From: A Crime Against Humanity - Analysing the Repression of the Apartheid State edited by Max Coleman

In Chapter 8 we examined the emergence of a strategy of destabilisation alongside talks during the year from July 1990 to June 1991. It took the ANC up until April 1991 to fully recognise the tactic and to react to it by threatening to withdraw from all talks unless and until the government addressed the political violence. To emphasise the ultimatum, mass protest occurred throughout the country in May 1991.

The present chapter covers the second year of destabilisation (July 1991 to June 1992), which showed little abatement, if any, in the levels of violence but some shift in the patterns. Instead of the open massive forays from the hostels that characterised the first year, the violent events decreased in individual magnitude while increasing in frequency. For example, the number of incidents recorded went up by 63% for more or less the same number of deaths (over 3000 for each year) while the number of major massacres reduced from 34 to 15. This second year was also characterised by new and insidious forms of terrorising township communities, such as indiscriminate train attacks (accounting for 227 deaths) and attacks on busses and taxis (another 119 deaths). Assassination of political figures by unknown hit squads jumped from 28 to 96. But vigilantism remained the major source of political violence and even this was supplemented by alliances with notorious criminal gangs such as the Three Million Gang, the Black Cats and many others.

Mass protest, a national strike (November 1991) and international condemnation had the effect of forcing the Nationalist government into a national peace accord (September 1991) and the start of formal negotiations at CODESA I (December 1991) and CODESA II (May 1992). The second year of destabilisation, however, closed on a disastrous note, that of the appalling massacre in Boipatong (June 1992), which precipitated the withdrawal of the ANC from negotiations as an expression of their profound mistrust of the real intentions of the government. Nevertheless, it was a year in which apartheid power was beginning to run out of options and its continued survival was placed in question.

This chapter is based on the following appropriately titled special report: 'Checkmate for apartheid?' (August 1992)

Another feature of this particular document is its analysis of which the stakeholders are in apartheid power and what contribution they make to the 'third force' in their struggle to maintain and preserve that power.

A special report on two years of destabilization July 1990-June 1992
HRC, August 1992

Part 1. The record of destabilization

1.1 The toll of death and injury

1.2 The record of the security forces

1.3 The record of the vigilantes

1.4 The record of the hit squads

1.5 The record of the 'right wing'

Part 2. Destabilisation - the indictment

2.1 Centres of destabilisation 1 2.2 Acts of destabilisation

Part 3. Apartheid survival strategy

3.1 Structures and stakeholders of apartheid power

3.2 Threats to apartheid power

3.3 Evolution of apartheid survival

3.4 The chances of survival


South Africa has entered into the last stages of a struggle that may be likened to a hard-fought game of chess. On the one side it is a struggle for the survival of Apartheid Power, on the other a struggle by the majority population to emerge from the shadows and take its rightful place in the sun. At times, the movement of millions of people has been part of the play to arrange the pattern of the board to the liking of one of the players. At other times, pieces have disappeared from the board without trace or have been dealt with in many ways, which are not to be found in any internationally accepted book of rules. While the game has essentially been fought on a black-and-white checkerboard pattern, growing numbers of white knights (and bishops) have joined the side of those struggling for liberation. Simultaneously some black pawns have allowed themselves to be co-opted onto the side of Apartheid Power in the hope that they might become kings, or at least continue to live in their castle. The game has gone badly for Apartheid Power, and in the last two years it has been fighting a bitter rearguard action in which thousands of black lives have been sacrificed. It is a play called Destabilisation. It was tried in Namibia and it failed. We believe it will fail here, and soon. Checkmate is nigh.

Part 1. The record of destabilisation


The 2-year record of political violence contained in this report is drawn from 24 monthly issues of the HRC Area Repression Report, comprising the following:

• 2166 incidents from July 90 to June 91 (Year 1)

• 3534 incidents from July 91 to June 92 (Year 2)

• A total of 5700 incidents for the 2-year period.

1.1 The toll of death and injury

The death count

The month-by-month death count for the 2-year period is depicted in Fig. 16. Politically related deaths recorded by HRC amounted to a total of 6229 or an average of 260 per month or an average of 8.53 per day. Year 1 accounted for 3190 deaths while year 2 accounted for 3039 deaths, or a small reduction of 4.7%.

The early months of the period are highly significant. July 1990, although numerically a low month, signalled the start of the violence outside of Natal, particularly in the PWV region (Pretoria, Witwatersrand, and Vaal) and coincided with the launch by Inkatha of a national political party, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). August 1990 witnessed simultaneously the suspension of the armed struggle by the ANC in the Pretoria Minute of 6 August, and the full emergence of Inkatha onto the national stage from its previous base of Natal/KwaZulu. That month over 700 people died, 570 of them in the PWV alone; these are figures, which have not been remotely approached since. However, in the last 4 months deaths have again reached horrifying levels, at an average of 366 per month, even more than the level of the 4-month period of August to November 1990.

The injury count

During the 2-year period, HRC recorded injuries inflicted on 11 888 persons. However, it is suspected that this is a very conservative figure, since many injuries would go unreported. Also it is impossible to assess how many of these injuries were so serious as to produce permanent disability.

Sources of the violence

The HRC discerns 4 sources of political violence, which impacted on communities throughout the country during the 2-year period, namely:

1. Security force actions 352 deaths (5.7%)

2. Vigilante-related actions 5060 deaths (81.2%)

3. Hit squad attacks 126 deaths (2.0%)

4. Right wing attacks 44 deaths (0.7%)

In addition there were incidents responsible for 576 deaths ( 9.2%), around which there was insufficient information to determine a source; and a small number of definable actions not fitting into the above categories, responsible for 71 deaths (1.2%).

It is abundantly clear from the above statistics that vigilantism is by far the dominant factor in the carnage. It is no exaggeration to say that vigilantes have been the shock troops of community destabilisation.

Regional analysis of the violence

During the 2-year period the Natal region accounted for 32.2% of deaths, the PWV region for 58.9%, and the rest of the country combined for only 8.9%.

Natal/ region

The violence in Natal dates back to long before the present 2-year period. It has its origins in the rapid development of country-wide popular support for the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) from 1984 onwards, a development which did not bypass Natal, and which was perceived by elements within Inkatha as a threat to Inkatha dominance in the region. That perceived threat intensified further when the ANC was unbanned in February 1990. Insofar as the current 2-year period is concerned. Fig. 16 shows that the month-by-month death count in Natal has been remarkably stable. In year 1, there were 1004 deaths and in year 2, there were 1004 deaths, producing a total for the period of 2008 deaths or an average of 84 per month.

