He was living separately as well. So basically the burden fell on me financially but I did what I could.
CV: What was the family like? What was the flavour of family life like after Krish’s departure?
NR: It was very, very sad actually. You know, when I
shifted out to Kharwastan and I went home, my
Mum used to look forward to me coming home. If I
didn’t go there at least once a month she would be
very upset. She kind of looked at me, as you know,
substituting for Krish, that I had to visit her every month, although I was living separately from
her. And my dad too. She would sit outside there
waiting for me. So I used to take groceries there.
You know go shopping, come back. Not once a
month, sorry, once a week. I used to go there every
week. Every Saturday they used to wait for me. So,
it was very lonely for them after my brother passed
away. Because my mother was very attached to him,
because he was such a quiet person and he had an
arthritic knee, you know, he used to have problems
with his knee, and whenever he came from
work she used to bandage it, massage it. You know
she missed that kind of thing. You know mothers
are special, or if it’s something that they are forced
to do, or it’s a chore, but they love doing that. And
she missed that. And every birthday subsequently,
after his death she remembered the date. Although
she was highly uneducated, but that day she never
failed to remember.
CV: You talk a little bit in your testimony about the impact on your parents’ health. I don’t know if you could touch on that a bit?
NR: Yes my – well you can see they were beginning to age very visibly. Especially my dad. You know he – my dad was a special kind of person. Although he had ten children he was a different kind of person. We had to kiss him before we go to work, I mean to school. Although we were quite old, big enough. We used to feel embarrassed but he made sure we had to kiss him before we go to work. He used to buy one Kitkat [chocolate] and the whole family used to share that and on Fridays he used to buy cakes for us. So he felt my brother’s death very badly, and he started smoking a lot and drinking a lot too. You know so his health went really downhill.
CV: Was this – this was after his exile or after his – after he had known that he had died?
NR: After he died, especially. When he was in exile at least we had the chance of seeing him and a few times we did see him, he was thrilled you know. And he knew that the cause he was fighting for and he went on certain platforms, rallies and so and so it had pepped him up. So he was quite happy about that but after he died he just went downhill. And my mother as well you know she used to suffer from blackouts quite often. At the funeral itself she had a blackout. She had a sugar problem. All those were aggravated after his death. So she used to go for treatment to Clairwood Hospital almost every month. Once a month, she had to go.
CV: Once a month?
NR: Ya, she had to go.
CV: Do you feel – did you feel that your family was, did you feel threatened after Krish had gone into exile and you had the Security Branch come to you that night? That you say here he told the white officer that it would be a good idea to put the entire Rabilall family along the front wall to face the firing squad?
NR: Yes.
CV: Were you harassed after that and even if you weren’t did you feel a constant threat?
NR: No we never felt a constant threat. After his death they didn’t really harass us very much because I think they had achieved what they wanted to. You know they wanted him put away and that is what they had achieved. Well I was as I said not very actively involved so they didn’t target me so much. I don’t know about my brother in Phoenix, but at that time the ANC had been unbanned, so we became more brave. So we began to speak out at every platform that we found. But prior to that we were scared.
CV: I want to talk a little bit about the time period your brother fled in 1977 and between 1981 when he was killed. You said that you received several months later a secret note from Krish. Was that the first communication you had?
NR: First communication.
CV: And what were you thinking in not having had any communication? Were you afraid of what might have happened to him?
NR: Yes we were totally unaware of what was going on, on the other side. So my parents were all anxious. We never had any information about him. So we were all in the dark. So this letter came, as you know, a blessing because it gave us an idea that he was alive and that he wanted us to meet him at some time.
CV: Now you mentioned he wanted to meet you in Swaziland?
NR: Yes.
CV: What was that reunion like?
NR: You know it is difficult to describe because my parents were so upbeat about going on that trip. You know getting up early in the morning, preparing food for him, buying clothes for him. We, you know - they went out of their way just to get there. And they were impatient to just to see him. So when they met him it was – I don’t know, they just hugged him and they just burst into tears. And the meeting place was actually a roadside. That was more distressing at that stage because we never knew where he stayed in Swaziland. He never even took us there. In fact he had booked at Timbali Caravan Park for us to stay there. And that is the few days we spent with him at that park.
