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: NUNDILAL RABILALL
: CHRISTIAN DE VOS
: 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
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?
CV: Including yourself?
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: 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
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?
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
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?
CV: So he was the only one?
NR: Ya. Even I was not totally, I was quite apolitical at that
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
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?
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?
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.
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?
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
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?
CV: When he said that, do you think that your memories of your
family were supportive of his activism in trying to achieve
NR: I would be lying if I said they were supportive because
he never shared those feelings with my parents.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
CV: And when you learnt that he had left, how did you feel towards
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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
CV: And you had gone for another visit with your parents?
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
CV: When he was gone, those years, was his name in the news?
Was the ANC speaking about him?
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
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
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
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.
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
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