PWV region

During the 2-year period, the PWV region recorded 3670 deaths or an average of 153 per "* month. By contrast with the pattern in Natal, the month-by-month death count in the PWV region shows very considerable fluctuation, from as low as 13 in February 1991, to as high as 570 in August 1990. Clearly it is the PWV region which is responsible for the ^ on/off character of the overall monthly death count referred to previously.

Other regions

The fact that all other regions of South Africa outside of Natal and PWV account jointly for only 8,9% of all deaths, is an indication of the relative freedom of these areas from vigilantism and of the relative unity of the communities in these areas. There are, however, some exceptions:

• Vigilante groups sometimes with aligned criminal gangs were active in Eastern and Western Transvaal, often combining with police to oppose consumer boycotts, etc. or with mine security to attack mineworkers.

• Nearly half the deaths reported in the Western Cape were linked to the complex 'taxi-war'.

• The OFS region was plagued by the activities of a vigilante grouping known as the 'Three Million Gang'.

Major massacres

Amongst the 5700 incidents monitored by the HRC over the last 2 years, there were 49 ^ incidents in which 10 or more people died and which the HRC has classified as major massacres. The first massacre occurred on 22 July 1990, at Sebokeng in the Vaal, around the launch of the Inkatha Freedom Party in the area and can be said to be the event which opened the floodgates of violence in the PWV region. The latest massacre on the list was the infamous Boipatong massacre of June 1992, which occurred but a few kilometres away from the first.

The 49 massacres accounted for 1250 lives, or 25 deaths per massacre on average. In 15 cases the death toll was higher than 25. Natal accounted for 11 massacres costing the lives of 167 persons while the PWV accounted for 38 massacres costing the lives of 1083 persons.

The victims of the violence

First and foremost amongst the victims of the violence that has swept the country have been the ordinary residents of black townships. White communities have physically been virtually untouched, and were it not for their newspapers, radio and TV screens they would hardly be aware that their black neighbours have been dying at the rate of over 250 per month for the last 2 years. Some of the violence has been targeted at specific groups or individuals active in the political arena but more and more of the violence seems to be totally random and indiscriminate with the only possible motive being to cause alarm, despondency and terror as a destabilising tactic. This is designed to discourage involve­ment in political activity. Some typical victims in both categories are analysed below.


Commuters travelling on trains, buses and taxis have been coming under increasing attack and are daily being exposed to the danger of losing their lives while simply travelling to and from their places of work.

Train attacks in particular are taking a terrible toll of deaths and injuries during attacks in stations, on trains and being thrown from trains. The record of deaths and injuries in train attacks is as follows:

• Year 1 67 deaths and 284 injuries in 16 incidents.

• Year 2 227 deaths and 566 injuries in 230 incidents.

• Total 295 deaths and 850 injuries in 246 incidents.

In the second half of year 2, train attacks accounted for over 10% of all deaths, an indication of urban terrorism of a special kind. One particular train attack ranks as a major massacre. This was the incident starting at Jeppe Station in Johannesburg on 13 September 1990, which resulted in the slaughter of 21 passengers.

Bus and taxi attacks have appeared as a new form of terrorism supplementing the attacks on trains. In year 2, there were 27 attacks on buses, killing 53 and injuring 126; and 45 attacks on taxis, killing 66 and injuring 104.

In summary, 346 commuters died during year 2, representing 11.4% of all victims.

Women and children

Given the random and indiscriminate nature of many of the attacks on the community, it is not surprising that women and children should figure amongst the casualties. Whilst some of them may be ascribed to 'cross-fire' situations, there is no doubt that many have been deliberate and in cold blood. The records for year 2 show the following:

• Women 189 deaths and 227 injuries.

• Children 106 deaths and 87 injuries.

• Total 295 deaths during year 2 (close on 10% of all deaths).

In the Boipatong massacre, 25 out of 46 deaths were women and children.

Township communities

In reviewing the records of deaths and injuries within township communities, it is possible to determine from the reports the affiliation or location in the community of 50% of the victims. For the rest there is insufficient information to identify the victims. Within the identified victims, the records show the following for year 2:

• IFP/Inkatha members, supporters and occupants of Inkatha controlled hostels
Deaths - 234
Injuries - 306

• ANC members and identified supporters
Deaths -274
Injuries - 310

• Township residents
Deaths - 979
Injuries -1165

Thus, IFP victims account for 15.7% of the dead and 17.2% of the injured, while ANC and residents account for 84.3% of the dead and 82.8% of the injured.

Within the list of 49 major massacres over the 2 years, ANC and residents were the victims in 40 massacres, IFP supporters in 3 massacres, while in 6 massacres it was not possible to determine which party was the victim and which the attacker.

Security force members

In recent months, members of the security forces have increasingly fallen victim to political violence. During year 2, HRC recorded the following casualties incurred by the South African Police (SAP): 65 dead and 175 injured in 197 incidents. Figures recently released by the minister of law and order claim a higher figure of 97 deaths since January 1992. In addition, HRC recorded casualties incurred by the South African Defence Force (SADF) as follows: 3 dead and 104 injured in 8 incidents.

1.2 The record of the security forces

The security forces of the apartheid state include the South African Police (SAP), South African Defence Force (SADF), homelands police such as the KwaZulu Police (KZP), homelands armies, municipal and council police and other parastatal law enforcement entities.

Actions by the security forces, which impact upon township communities, are of 2 general kinds:
1. Actions which have the force of law under security and related legislation which apart

from providing powers of arrest also provide for the use of force that may lead to injury and even death. 2, Actions, which fall outside of the law.


Incidents involving overt actions by security forces were recorded by HRC as follows:

• Year 1 - 881

• Year 2 - 909

• Total - 1790 incidents

This represents 31.4% of all incidents recorded and is a high level of involvement.

Deaths and injuries

Deaths attributable to the security forces over the 2-year period, are as follows:

• Year 1 - 238

• Year 2 - 114

• Total - 352 deaths

The marked decrease in deaths in year 2 is indicative of the pressures put upon the security forces by public and even judicial criticism of their heavy handed approach to mass protest and demonstrations.

Injuries inflicted by the security forces show a similar pattern:

• Year 1 - 2248

• Year 2 - 1033

• Total - 3281 injuries

However, it should be noted that the level of injuries is extremely high, with the security forces accounting for 27.6% of all injuries, against 5.7% of all deaths.

