Ma Mashinini's TRC Testimony

In her moving testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Tsietsi's mother tells of how she lost her job following Tsietsi's disappearance into exile. Accused of being a communist, she was detained for 197 days, but that didn't stop the search for her son.

"Tsietsi left in September. When he left in September my other children followed, and when they followed the police wanted to - I mean they said we are recruiting for military training; that is why our children have gone out. I tried to explain that they have gone out of the country because the police are terrorizing the children in the house. That is why they went out of the country. That is true; I was telling the real truth.

"I lost my job because they said we are communists; no company should take us. I was detained for 197 days. I was in Standerton - in Standerton Prison. My husband never knew where I was until two months before I came out. It's then that he started visiting me, but I could not see him because they did not want me to meet my family. He used to bring me food. The greedy police used to take my food and eat it and give me a loaf of bread only.

"The raids never stopped and informers who tell lies because they wanted money. They would tell the police that we saw Tsietsi - Tsietsi is in the house. Now they would come, open wardrobes, they wanted to find Tsietsi under the beds, under ballpoints, under a watch, under everything, searching for Tsietsi, and Tsietsi would never be there because he would never come, he would never come."

- Mashinini, V. TRC Hearings on Human Rights Violations: Soweto. 22 July 1996.

back to the Tsietsi Mashinini memorial page

"I, Tsietsi Mashinini, appeal to students to report back to school."
Tsietsi Mashinini, 1976
Picture © British Thames Television


In this lesson plan, learners are asked to think about how the different people in their lives would describe them. They are asked to reflect if they think that their caregiver or teacher would say the same things about them as their best friend. They will apply their insights on differing perspectives to historical sources such as newspapers and letters.

Lesson plan
You′ll need the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader to view these lesson plans. Download it here.
Archive Photo Gallery
Images from the short life of Tsietsi Mashinini.
Artwork Photo Gallery
Five views of the Tsietsi Mashinini memorial
The concept for the memorial
Johannes Phokela discusses the development of his concept for the memorial to Tsietsi Mashinini
Take a 360º tour of Mashinini's memorial opposite his former high school on Mputhi Street, Soweto.
Audio Slideshow