DURBAN - INDEPENDENT community activist Vanessa Burger has taken the stand to give testimony at the Moerane Commission sitting at the department of public works in Mayville, Durban on Monday morning.
The commission was set up by Premier Willies Mchunu last year to look into killings in KwaZulu-Natal which were believed to be politically motivated.
In opening the resumed session, which is expected to see a number of residents of the Glebelands hostel testifying, evidence leader Advocate Bheki Manyathi tabled a combined perspective by four witnesses who testified at the beginning of the commission, and asked Burger if she agreed with or wanted to add more to their perspective.
“The witnesses’ combined perspective is that politics, power, failure by the Metro police, the SAPS, failure by the municipality, corruption and personal enrichment were the motivation for the killings at the Glebelands Hostel. Do you agree or want to add more to that?” Manyathi asked Burger.
“I agree with the perspective by the witnesses. The hostel violence and illegal eviction had a socio-economic impact on the residents and their families, especially in the rural areas.
During these violent evictions, women and children were affected. I know one child who tried to kill himself after his father was shot. Twenty-one of the 25 people I interviewed said their families depended on them. Nineteen reported extreme depression and one attempted suicide,” Burger testified.
She told the commission that funeral costs were unbearable for the affected families and as a result residents of the hostel would contribute for the repatriation of bodies outside the province.
“Repatriation could cost a minimum of R7 000, which is a lot for these families given that they depended on the deceased,” she said.
Asked if she agreed with the Public Protector’s report that the department of social development and others had failed the affected hostel residents, Burger said the implicated parties did not only fail the residents, but had lied too.
“They would claim to have done things which they did not do for the community. They held meetings in no-go areas where not even half of the affected communities could attend,” she testified.
The commission’s hearing is in progress.