Women from the Crossroads squatter camp demonstrate outside parliament demanding protection from Witdoek, Cape Town. 1986

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Guy Tillim

Women from the Crossroads squatter camp demonstrate outside parliament demanding protection from Witdoek (white headband vigilantes for the right to rebuild their bent-out hopes). Cape Town. June 1986. The 1980s saw escalating state repression and mass detentions. In a frenzy of desperate reaction, the government declared a series of back-to-back states of emergency from 1985 to 1987. Conflict rose to unprecedented heights and even went beyond black-white unrest, with Inkatha clashing with the ANC/UDF and breaking their ties. Press freedom was restricted; there was turmoil everywhere and South Africa had in effect become a police state.