5.1 The Socio-Economic impact of Vigilantes and Political Violence

It would be an oversight to discuss vigilantes and political violence in KwaZulu-Natal without paying attention to the implications thereof, be it economical or social. It should be noted that although vigilantes might have played a role in the socio-economic development of KwaZulu-Natal, it is virtually impossible to state that everything happened as a result of vigilantes' activities. It should also be said that vigilantes and political violence played a role both in hampering and deepening the spirits and lives of many people in KwaZulu-Natal. Nonetheless, they were a cause for concern for the livelihood of the people of KwaZulu-Natal.128

After the lifting of the state of emergency in March 1986, political violence and vigilantism continued to erupt in the KwaZulu-Natal region. It was wrong timing on the side of the Government to lift the state of emergency so soon after it was instituted in July 1985. This blindfold attitude by the Government was believed to be the reason behind the attacks on innocent people. The lifting of the state of emergency also had a serious economic impact on KwaZulu-Natal as a region. Looting by vigilantes was the order of the day. Many shop-owners closed their shops due to the looting. This created a situation whereby many business people in the area had to suffer serious losses as a result of political violence. Others decided to move their businesses elsewhere, which was a serious blow to the economy of KwaZulu-Natal.129

Competition for land constituted another basis for vigilantism. This also resulted in more violence. Those who were without land used all means to secure some land, often in a violent manner, in order to try and generate some income from the produce of the land. Furthermore, those who received land from a chief traditionally owed him military loyalty. In rural KwaZulu-Natal, these military obligations fed the ranks of the vigilantes, whom the IFP then sent to the towns to cause political disruption. Thus, vigilante activities were causing a lot of turmoil. Citizens in KwaZulu-Natal wanted land, and as a result, they had to conduct some form of vigilantism. Their actions were hampering the region economically. Despite the fact that those who were loyal to the chief were given land, they still received it on the basis of political issues. Chief Gideon Zulu also politicised the giving of land by stating that those who belonged to the ANC were assumed traitors to the Zulu nation. As such, they could not be given land to farm.130

The 1991 Inkathagate scandal, which was politically orientated, produced a cascade of revelations on the extent of the collusion between the South African Government, the IFP and the vigilantes. It was alleged that the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature and the IFP were the most significant beneficiaries of this endeavour. The main aim of the training of IFP security officers was to thwart any threat the ANC could have posed to the IFP as a party, and therefore KwaZulu-Natal as a region. It was disclosed as has been noted before that in 1986, a force of 150 IFP soldiers were given military training by the special South African forces in the Caprivi in Namibia. Many of the security forces were later involved in IFP attacks on the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. Despite strong denials from the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature and the Government, the fact remained that it was a waste of taxpayers' money. It was alleged that those who were sent to Namibia for training were part of the joint agreement between the Government and the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature to offer strong security measures to the KwaZulu-Natal homeland. However, it was just a political ploy aimed at bolstering vigilantism, thus covering up the use of taxpayers' money and the funding that the KwaZulu-Natal homeland received from the Government.131

In 1987, the United Workers Union of South Africa (UWUSA) was established as a working organisation under the control of the IFP. It was alleged that UWUSA was established as an alternative union to COSATU, which was believed to be an ANC organisation. It was also alleged that the reason behind UWUSA's formation was for the IFP to have its own workers union, so that it could win back its supporters who were affiliated with COSATU. The IFP believed that COSATU was instilling ANC ideologies among the IFP supporters. Furthermore, the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature funded UWUSA. This was another political ploy that was draining KwaZulu-Natal economically. Members of UWUSA were the most likely ones to be considered for jobs in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, despite the fact that some of them were unskilled for the jobs they were supposed to do.132

Academics like Chabani Manganyi blame poverty and unemployment suffered by the people of KwaZulu-Natal as being the causes of political violence and vigilantism in the region. According to Manganyi, these two elements were manifested in the bloody conflict between the IFP and the UDF/COSATU alliance that had crystallised in KwaZulu-Natal since 1986. The UDF alliance and its affiliates were regarded as a threat to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature and the IFP. Every new move or campaign of the alliance was met with hostility, which at grassroots level often took a violent turn. Those mainly involved in the ensuing bloody strikes were workers and youths. The KwaZulu-Natal conflict was a serious challenge to the economy of that region; hence the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which also threatened the autonomy of the employees and the hierarchy of the IFP.133