The security forces have been directly responsible for, or directly involved in a number of massacres:

• SAP for the deaths of 12 in Daveyton on 24 March 1991

• SADF for the deaths of 11 in Sebokeng on 4 September 1990

• SADF for the deaths of 12 in Esikhaweni on 11 April 1992

• KZP for the deaths of 18 in Umlazi on 13 March 1992


Arrests made by the security forces are a good barometer of the state's response to political resistance in the form of mass action of all kinds, such as protest marches, demonstrations, industrial action, boycotts, etc. Arrests are of course a precursor to the use of the courts to curb political activity, and are an expression of repressive legislation. The very extensive use made of the powers of arrest during the last 2 years can be seen by the following statistics:

• Year 1 - 8211

• Year 2 - 8725

• Total - 16 936 arrests

Unlike deaths and injuries, arrests by the security forces are on the increase, and are likely to accelerate further in the present climate of mass action. Over half the recorded arrests during year 2 were attributable to security force intervention in civic, labour, political and educational protest.

Unlawful actions

Apart from the 'legitimate' actions of the security forces as described above, the record abounds with allegations of unlawful actions perpetrated by the security forces during the 2-year period. Such unlawful actions run the full spectrum from acts of omission to acts of commission; from neglecting to act in performance of their proper and expected duties, to engaging in activities falling outside the law. Most of these alleged acts relate to security force involvement and complicity in vigilante attacks on township communities and are discussed in Part 2 of this report.

Foreign mercenaries

The 'dogs of war' which South Africa has inherited from the disintegration of colonial Southern Africa, including the Selous Scouts of Rhodesia, Koevoet of Namibia and elements of RENAMO and UNITA from Mozambique and Angola respectively, have in many cases found their way into the security forces to be formed into 'special' units such as the 32 Battalion. They have been used extensively in township patrolling, in spite of the fact that their training for lethal warfare makes them totally unsuited to a peace-keeping task. In this context their role is highly suspect.

1.3 The record of vigilantes

Vigilantism in the South African context arose directly out of the formation of homelands administrations and black local councils as essential components of the grand design of apartheid. Those willing to participate in these puppet structures found themselves isolated from the vast majority of the black communities in which they were located. In order to defend their vested interests against the hostile rejection of their undemocratic authority, they formed private 'armies' of vigilantes drawn from traditional and conservative elements, from the unemployed and even from criminal gangs. This develop­ment is known to have received tacit, and then active, encouragement of the apartheid state as an essential component of the total strategy of the Emergency years, which served also to promote the image of 'black-on-black violence' at no political cost to the government.

Vigilante groups started making their appearance in several parts of the country in the mid-1980s, the most prominent and sustained of these groups being elements, primarily 'war-lords', from within Inkatha. Inkatha-supporting vigilantes bear the prime responsibility for the spread of vigilantism in Natal during the 1980s and in the Transvaal during the 1990s.

The initial targets of vigilantes have been community structures, organisations and individuals that were vocal or active in calling for the dismantling of homelands and black councils; but subsequently, during the general destabilisation period of the last 2 years, the targets have become much less selective and tactics have switched to indiscriminate terrorising of township communities.


Incidents involving vigilante-related actions were recorded by HRC as follows:

• Year 1 - 884

• Year 2 - 1898

• Total - 2782 incidents

These figures indicate a strong upward trend in vigilante-related activity.

It must be noted that in reporting vigilante-related actions, the HRC includes not only attacks by vigilante groupings, but also retaliatory or pre-emptive measures taken by the affected community in a vigilante-initiated situation.

Deaths and injuries

Deaths attributable to vigilante-related actions were recorded as follows:

• Year 1 - 2640

• Year 2 - 2420

• Total - 5060 deaths

This represents 81.2% of deaths from all sources for the period and emphasises the pre-eminent role of vigilantism in the political death toll, and of vigilantes as the shock troops of destabilisation.

Injuries attributable to vigilante-related actions were recorded as follows:

• Year 1 - 4077

• Year 2 - 3186

• Total - 7263 injuries

The total represents 61.1% of injuries from all sources.

1.4 The record of hit squads

Evidence of the existence of professionally organised and trained hit squads stretches back to the 1970s, but it was only in the dying days of the 1980s that hard evidence came to light to confirm what had been suspected for a long time, namely, that these hit squads were the creation of the state, located within, trained by and financed by the state structures of the South African Defence Force, Police and National Intelligence Service. Before and during the States of Emergency, the state-based hit squads performed a designated role within the total strategy guided by the National Security Management System under the control of the State Security Council. Their activities encompassed South Africa, the Southern Africa region and the world beyond. Numerous hit squad entities have been identified and exposed thus far and doubtless there are others still to come. What is certain, however, is that the activities of organised hit squads continue to this day, in whatever modified or assumed form.

Hit squads are characterised by the clear possession of expertise in the use of weapons, explosives, chemicals, etc. and their ease of access to resources such as information, equipment, bases and funding. In contrast to the use by vigilante groups of widespread and indiscriminate terror to achieve their ends, hit squads are highly focussed in their objectives, which are to eliminate identified and designated political opponents, and to cripple or disrupt targeted organisations.

The record of the 2-year period July 1990 to June 1992 shows the manner in which these 2 specific objectives are currently being pursued by hit squads in their present role of contributing to the onslaught on township communities.


Incidents involving hit squad actions were recorded by HRC as follows:

• Year 1 - 99

• Year 2 - 126

• Total - 225 incidents

Deaths and injuries

Deaths attributable to hit squad strikes were recorded as follows:

• Year 1 - 28

• Year 2 - 96

• Total - 124 deaths

Most of the deaths are, in effect, successful assassinations, whilst the rest of the deaths are family members, friends or associates caught in the firing line. It is clear that the trend is drastically upwards.


Over 100 of the victims listed of hit squads over the past 2 years are clearly identifiable as belonging to the anti-apartheid camp. Of these, 87 were officials, members or supporters of the ANC and its related organisations, 9 were members of civic associations, 4 were trade unionists, 5 were members of the PAC. Eleven victims belonged to the IFF.

In addition a disturbing new trend is the assassination of witnesses and of participants in peace accord structures. Within the list are to be found 6 witnesses (or their relatives) who were assassinated before they could give evidence; and at least two persons who were active in dispute resolution committees.

Finally, note should be taken of the practically non-existent record of success in solving these murders and bringing the perpetrators to book.

1.5 The record of the 'right wing'

The 'right wing' in the present South African context can be described as the residue of apartheid supporting whites left over after the National Party and government opted for a reformist strategy. It consists of the Conservative Party and a proliferation of extra-parliamentary groups bitterly-opposed to the abandonment of legalised apartheid and comprises about one third of the white population or about 5% of the total population.

Within this residue there are militant elements, perhaps amounting to 1% or less of the total population, which are prepared to resort to violence to express their opposition. While some of this violence is directed at white groups supporting reform, the vast majority of actions are targeted on the black community and for that reason are included in this report.

