The Biapotong massacre takes place
Date: 17 June, 1992
During the period of transition and negotiation in South Africa, the core area of the conflict in the late 1980s was in the KwaZulu-Natal area where battles between Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC) raged. In 1989 more than 90% of the deaths occurred here. In 1990 the number of deaths outside Natal and KwaZulu rose from 124 to 1 888, mainly as a result of a fierce political turf battle between the ANC and Inkatha on the Witwatersrand. Hoping to create an aura of normality De Klerk lifted the state of emergency outside Natal on 7 June 1990. Violence escalated. One such violent incident was the Biapotong massacre that took place on 17 June 1992.
Approximately 300 armed residents of the Inkatha-aligned Kwamadala hostel shot and hacked their way through the Black township of Boipatong (Johannesburg), leaving forty-six people dead and scores injured, including women and children. At the time, it was said that the attack was organised by the Third Force, a conservative element of the police force and government colluding with members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) to destabilise the country and disrupt the Convention for Democratic South Africa (Codesa). The IFP and the government denied any involvement in township violence. However, claiming police complicity, the ANC suspended its participation in the negotiations indefinitely and withdrew from CODESA. The African National Congress also blamed the then President, Frederick W. De Klerk, for not doing enough to stop the violence.
Both a court and the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission later could find no evidence that the police were involved, as the ANC claimed.
One of the attackers applying for amnesty for the massacre gave the following reason for the massacre:
"... continual attacks by ANC supporters on anyone with any Zulu or IFP connections led to the decision to plan a counter attack on the nearby Boipatong township".
Read more on Nelson Mandela's suspension of talks with the National Party in the wake of the Biapotong Massacre.
VICTIMS RELIVE BOIPATONG MASSACRE AND IMPLICATE POLICE (1996). South African Press Association. Website: doj.gov.za (from the perspective of the victims)
'Violence spiral' led to Boipatong massacre (1998). Website: Dispatch online. (from the perspective of the attackers)
- Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.
- Hermann Giliomee and Bernard Mbenga. (2007). New History of South Africa. Tafelberg Publishers, Cape Town (pg 397).