In 1987, Buthelezi made a miscalculated comment, that should any member of the IFP be attacked, and then the IFP would have no option but to retaliate, since it would be the deeds of the ANC and the UDF. This further contributed to the hostile political situation in KwaZulu-Natal. After this comment, daggers were all out for both ANC and IFP supporters in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. The comment was regarded by many that Buthelezi was calling for vigilantism against the ANC and UDF, should any member of his party be attacked. It implicated that UDF and ANC supporters were the masterminds behind the killing of IFP supporters.134

From the early days of violence, people had been alleging that the SAP, although present in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, had not been present in areas where violence was occurring. The SAP cited difficulties that they had to contend with, such as poor roads, lack of streetlights, etc. The difficulties cited by the SAP did not appear to have affected both the IFP and the ANC/UDF communities equally. There were instances where the SAP was called upon to help and they arrived within a blink of an eye, or so it was alleged. The SAP were often accused of playing political games in deciding which areas of violence they had to attend to as quickly as possible. In IFP controlled territories, it was alleged that the SAP even brought expensive equipment from Pretoria in order to assist the IFP supporters, bearing in mind that some of the equipment needed special care and service. The political game that the people were playing in the name of combating political violence in KwaZulu-Natal was therefore costly to the Government, and thus also to society.135 In 1988, mass destruction occurred in KwaZulu-Natal when citizens went on a rampage, destroying buildings and shops. This created economic woes to those who had invested in KwaZulu-Natal. Big businesses and Government institutions were the most affected. Politically, the SAP were said to be IFP members in their hearts. This was the version of Father Tim Smith, who stated that he had personally called in the riot police to stop an attack in Elandskop. However, when the police arrived, it was alleged that they continued assisting the attackers to hunt down UDF supporters, either to arrest them or make them disappear from society.136

In 1988, the Amasinyora gang in Durban joined the IFP. Its members subsequently received weapons and training from the SADF and the SAP. In March 1988, a Pietermaritsburg security policeman bought 24 guns for local IFP leaders, which were later linked to two dozen attacks. In August 1988 and early 1989, discussions between Buthelezi and a senior Durban security policeman on ways to stop the IFP's shrinking support led to Government funding of IFP rallies in November 1988 and January 1990, which were followed by a wave of violence.137 Millions of Rands were lost every time IFP rallies were held.

In November 1988, the SAP swooped on a UDF meeting called to discuss the violence. Twelve UDF members, including two delegates to the talks, were arrested. At the time the UDF claimed that more than 200 of their members in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands were in detention, whereas no members of the IFP were being detained. The UDF claimed that it was a political ploy by the SAP and the Government to arrest more of its members in order to weaken the party, so that the IFP could gain more ground in the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal. The UDF claimed that the Government wanted the IFP to remain in power, so that its mandate and wishes could be carried forward in KwaZulu-Natal.138 The political violence that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal in 1990 after the calling of a strike by the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) had a detrimental effect on the economy of that region. The one week stay-away called for shops to close down as a token of solidarity for the students. This led to constant clashes between the SAP and students. Full-blown violence ensued and people were not allowed to purchase anything from the shops. Those who insisted on opening their businesses were met with the cruelty of the youth. In Umlazi, Government buildings, schools and buses were the target of the striking youth. This action took the KwaZulu-Natal region backwards, so that a strong economic injection would be needed to put all structures to normal position again. However, the action of the youth scared off potential investors and business people in the KwaZulu-Natal region.139

The counter accusations between the ANC and the IFP on the role of the Government in the violence and vigilantism in KwaZulu-Natal also caused another political strife. The IFP stated that the Government was aiding the ANC and the ANC alleged that the IFP was top priority for the Government. The ANC went a step further and alleged that the taxpayers' money was used to pay soldiers and to buy equipment to sponsor the IFP in the fight against the ANC. The Government was therefore accused as the instigator of political violence in order for the IFP to conduct their vigilante activities.140