In general there are 2 categories of right wing violence, the one involving semi-spontaneous and indiscriminate acts by individuals or small groups driven by emotional anger; the other organisationally based and involving planning and marshalling of resources.


Incidents involving right wing actions were recorded by the HRC as follows:

• Year 1 - 93

• Year 2 - 114

• Total - 207 incidents

Such incidents include the bombing of buildings and attacks on people.

Deaths and injuries

Deaths attributable to right wing attacks were recorded as follows:

• Year 1 - 21

• Year 2 - 23

• Total - 44 deaths

Injuries were as follows:

• Year 1 - 246

• Year 2 - 101

• Total - 347 injuries

This represents a high injury rate relative to the number of deaths.

Prosecution of perpetrators

An extraordinary feature of right wing attacks has been the diligence with which the state has investigated them and the extremely high rate of success it has had in making arrests and obtaining convictions. What the reasons are for this outstanding display of political will is not clear but what is clear is that the capacity and ability exists for the solution of crimes of political violence.

Part 2. Destabilisation - the indictment

There are 2 centres of power in South Africa that both have a common interest, each for their own reason, in ensuring that the liberation struggle does not succeed in reaching its objectives. The one is the Nationalist government with its extensive security establishment, the other is the KwaZulu homeland. Both have over the years spawned mechanisms of destabilising the liberation struggle because it represents a threat to their ambitions, and this identity of interests has taken them along parallel, if separate, paths.

2.1 Centres of destabilisation

Nationalist government

The Nationalist government cannot be considered apart from its security establishment, since it has the full authority for its control through the relevant departments and ministers and for determining overall policy through the State Security Council and the former National Security Management System (now called the National Co-ordinating Mechanism); it must also accept ultimate responsibility for any actions undertaken by the security forces.

The government is also responsible for the security and related legislation, which determines the parameters within which the security forces are able to operate at an overt level. Furthermore, it provides the funds for their operations and this would include the very considerable funds for secret operations not open to parliamentary or public scrutiny. Government cannot distance itself from involvement in destabilisation tactics carried out by their security forces.

It should also be pointed out that the government has a long history of practising destabilisation of its neighbours in the Southern African region by methods ranging from armed intervention through full-scale invasion, commando raids, abductions and assassinations, to the creation and support of surrogate forces, to the use of political and economic pressures designed to create dependency on South Africa. The heavy interference in the process towards Namibia's independence by promoting the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance and emasculating of SWAPO, was a precursor, a rehearsal, of what was to come when the Nationalist government was to turn its expertise in destabilisation inwards on its own population.

The Security establishment

While nominally under the control of the government and its cabinet, the security establishment is widely perceived as a force within a force, with waxing and waning fortunes. During the total strategy era spanning the States of Emergency, its star was in the ascendancy and the State Security Council was the body, which effectively ran the country, completely overshadowing parliament and even the cabinet. After economic collapse began threatening about the time of military defeats in Angola in early 1988, the securocrats were obliged to agree to a shift in strategy and found themselves taking a back seat while the withdrawal from Angola and Namibia was being completed. The unbanning of their former enemies and the commencement of talks in early 1990 was a bitter pill to swallow but probably viewed by them as necessary measures to be followed in due course by others.

The considerable involvement by the security establishment in the destabilisation of the last 2 years raises the question as to whether it was doing the bidding of the Nationalist government along the lines of a carefully orchestrated plan, or whether it has been the prime-mover in the process and has been dragging a more or less passive government behind it, or even running away with the process. Regardless of the answer, final accountability rests with the government.

The security establishment has 3 component parts: South African Police (SAP), South African Defence Force (SADF) and National Intelligence Service (NIS).

South African Police (SAP)

Overt units of the SAP include the normal uniformed police attached to police stations around the country; the Internal Stability Units (ISU) formerly known as the 'Riot Police' and generally wearing camouflage uniform; and the Crime Intelligence Service (CIS) incorporating the security police.

Covert units uncovered so far include the 'counter-insurgency' section Cl based at security police headquarters in Pretoria and operating from bases such as 'Vlakplaas' and 'Daisy'. These were exposed by 'Askari' Almond Nofomela and commander Captain Dirk Coetzee in late 1989 as having a long involvement in political assassinations. More recently, a national network of covert structures was admitted to by the SAP after the discovery by the Weekly Mail in May 1992 of such a structure operating in the Vaal Triangle, involving the targeting of political activists.

South African Defence Force (SADF)

Overt units of the SADF, apart from the conventional forces, include special forces such as Reconnaissance Regiments 1,2,4, and 5, and Battalions 31 and 32 all of which perform roles beyond purely military matters. They also include Military Intelligence (MI) with a strong reputation for playing a political role.

Covert units of the SADF are also only acknowledged by the authorities as and when they are exposed. The existence of the complex network of the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) was only revealed in late 1989 after being in existence for several years and its 'disbanding' in August 1990 was unconvincing. Numerous activities involving assassinations, abduction, arson, etc. by the- CCB have been alleged or revealed prior to and during the Harms Commission of Inquiry. A more recent expose has been that of the 'Hammer' units which have operated in the Eastern Cape and in the Witwatersrand. One such unit has been implicated in the assassinations of the Cradock Four in 1985. In addition, numerous front organisations posing as private companies have been exposed by the Weekly Mail as operating in conjunction with Military Intelligence.

National/ Intelligence Service (NIS)

The NIS is seen as the strategising wing of the security establishment but little is known of

its operational role in the destabilisation of the liberation movement.

The KwaZulu homeland

Ever since its establishment in 1970, the KwaZulu homeland has exercised a destabilising influence on the course of the liberation struggle. Besides contributing to the division of the country along with the other homelands, an animosity towards the democratic movement (which gathered strength in 1984 around resistance to the tricameral parliament) was allowed and encouraged to develop within Natal. A territorial war for political influence ensued which continues to this day. It is a war, which spilled over onto the national stage in July 1990, a few months after the unbanning of the liberation movements, which raised longer-term threats to the continued existence of the KwaZulu power base.

Inkatha-supporting vigilantes

An extremely powerful culture of vigilantism, strongly opposed to progressive thought and activism particularly on the part of the youth, emerged as a reactionary force against the growth of the democratic movement in Natal during the 1980s. One of the earliest manifestations of this vigilantism was the 'lesson' inflicted on the students of the University of Zululand on 29 October 1983 when an impi of 500 Inkatha-supporting vigilantes descended on the University at Ngoye, killing 5 and injuring many more because of their intended boycott of an Inkatha rally. Similar vigilante groupings formed around influential warlords rooted in conservative traditionalism emerged in many parts of KwaZulu/Natal, and constituted the foot-soldiers of the War against the encroachment of the democratic movement that swept the rest of the country from 1984 onwards. They were to become the shock troops in the destabilisation of the liberation movements after their unbanning in February 1990 but now their field of operation extended beyond KwaZulu to encompass many parts of the country, in particular the Witwatersrand/Vaal area.

