Memoirs of Life in South Africa

English 162: Literature and Place (A Queens College Study Abroad Course)

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Blog 11-TRC Testimony

January 28th, 2012 by Talisa Feliciano · No Comments · Uncategorized

The testimony I chose is by Joyce Marubini from the “Women’s Hearings” section.  Joyce Marubini was arrested along with 5 other women.  All of those arrested were part of a youth organization that

Marubini referred to as the “youth league.”  At the time of the arrest Joyce Marubini was the youth organizer of this particular meeting.  The police barged into the church where the meeting was held and shooted at people.  According to Marubini the meeting had not yet started when “they [the police] just started shooting and when I looked around I saw people going out through windows.”

The six women who were arrested were brought to jail.  They were denied water, food, and the use of toilets.  During the night the police assaulted the women with sjamboks “up to the time that our panties were torn and our undergarments were exposed.”  After the night was over the women were sent to court in bloody and torn clothing and were not charged with anything.  They saw a doctor who “found that we were assaulted grievously.”  It seems that they also consulted with a lawyer concerning their treatment at the hands of the police.  After their case was thrown out however, the lawyer did not proceed to file a case with the police and they were denied further treatment from the doctor.

A lot of the basic issues with translation that are discussed in There Was This Goat are apparent in my own reading of this testimony.  For example there are two instances in which the term “to see Mandela” comes up in the testimony.  The first is after the doctor examined them and they were told “if we want to see Mandela, we’re going to see Mandela on that particular day.”  The second is when Joyce Marubini explained why the police beat them:


Ms Seroke: Did you ever ask [the police] as to why you were undressed [during the assault]?


Ms Marubini: Yes, they said they wanted to show us as to where Mandela is and they would tell us as to where he stays and which area he stays, because Mandela is Xhosa.


“Seeing Mandela” and being shown Mandela seem to mean to very specific and different things.  In the transcribed version they seem similar and it is hard to guess as to whether the examining doctor meant this in a negative or positive light.  This situation with word use reminded me of the cultural background and context that the “goat” imagery was explained in the book.  I think my confusion is a similar problem in which I do not understand what is meant by “seeing.”

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