The appointment of General Jac Buchner in 1990 as Commissioner of Police in KwaZulu-Natal led to more violent attacks and the believe that Buchner had a strong link with the IFP. It therefore came as no surprise when Buchner defended a lot of the vigilante activities that the IFP was accused of. IFP members could even make derogatory statements in public, like if any member of the IFP was killed; ANC and COSATU members should be hunted down and killed also. Buchner in his capacity as Commissioner did not to make the IFP retreat from what they had said. Henceforth, no efforts were made to reconcile the hostile political situation in KwaZulu-Natal. These utterances by the IFP were bad news for the political violence that seemed to continue without end in KwaZulu-Natal.141 Dough Hindson and Mike Morris, both social scientists, argue that the roots of vigilantes and political violence in KwaZulu-Natal lay in the economic structures created by apartheid. Therefore, the breakdown of apartheid had given rise to competition for scarce resources in KwaZulu-Natal. In March 1990, Democratic Party (DP) Regional Director, Radley Keys, testified to the Douglas Commission that the Government as creator of the homelands was compelled to support the IFP. DP member Peter Barnard in turn stated: "Considering that the violence in our townships has gone on for so long, I don't believe that the police are interested in the return of law and order. They seem more interested in supporting the party they want to be the ultimate winner".142 Barnard believed that it was for reasons like this that the Government found itself involved in illegal activities in KwaZulu-Natal. Barnard believed that the Government was spending unnecessary amounts on vigilante activities that were politically orientated, rather than doing something that could have prevented the loss of life in that region, which was fast becoming a war zone.143 In July 1990, a petition was handed to the Pietermaritzburg district commissioner's office by the regional chairperson of the ANC, Harry Gwala, during a march to protest against security force action. He claimed that the SAP in KwaZulu-Natal had been clearly and systematically acting as the IFP's private army in the conflict. No wonder vigilantes, particularly IFP vigilantes, found enough room to operate in carrying out violence.144 The petition accused the Government of deploying soldiers while using taxpayers' money to preserve the legitimate activities of vigilantes and political violence. On 2 July 1990, workers responded to a call by the ANC and COSATU for a nationwide one-day strike to protest against the continuing carnage in KwaZulu-Natal. The organisers pleaded with the Government to help end the violence that was dividing KwaZulu-Natal along racial lines. The dismantling of the nominally self-governing KwaZulu-Natal Legislature was another thing the workers called for. This spearheaded the region into further chaos, as there were still factions that wanted to hang on to power. As such, the call was a serious provocation. This chaotic situation seriously affected the economy of KwaZulu-Natal.145

As discussed earlier in Chapter 2, a report on the violence in Richmond in 1992 stated that a number of allegations had been made regarding SAP activity in a massacre at three different locations on 23 July 1991, in which 16 people were killed. These included claims that two 4x4 SAP vehicles had offloaded heavily armed people near Townlands, where one of the attacks had occurred, and that SAP members in camouflage jackets participated in the attacks. The report also stated that spent cartridges and some live ammunition had been found at the scene of the attack. All were ARMSCOR manufactured R1 rifle rounds. While the shooting was taking place, a resident of Ndaleni, Pierre Cronje ¢ , contacted the SAP about the activities that were going on. The SAP's answer was that all was well. However, the following day it was discovered that a countless number of ANC supporters were maimed or made to flee with their families. Most of the victims identified the SAP as being the instigator of the violence. It should be noted that the SAP was being sponsored by the Government; hence the Government was using taxpayers' money to finance political violence and vigilante activities in KwaZulu-Natal.146

There was much circumstantial evidence that Government money was used in KwaZulu-Natal to execute dirty tricks. In August 1991, a former sergeant in the SADF, Felix Ndimene, provided information about such activities. He claimed that his regiment was used as the organisational base for mass killings aimed at communities supportive of the ANC, and that they were paid nicely for their efforts. He further stated that 120 Regiment soldiers based at Phalaborwa (his own regiment) were used in attacks. Ndimene claimed that his regiment was a breeding ground for vigilantes, and was used as perpetrators of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal. There was also ample circumstantial evidence of Government financial support for vigilante groups. It was furthermore alleged that the violence in KwaZulu-Natal was part of a Government security strategy aimed at disempowering black communities and weakening support for the ANC, while helping more conservative or moderate black movements to mobilise within the black communities. In a way, the Government was involved in the conflict of KwaZulu-Natal politically.147 Worst was to follow in 1993 after the announcement of the date of the upcoming national election in 1994. Vandalism was the talk of the day. Political violence and vigilante activities reached an all time high. Many people lost their lives. There was even fear that the elections in KwaZulu-Natal could be postponed. The other reason why hostility was at an all time high was the refusal of Buthelezi's IFP to take part in the election without the presence of international observers prior to the election. His refusal culminated in the loss of blood of many citizens in KwaZulu-Natal.148