KwaZulu Police (KZP)

Although properly part of the security establishment, the KZP serves 2 masters. Since its establishment in 1980, it has continued to inherit more and more police stations and areas of jurisdiction from the SAP and its current commissioner is General Buchner, seconded from the SAP in November 1987. At the same time it has fallen under Inkatha control from which it is now virtually indistinguishable, especially in terms of allegiance. The KZP role in destabilisation is restricted to the KwaZulu area.

Hit squads

Strictly speaking it is unnecessary to distinguish hit squads as another centre of destabilisation as their existence has already been noted within the ranks of security force structures. This location has long been suspected and now been given ample confirmation by the revelations which began spilling out in November 1989. These revelations are now almost a daily occurrence. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that more or less professional hit squads have emerged quite recently from backgrounds outside of the security forces but possibly with training and resources originating from within the security forces in some cases. These include vigilante-based hit squads, freelance hit squads and right wing hit squads.

Vigilante-based hit squads

A current trend in vigilante activity is generally away from large-scale swoops, towards small group, highly lethal, shock attacks in trains, taverns, night vigils, buses and homes. Such attacks indicate the existence of well trained, well-resourced squads, which have had a remarkable record of making their getaway and concealing their identity.

Freelance hit squads

There are undoubtedly some criminal or mercenary hit squads in circulation whose services are for hire. What is less certain is who would avail themselves of, and pay for, such services.

Right wing hit squads

There is ample evidence that hit squads formed within the ranks of the right wing have been active. However, these have seldom shown a high level of professionalism and have in any event not in general been directed towards consciously destabilising the liberation struggle. One possible exception was the parcel bomb killing of computer consultant and ANC supporter Nicholas Cruse on 2 October 1990 by 3 members of Orde Boerevolk who, however, claimed that the SAP was implicated.

2.2 Acts of destabilisation

Role of the Nationalist government

The role of the Nationalist government in destabilisation has been one of failure, omission and neglect. First and foremost, it has failed to use its security forces to put a stop to the violence, something they have the duty and the capacity to do. In particular, it has neglected to secure hostels against their use as launchpads for violence, in spite of undertakings to do so and in spite of recommendations by the Goldstone Commission. Similarly, it has failed to secure trains against attacks and only after the deaths of nearly 300 victims and a train boycott, are the authorities beginning to take their first hesitant steps towards securing the rail transit system.

The government has vacillated on the issue of carrying dangerous weapons in public, including 'traditional' weapons. At first, in August 1990 the laws relating to traditional weapons were actually relaxed. Subsequently under pressure, the Dangerous Weapons Act Was amended but is often not enforced. The present unclear position is that a ban on the carrying of all weapons is only in effect in unrest areas (of which there are none in Natal, where such a ban is most needed). All this despite the highly increased potential for violence which accompanies the carrying of traditional weapons in public and despite the recommendations of the Goldstone Commission 'that the carrying of any dangerous weapons in public should be outlawed - whether in respect of political meetings or at any other place.'

Another area of neglect is the failure to take meaningful steps towards transforming the security forces from an army of internal occupation with a war psychosis into structures which are accountable to the communities they are supposed to serve; or in the words of the Goldstone Commission 'transforming the police force into a body that has the confidence, respect and co-operation of the vast majority of the people of South Africa'. The retention and continued use of repressive legislation such as the Internal Security Act and Public Safety Act is a serious omission; the declaration of unrest areas serves little purpose other than to antagonise township residents and add to their insecurity. One of the causes of violence ascribed by the Goldstone Commission is 'a history over some years of State complicity in undercover activities, which include criminal conduct'. Failure to reveal and halt this activity is another serious omission.

The continued use of foreign mercenaries within the ranks of the security forces is another area of neglect. Such units (e.g. 32 Battalion, Koevoet, etc.) should have been disbanded long ago and their members returned to their country of origin or, at the very least, confined to barracks pending their demobilisation by an interim government.

Role of the security forces

The role of the security forces in destabilisation needs to be examined at 2 levels - the level of overt official operations and the level of covert extra-legal activities.

Overt official operations

The official role of the security forces and the reason for their existence is supposed to be the protection of the population and preserving the peace. The fact that over 6000 South African citizens have died in political violence over the last 2 years, with twice that number injured, is a measure of the extent to which the security forces have failed in their duty. This failure can be ascribed either to inability or to passive complicity or to active promotion of violence or to combinations of all three. In relation to the first possibility, the Waddington Report on police investigations into the Boipatong massacre of June 1992, found them to be 'woefully inadequate' and 'incompetent', and suggestive of 'an unaccountable police force.' Complicity aside, the nature of security force behaviour at an official level frequently confirms an active promotion of destabilisation and violence beyond the 'legal limits'.

The Security forces have in the last 2 years been responsible for 350 deaths, nearly 10 , times that number of injuries and almost 17 000 arrests.

Security forces have frequently been engaged in operations, some of which fall under the category of massacres, in which 'excessive force' has been used and which have drawn the criticism and condemnation of various commissions of inquiry. Some of these are:
• Sebokeng, 26 March 1990. Police actions against demonstrations in the area resulted in 12 deaths and 281 injuries. A judicial commission of inquiry conducted by Judge Goldstone found the use of police violence as 'immoderate and disproportionate' and made reference to 'an attitude of unconcern for the lethal nature of their ammunition and for the consequences of its use. This is an attitude no police force should tolerate.' The prosecution of a number of policemen involved was recommended but well over 2 years later, the trial has not commenced.
• Sebokeng, 4 September 1990. SADF members opened fire without warning on a group of people, some seated, at Sebokeng hostel, killing 11 and injuring many others. Justice Stafford, who conducted a judicial inquest, criticised the SADF internal inquiry as a 'whitewash' and recommended prosecution of SADF members on 4 counts of murder and 10 of grievous bodily harm against people posing no physical threat. No trial has yet taken place.
• Daveyton, 24 March 1991. Police opened fire on a gathering of ANC supporters in an open field, killing 12 and injuring 37. Justice O'Donovan conducted a judicial inquest, describing the incident as a 'slaughter', finding excessive use of force and recommending prosecutions for murder and culpable homicide. The attorney general declined to prosecute.

