During the 1997 Truth and Reconciliation hearings, 10 people testified about politically related murders, attempted murders and disappearances in Grahamstown during the 80s.
During the 1997 Truth and Reconciliation hearings, 10 people testified about politically related murders, attempted murders and disappearances in Grahamstown during the 80s. Mother's Day brings back the memory of those times every year for the parents of 'Bully' Kohl, killed by police during the State of Emergency.
"I felt his pulse and body and discovered he had really passed away," is how a father, Robert Kohl, described the most terrible moment of his life when police shot dead his eldest son, 28 years ago.
Most people around the country will be celebrating Mother's Day this Sunday but the Kohl family will remember how on this day in 1985 their precious son was cruelly taken away from them.
Alliston "Bully" Kohl was born in Grahamstown on 21 April 1968. He attended school at Good Shepherd Primary, George Dickerson Primary and Mary Waters.
On that fateful day Bully attended the funeral service in Joza Location of a Nyaluza Secondary School comrade who had earlier been killed by the police.
Robert and his wife Cecilia Kohl did not know that their son was going to attend the funeral, because he'd slept overnight at his cousin's place on Trotter Street. On Sunday he came home at 11am and soon left again with his cousin and school friends.
At 1pm the Kohls were watching the funeral parade moving toward the graveyard between Joza and Tantyi Location. Helicopters were hovering over the mourners – but fortunately they did not throw any tear gas canisters into the singing and shouting crowd of mourners and children.
After the funeral, mourners and police clashed when police tried to prevent the mourners from walking down a particular street.
Around 2pm James Hillier and Gerry Accom, two Mary Waters Secondary School teachers, stopped in front of the Kohls' gate. Robert and Cecilia hoped the teachers would be bringing good news – but they could see on their faces it was not. The shocking message was, "Your son has been shot and killed."
Robert was stunned speechless. His wife let out a long scream.
He could not believe what had happened – how could it be that two hours ago he was alive and now he was dead? He had to see for himself, so that he could understand what had happened.
Robert explains, "I decided to go to hospital and there I saw him personally and I felt his pulse and body and discovered really he has passed away.
"But no tears escaped me at that particular time."
The next day Robert and local priest, Father Titus, went to the police station on New Street to report the death of his son. They were escorted under the staring eyes of all the people at the station to the commander's office.
They talked for a while and the station commander conveyed his condolences and agreed not to have a police presence in the area during the week of the funeral. He also agreed not to have policemen in the Eyre Street and Vergenoeg area until all the mourners had left on the Saturday of the funeral.
Robert said, "Then a week later, tears flooded from my eyes, as I began to miss him at home."
His son had barely turned 17.