CV: And how – did you have any trouble getting over the border at that time?
NR: Yes, we had a lot of problems. The people at the
border, I don’t know, for some reason, they seemed
to have known us – known that we were coming
that way. I don’t know whether they had any access
to information that we coming that way and they
didn’t want to allow us in. It could have been
coincidence it may not have been politically
motivated but they didn’t allow my son. I had
my first son at that stage. He was a small baby, still
being carried, and because he didn’t have a passport,
they didn’t allow us in. They used that as an excuse
to send us out. So they refused to allow us in but
we all – all of us had passports except my son. So
my wife decided to, you know, find the nearest town
and leave her there, she wanted us to leave her
there and then we could go and see my brother at
least. And that is when we drove to Piet Retief and
managed to - we were circling that small town
looking for a place and you know, it was very
difficult to find a place. There was a lady who, when
we asked her, she said no problem but her brother
was there and when he heard that we were going to
stay there, leave my wife there for a few nights, he
refused point blank. And so we carried on circling
the town. I eventually ended up at the same place. I
didn’t know at the same intersection. You know we
got lost and this girl stopped me again and she said
"no, you must stay here." She had spoken to her
brother. So we stayed there. It was a Moslem home
and quite a conservative one. So I think the brother
was – because we were Hindus I think he didn’t
want us to stay there. That is a reality I think. It
wasn’t for any other reason why he refused.
CV: When you were staying that time with Krish those few days – was it the entire family or just you and your parents?
NR: No just me, my fourth brother and my parents.
CV: I see.
NR: Ya.
CV: And did you find – did you think Krish had changed in that time from before he fled to when you spent those few days with him in Swaziland or was he the same person?
NR: He was the same person.
CV: He was?
NR: Ya.
CV: Did he talk about what he was doing at that time?
NR: No he didn’t.
CV: Did you ask or?
NR: No I didn’t really ask. I knew because I didn’t really want to discuss in front of my parents.
CV: After that time you said you met in a clandestine
fashion. In this period security – am quoting:
"Security Branch police would often come home and harass my family, especially my mother, who was alone and the rest of us had gone to work. They would want to know if we received any communications from my brother."
NR: Yes they would ask her whether he had communicated with her, know where he was. Things like that. They just wanted to know where he was, his whereabouts.
CV: And how did she handle that?
NR: She told them she doesn’t know. She was getting a bit brave at that stage because she had realised that my brother won’t be coming back for a while.
CV: And did you feel threatened as well or during that or when you knew that they were coming to talk to your mother or?
NR: No, they didn’t really actually – they just harassed her, but they never really threatened her. You know maybe I used the word threaten there but I am not sure. I don’t think they threatened her as such. They just wanted to find out each time whether he had communicated and where he was but they never really threatened her physically in any way.
CV: When was the last time you saw Krish before his death?
NR: I think it was just before he died, 1980 I think it was. You know I have got a bad memory.
CV: The date - [unclear].
NR: I have a very bad memory. I think it was the beginning of 1981.
CV: And you had gone for another visit with your parents?
NR: Yes.
CV: But were they always connected in Swaziland?
NR: Swaziland, yes.
CV: And did you – how long did you spend with him that time, do you recall?
NR: It was about three or four days.
CV: And each time, did he seem like the same person to you, or were you noticing changes with - [unclear].
NR: He seemed the same person to us all the time, in his relationship with us, in his mannerisms, everything was the same. He hadn’t changed in that respect. His mind had probably changed you know he had become politically a giant at that stage but he never showed that.
CV: When he was gone, those years, was his name in the news? Was the ANC speaking about him?
NR: Yes.
CV: They were?
NR: In fact the 10th anniversary was held at the St. Michael’s Church in Merebank. So they had a function for him there, a memorial service.
CV: This is in 1991?
NR: In 1991.