• Carletonville, 1990. The Welverdiend Unrest Unit of the SAP in the Khutsong district of the Western Transvaal was implicated during 1990 in the harassment, torture and killing of Khutsong township residents and activists. In July 1991 a police investigation was ordered into the 'ongoing allegations of irregularities'. Several policemen have been suspended, the unrest unit was disbanded in December 1991 and a number of trials are in progress.

• Phola Park, 8 April 1992. Members of 32 Battalion of the SADF attacked the Phola Park squatter camp and were accused of misconduct including assault and rape. A Goldstone commission of inquiry concluded that the members had acted in a manner entirely inconsistent with their peace- keeping function, had been guilty of unjustified violence and that the battalion should not be used for peace-keeping duties anywhere in South Africa. The response by General Meiring of the SADF was that 32 Battalion would be deployed as and where needed. During evidence, an officer of the Battalion said the existence of a 'war-type situation' justified the use of force.

The above are but a few examples of the 'war-psychosis', which seems to guide many security force units and personnel in their behaviour.

Covert operations

Covert operations of the security forces are now well known and no longer occasion much surprise when new facts come to light. The Goldstone Commission comments that in our recent history '[government has failed to take sufficiently firm steps to prevent criminal conduct by members of the security forces' but misses the point that such conduct is condoned within deliberately created covert structures. The practically non-existent record of solving the long catalogue of political assassinations is a product not so much of the lack of firm steps, as a desire and interest in avoiding disclosure. How much more there is to be disclosed is difficult to estimate but in the meantime the increasing frequency with which political assassinations occur is evidence of the continued existence of such covert operations and refutes claims that they have been disbanded. The following evidence, incidents and allegations are relevant:

• The assassination toll over the last 2 years has been 124 deaths, of which over 100 are clearly identifiable as assassinations of anti-apartheid activists or their families. This is 5 times the rate of assassinations during the years of total strategy.

• The Harms Commission of Inquiry into the activities of hit squads within the security forces confirmed the existence of such squads and that they had been engaged in illegal acts. Nearly 2 years after these findings no prosecutions have yet been brought by the state. The SAP Vlakplaas squad still exists, while the SADF CCB squad, though nominally disbanded, still has unfinished business.

• In a court before Judge Kriegler, General Lothar Neethling, an SAP forensic expert, Was found to be lying to the court about supplying poison to the SAP hit squads for use against ANC activists.
• The Goldstone Commission is currently investigating disclosures by the Weekly Mail that the SADF has been funding and training hit squads for promoting destabilisation and violence in KwaZulu and in Wesselton in the Eastern Transvaal. This has involved the creation by Military Intelligence of a complex national network of front organisations with innocent sounding names, and most of which are still in existence. Training took place in a military base in Caprivi and at the Mkuze camp in a remote area of Zululand.
• Another Goldstone Commission inquiry pending, is one into the conduct of the SAP (CIS division) in the Southern Transvaal in instigating violence. This relates to a further Weekly Mail report that covert SAP units are operating in the Vaal from private property, using false company names, false telephone numbers and false registration plates.
• Yet another Goldstone Commission inquiry found prima facie evidence that 2 SAT members in Schweizer-Reneke had conspired to abduct and assassinate Jerry Maine, chairman of the Ipelegeng Civic Association in November 1991 and referred the matter to the attorney-general. Six months later Judge Goldstone had cause to complain about the tardiness of the police in investigating the case.
• Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo, member of CONTRALESA and ANC sympathise!" was assassinated in Pietermaritzburg on 25 February 1991, shortly after threats to his life. During the inquest, evidence was presented suggesting security police involvement in the attack, while the Weekly Mail claimed to have information linking Mkuze camp trainees to the assassination.
• The assassination of the Cradock Four (Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli) near Port Elizabeth in June 1985 is having reverberations today. On 8 May 1992, the New Nation published information strongly implicating security forces in the murders. It had obtained a copy of a signal message sent from the Eastern Province JMC to the secretariat of the State Security Council proposing that Goniwe and others be 'permanently removed from society as a matter of urgency'. The message referred to a telephone conversation between Brigadier C.P. van der Westhuizen, then commanding officer of Eastern Province Command (now a lieutenant-general and chief of staff of Military Intelligence) and General van Rensburg, then serving on the State Security Council secretariat. Despite a loud outcry, General van der Westhuizen has not been suspended pending a commission of inquiry. Furthermore, a Mr Andre de Villiers, said to be an informant about the participation of the covert SADF 'Hammer' unit in the killings of the Cradock 4, has himself been assassinated. The above samples of covert security force operations are probably but the tip of the iceberg.

Collusion with vigilantes

Over the past 2 years there have been extensive and persistent allegations by to' communities of security force collusion with vigilantes during attacks upon them, primarily from hostels. Furthermore, there have been revelations emerging from press investigations, court actions and commission of inquiry, which give support to these allegations. From HRC records kept during year 2 (July 1991 to June 1992) allegations of collusion were made on no fewer than 92 occasions. Similar allegations were made about 19 out of 49 major massacres. These various acts of collusion may be summarised as acts of omission and acts of commission as follows:

Acts of omission

• Absence from the scene of vigilante attacks or excessively late arrival.
• Not responding to forewarning of attacks or undertakings to protect communities.
• If present, standing idly by, even refusing or ignoring requests to intervene.
• Not countering, deflecting or dispersing attackers.
• Not disarming, arresting or detaining attackers.

• Not charging or prosecuting attackers and refusal to accept laying of charges by injured parties.
•Failure to solve murders, even when evidence is readily available.
• Failure to- remove weapons from vigilante bases.

Acts of commission

• Indiscriminate attacks on township dwellers with teargas, guns, rubber bullets, etc. while defending themselves against vigilante attacks, resulting in deaths and injuries.

• Dispersing, arresting or detaining township dwellers and removing their means of defence.
• Vigilante groups escorted and even transported to and from the scene of the attack.

• Collaboration in the planning and executions of attacks and in the identification and targeting of specific individuals.

• Provision of weapons and other material to vigilante groups.

• Training and funding of vigilante groups.

Some examples of such collusion follow:

• The 'Inkathagate Scandal' in July 1991 uncovered State and Security Force support for Inkatha.

The Weekly Mail disclosed that the security police had secretly been funding Inkatha activities, notably rallies in November 1989 and March 1990 (amounting to R250 000) and the Inkatha aligned United Workers Union of South Africa (Rl,5 million). The government admitted to the allegations, claiming that the former was for 'anti-sanctions rallies' and the latter to 'counter intimidation, illegal activities and related violence on the labour front.'