5.2 Conclusion

The political violence and vigilantism that were taking place in KwaZulu-Natal was a cause for concern for the society. These two aspects were having a serious impact on the South African society, and particularly the people of KwaZulu-Natal. Attacks usually took place in KwaZulu-Natal irrespective of who orchestrated them; hence it resulted in lots of homeless people and refugees. People were not safe in their own yards. Innocent people were the victims of circumstances because they were caught in the fire of political violence. Those who suffered the most were the disabled, women, the elderly and children149. Vigilantism and political violence created a further burden for KwaZulu-Natal, based on the fact that the youth of the region were going to grow up being irresponsible. The reason was that they would learn nothing positive from the political violence and vigilantism, besides carrying out the negativity of the two aspects. Henceforth, political violence and vigilantism gave birth to an illiterate youth whose future was doomed failure before it even started. These youths were not going to bring about any positive change in the society; their input was always going to be irrelevant since their thinking capabilities would be limited only to fighting. Political violence and vigilantism were affecting the youth to such an extent that it was hard to accommodate them.150

Political violence and vigilantism were creating an intolerant society in KwaZulu-Natal. It was going to be difficult for the youth to mix with others in the society not according to political lines. The people of KwaZulu-Natal and the youth were against change, due to the fact that they wanted to maintain the status quo. There was also a lot of political intolerance, even among family members, due to different beliefs. Children were becoming orphans at a tender age due to the vigilante activities and political violence. The latter two aspects were creating a situation whereby the society was no longer interested in the services of the SAP and the Government. In KwaZulu-Natal, people were just taking the law into their own hands, because they had lost trust in the justice system. Innocent people became the victims, because they could not defend themselves against vigilantes.151

Another social prejudice was directed at reporters, particularly from the media in KwaZulu-Natal. People were denied access to crucial information due to the banning of media reporting on vigilantism and political violence. People could not be informed about their well-being or safety. The most worrying aspect was that they could not be made aware if their community or village was going to be attacked at night. The way people were losing their lives and their loved ones in KwaZulu-Natal was a misery that could not be forgotten in the history of that region. Vigilantes were killing randomly for political and personal gains. Political violence was causing many destitute families. Breadwinners were taken away from their families, leaving them with no means of support; not even Government subsidies for the deceased's families. For example, when the vigilantes attacked Willie Ntuli's family in KwaMakutha152, they showed no mercy, not even for the innocent children. It did not cross their minds that those who were left behind were going to suffer for a long period of time, since their breadwinner was also killed. This goes to show how ruthless vigilantes in KwaZulu-Natal acted. Nowhere was anyone safe in the region. In fact, socially the lives of the people of KwaZulu-Natal were doomed due to vigilante activities and political violence.153


P. Van Niekerk, Middle ground laid to waste.New Stateman 114(2), 1987, p. 12.

C. Charney,Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, pp. 4-5

C. Charney,Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, pp. 10-11.

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, pp. 2-3; C. Charney, Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, pp. 11-12.

A. Minaar,Patterns of violence: Case studies of conflict in Natal, p. 3.

N.C. Manganyi,Political violence and the struggle in South Africa, pp. 155-156.

F. Meer (ed.),Resistance in the townships, p. 139.

F. Meer (ed.),Resistance in the townships, pp. 10-11; A.J. Jeffrey, Spotlight on the disinformation about violence in South Africa.South African Institute of Race Relations, pp. 38-39.

R. Carver,KwaZulu-Natal, continued violence and displacement, pp. 19-20.

C. Charney,Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, p. 16.

F. Meer (ed.),Resistance in the townships, pp. 14-15.

N.C. Manganyi,Political violence and the struggle in South Africa, pp. 155-156.

N.C. Manganyi,Political violence: A case study of conflict in Natal, pp. 3-4.

N.C. Manganyi,Political violence and the struggle in South Africa, p. 95.

As quoted in A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, p. 10.

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, p. 10.

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, p. 10.

Keesing's Record of World Events, Mass protest over increasing Natal Violence, 2 July 1990, p. 37600.

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, pp. 101-102

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, pp. 46-47.

C. Charney,Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, p. 5.

C. Charney,Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, pp. 6-7.

C. Charney,Vigilantes, clientalism and the South African state, p. 17.

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, pp. 13-14.

See Chapter 2, p. 12.

A. Truluck,No blood on our hands, pp. 89-90.