CV: And did people from the ANC stay in touch with your family about his well-being, or was your only knowledge of him through the communication that he sent?
NR: No we didn’t really receive much communication from the ANC, no.
CV: I want to talk a little bit about when you heard the news that he had been killed. Can you describe in your own words the details that you were told at that time and how you felt?
NR: Ya actually it was late night. I was in bed I think and I heard a knock on my window. I think I just moved into my home at that stage. It was 1981 I moved into Kharwastan, ya. And I heard a knock on the window and two of my brother’s friends had come there. I think it was Satish Juggernath. I can’t remember who the other one was. I don’t know if it was Raymond Lalla or Vis. It couldn’t have been Vis, Vis was gone. I think it was Raymond Lalla had come and told me that my brother was killed. I was devastated. I was frozen with shock. I didn’t even cry because I was expecting something like that. I knew at some time because of the way that Security Police were harassing my parents trying to find out his whereabouts. I knew that something like that would happen because the Defence Force was, you know, doing their raids and things like that, in the surrounding black states. So we were expecting something – I was expecting something like this.
CV: You were?
NR: The shock came afterwards. I only cried after that. You know but at that moment I didn’t. I was just frozen with shock.
CV: And you said you were expecting it. Had that ever been a conversation that you would have with Krish when you saw him those times or was it just a...?
NR: No it was just a feeling that I had in me.
CV: And it fell on you again to inform your parents of this to give them the news.
NR: Ya. I can’t recall how I did it. I just can’t recall that. No I didn’t tell them that he was killed.
CV: Oh you didn’t?
NR: No I told them that he was injured. I spoke to my bigger brother and I told him you know that I don’t think that we could tell them straightaway. Because they won’t be able to go on the trip you know.
CV: For the funeral.
NR: For the funeral. And so he suggested that we just tell them that he is injured, and gradually I think we will try and break the news to them on that side. And that is what we did.
CV: And how long a time – how long a period of time passed before your parents knew the truth would you say?
NR: Look they probably sensed it, but on the trip to Swaziland they were very, very quiet but when we reached the Mozambican border there was a very long delay there. I don’t know what was the cause of the delay. We just had to sit in the car and wait and wait and wait. And then the other comrades began to pass through the border and they were also delayed there. And I think while they were discussing or in conversation with them they probably learned that he was killed because from that point onwards you could see that the tears were rolling down their faces. And I don’t know, but I never told them directly that he had died. Even there - although that was my intention to do it on that side. They just got the knowledge themselves.
CV: So from what you had told them when you were driving into Mozambique they...[interruption]
NR: At the border I think they - [interruption]
CV: It was just that he had been injured and they knew the truth?
NR: Yes, yes.
CV: You talk in your testimony about thanking the ANC for the support that they provided at the funeral.
NR: Yes.
CV: What was that like? What happened? What kind of support did they offer?
NR: Well, when we went there, first of all they took us out to a place where all the other comrades were housed, their parents were housed. They had a place for us to sleep and there were well-wishers coming there, you know, offering condolences. Oliver Tambo himself came there. Offered his condolences and then they arranged the funeral, everything about the funeral. They took us to the mortuary where we had to see the bodies and then the funeral itself was arranged by them. It was a huge funeral. There was a huge crowd there and they allowed us to do the funeral according to Hindu tradition. They provided the meals and everything else. They took us on a tour of the building that was bombed. So, and all along, right till the time they released us, they put us on the bus to get back to Swaziland they did all the arrangements.
CV: When they took you to see the building that was bombed, can you describe it?
NR: The shock! it was very difficult to express the shock. There were holes in the walls. It was mortar-bombed. There were teargas canisters all over. There were bullet holes in the buildings and blood on the floors. Furniture strewn about. It was, you know, a real huge raid it seemed by the South African Defence Force soldiers, I think, who were painted black, apparently. I think the faces, that is what we heard there – they had painted their faces black, but they were white soldiers.
CV: Okay I am going to pause here and I will turn the tape over and we are going to talk a bit more about that in a minute.
END OF TAPE 1A