The Weekly Mail also alleged that Inkatha hit squad members underwent training at an SADF base in the Caprivi Strip in 1986 and that the SADF working through 'front organisations' funded further training at a camp in Mkuze established in 1989. De Klerk admitted SADF involvement in the 1986 training claiming that it was for VIP protection and security purposes. The Goldstone Commission is at present investigating the whereabouts and activities of the 200 persons allegedly trained at these 2 locations, and the operations of so-called 'front organisations'.

On 29 November 1991 the Weekly Mail published evidence of security police funding of a further Inkatha rally at Mzumbe, Natal, in January 1991. The police admitted funding the rally, thereby undermining the claim made previously by President de Klerk that the secret funding of Inkatha had been stopped by March 1990.

• Trust Feeds Trial. In April 1992, Justice Andrew Wilson passed judgement in the now notorious 'Trust Feed' case. Five policemen, including Captain Brian Mitchell, were found guilty of murder. The case arose from the killing of 11 people at a funeral vigil in Trust Feeds, Natal, in December 1988. In the course of the trial it became clear that the context for these killings was an attempt by the SAP in alliance with Inkatha and the KwaZulu police to disrupt the community and oust the established residents' association, thereby enabling Inkatha to gain control over the area.

• Swanieville massacre. On 12 May 1991, a group of around 800 men, widely acknowledged to have been Inkatha supporters, attacked the squatter settlement of Swanieville on the West Rand. 29 people were killed and over 30 injured. According to eye-witnesses, survivors and newspaper reports (Sowetan, 20 May 1991), evidence of security force involvement included police and other unidentified white men allegedly participating in the attack; armoured vehicles escorting the attackers back to Kagiso One hostel afterwards; failure on the part of the police to halt or disarm the attackers. An internal police inquiry found there to be no evidence of police involvement in the attack.

• Boipatong massacre. On 17 June 1992 an attack was launched on the township of Boipatong in which 46 residents were killed. The Weekly Mail (26 June 1992) strongly suggested police involvement in the attack. For example, police failed to respond to warnings of an impending attack and the attack itself was carried out with 'military precision'. The Goldstone Commission discovered a covert Koevoet unit and arms at Greenside Colliery, a Gold Fields mine in Eastern Transvaal. The raid took place after the ANC obtained evidence of possible involvement by Koevoet members in the Boipatong killings. Furthermore, monitoring groups have collected statements testifying to police involvement in the attack. The Goldstone Commission is holding an ongoing inquiry into the incident.

• Ignoring advance warnings of impending attacks on a number of occasions, suggests complicity on the part of the security forces. A prime example of this was prior to the massacre at Sebokeng on 22 July 1990 in which 19 people died. Ample and specific warnings were relayed days before to the divisional commissioner of police, the national commissioner of police, as well as to the minister of law and order.

There can be no doubt that there is an overwhelming perception amongst township residents that the state and its security forces are in an unholy alliance with Inkatha-supporting vigilantes to destabilise township life and paralyse political organisation.

The role of Inkatha-supporting vigilantes

The statistical record

The records in Part 1 of this report show the predominant role of vigilante-related violence in the destabilisation of the last 2 years. This violence has accounted for 5060 deaths out of 6229, or 81,2% of the total deaths; it also accounted for 7263 injuries, or 61,1 % of the total. Such a record justifies the description of vigilantes as the 'shock troops of destabilisation'.


Within this appalling record of violence there are 49 massacres, which have been analysed in Part 1 of this report. Regarding the character of the massacres, a number of points emerge very strongly from the record :
• The drive by Inkatha elements to establish political influence, membership and even territory, is the predominant theme.
• The tactics of extreme terror, used indiscriminately against township communities, to paralyse, immobilise and disorganise, is a complementary theme.

• The use of hostels as bases from which to plan and launch these activities.

• The persistent reports of security force complicity in these massacres, as well as involvement of unidentified whites.

• Retaliation which sometimes produces its own massacres.

Vigilantes as perpetrators of violence

Identifying perpetrators in violent incidents is obviously more difficult than identifying the victims. Nevertheless, reports sometimes indicate attacker identity by describing the emergence from or return to known hostels, wearing of identifying headbands, emergence from rallies, carrying of traditional weapons, chanting and singing, and many other indicators, especially the identification of the target victim.

In this way it is possible to assess the identity of the attackers in 20% of deaths and injuries that have occurred in year 2 (by comparison with 50% in the case of the victims). Within this identified 20% group, the records show that for year 2 Inkatha-supporting vigilantes were responsible for 584 deaths and 940 injuries while ANC and township residents were responsible for 40 deaths and 102 injuries. Thus, vigilantes were the perpetrators in 93,6% of the deaths and 90,2% of the injuries.

By way of confirmation, reference to the list of major massacres shows that of 39 massacres in which the identity of the attackers was assessed, vigilantes were responsible in 31 of these and jointly responsible with the opposing party in another 6 massacres.

The logistics of vigilante violence

The record of the last 2 years shows that one third of vigilante-related deaths has occurred in Natal and almost two thirds in the Witwatersrand/Vaal region. As shown in Fig. 16, the death toll in Natal is remarkably steady from month to month but fluctuates widely in the Witwatersrand/Vaal region suggesting an ability to raise or lower the scale of violence in response to political events or in order to manipulate them. High points have occurred in August/September 1990 after the signing of the Pretoria Minute and the suspension by the ANC of the armed struggle; in December 1990 the month of the ANC Consultative Conference; in May 1991, a month of mass protest about political prisoners, township violence , educational crisis and anti-Republic Day observance; in September 1991 the month of the National Peace Accord signing; and in March 1992 the month of the referendum. Low points have occurred in October 1990 during F.W. de Klerk's visit to Europe; in January 1991 at the opening of parliament; in February 1991, after the signing of the ANC/IFP Peace Accord; and in June 1991 during the failed government-sponsored conference on violence.

Within the region of Natal there are several specific flashpoints, which repeatedly flare up and die down again as the battle for territory rages on. In the Wits/Vaal region the pattern is somewhat different with the epicentre of violence moving from place to place, as if a mobile force were being continuously redeployed.

Hostels as vigilante bases

A number of hostels have acquired a reputation as launchpads for vigilante violence. A commonly repeated pattern has been for Inkatha-supporting vigilantes to 'capture' hostels by driving out non- supporters, instituting a militaristic regime, attacking the houses of | township residents in the area surrounding the hostel, occupying those houses or keeping them empty to maintain a buffer-zone or no-man's-land around the hostel and then using these island bases as launch pads for destabilisation.

One of the most notorious hostels with a long record of terrorising its surrounding j township community was the KwaMadala hostel in Boipatong, whose history culminated in the massacre which cost the lives of 46 residents. Other notorious hostels in the Wits/Vaal area are the Madala and Nobuhle hostels in Alexandra; Mzimhiope hostel in Meadowlands; Kwesini hostel in Katlehong; Sebokeng hostel; Denver, George Goch and | Jeppe hostels in Johannesburg; Siphiwe hostel in Dobsonville; Nancefield hostel in Pimville; Kagiso No.l hostel near Swanieville; Merafe hostel; Jabulani hostel; Tokoza, KwaThema and Vosloorus hostels on the East Rand.

All of these hostels and others have a history of involvement in violence affecting their surrounding areas. Together they constitute a fifth column permeating the entire fabric of township community life in the Wits/Vaal region. In the words of a Goldstone Commission report, 'Hostels are common to most of the worst areas of violence.'

Train massacre

The incidence of train attacks and massacres, which have thus far cost nearly 300 lives, is closely associated with hostels with a proximity to high risk stations and railway lines. There have been numerous instances of attackers being observed withdrawing into hostels and where attackers have been apprehended, invariably their addresses turned out to be in Inkatha-supporting hostels. Train violence is currently the subject of a Goldstone Commission of Inquiry. An interim report of the Commission states 'The violence on the trains cannot be separated from ongoing violence in the townships. The primary causes and participants appear to be the same .. .Wherever a group of attackers was identified they turned out to be hostel dwellers.'

Vigilante linkages

An indication of the centrality, in operational terms, of vigilantes to the destabilisation of townships, is the multiplicity of relationships between them and other entities.

Government linkages are now well known in terms of the historical promotion of Inkatha and other groups as a counter-weight to the liberation movement, involving actual funding as well as other forms of support. Further evidence of government complicity is the almost total lack of success in prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of innumerable acts of vigilante violence. This is in stark contrast to the highly successful record of bringing right wing perpetrators to book, where a strong political will to do so is evident. Security force linkage is extensive and comprehensive in terms of funding, training, material and logistical support and even direct operational support (e.g. as in the Trusts Feeds massacre). Furthermore, there is overwhelming indication of extensive collusion between security forces and vigilantes, both through acts of omission and acts of commission.

Black councils, besides making use of their own vigilante groupings where they exist, have invited external vigilante groupings, such as Inkatha-supporting vigilantes into their areas as a counter to community-based Civic Associations, and in return for a base from which to extend their activities. A case in point is the township of Alexandra (next to Johannesburg), which from July 1990 to February 1991 was totally free of any of violence, which then erupted when such an alliance was struck.

Business interests have availed themselves of the services of vigilantes, both in support of mine security services against striking mineworkers in Transvaal and OFS, and against striking workers in a number of other industries. In addition they have turned a blind eye to the illegal occupation of hostels by vigilantes who have forcibly driven out the legal employee occupants.

Criminal gangs have linked in with vigilantes in their area of operation and preyed upon the political and civic life of the community.

The right wing, in spite of its racial dogma, has made overtures to the black right wing for some form of collaboration but so far nothing official has emerged.

Role of the KwaZulu police

The Goldstone Commission second interim report comments as follows:

The widely held view by a large number of people in KwaZulu and neighbouring areas that the KwaZulu police are a private army of the Inkatha Freedom Party is a matter of great concern in relation to the curbing of violence in those areas. No less disturbing is the evidence that has been given concerning unlawful activities by senior members of the KwaZulu Police.

This statement echoes the findings of a comprehensive report on the KZP compiled jointly by Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and HRC (Natal) in December 1991 to the effect that accumulated evidence strongly indicates that KZP, or at least substantial elements thereof, have entered the arena of the conflict on the side of Inkatha. Based on a large number of case studies, the report lists the following as the most problematic allegations levelled at the conduct of the KZP:

• The perpetration of acts of harassment and intimidation, including shootings and assaults against persons perceived to be non-Inkatha;

• collusion with Inkatha vigilante elements and/or participation with such elements in carrying out acts of harassment and intimidation against persons perceived to be political opponents of Inkatha;

• disruption of political activity such as harassing persons at meetings and other events;

• failure to assist complainants and to investigate matters;

• failure to render or permit medical assistance to critically wounded persons.

The report compiled by the LRC and HRC lists over 120 incidents of unlawful attacks, shootings and/or assaults involving the KwaZulu police. The report also cites at least 54 cases where the KwaZulu Police acted in collusion with Inkatha resulting in the deaths of at least 68 people.

The following incident report implicating KZP in a massacre at Umlazi on 13 March 1992, is an extract from the HRC Area Repression Report:

Durban-Umlazi (13 Mar 92)

18 people, including 15 women and 3 children under the age of 5 (one of whom was decapitated), were killed and 28 injured in an attack on the Uganda squatter settlement. Residents reported that the attack started at 5a.m., when between 100 and 200 KwaZulu police members led 300 Inkatha supporters from Unit 17 in the area and fired at houses, shooting mostly women and children who were fleeing. Another attack was then launched at about 9.30am when 2 KZP vehicles escorted a group of Inkatha men into the area. Residents have alleged that the SAP did not attempt to stop the attack. They also alleged that a SAP presence did not prevent the attackers as when the attackers became aware of a SAP presence, they relaunched an attack elsewhere in the area. Uganda is not part of KwaZulu.

Part 3. Apartheid survival strategy

3.1 Structures and stakeholders of apartheid power

From the moment the National Party came to power in 1948, it set about erecting an edifice of laws and structures designed to ensure the survival of that power for 'all time'. Building on the loose de facto system of racial discrimination that already existed at that point, they rapidly evolved the survival strategy that came to be known as 'grand apartheid'.

While most, but not all, of the laws have now gone, the structures are still with us and the stakeholders in those structures are faced with the decision of whether to cling to their vested interests or abandon them in anticipation of their imminent collapse. A brief examination of these structures of apartheid power is useful in assessing the balance of forces in South Africa today.

The structures are:

Tricameral parliament


Black local authorities

The tricameral parliament

This structure in which central power is vested came into existence in 1984 and elicited widespread protest leading to a State of Emergency. It extended parliamentary representation previously reserved for the white population only, to the 'Coloured' and 'Indian' communities but incorporated mechanisms to ensure that ultimate control still vested in the white house. The population group classified as black was totally excluded and this is still the case 8 years later. Stakeholders with a vested interest in this structure of apartheid power are :

• White voters in general, but in particular the supporters of the National Party, Conservative Party and so-called right wing.

• The National Party government, the primary stakeholder.

• The security establishment within the government whose vested interests are perhaps the strongest of all.

• The civil service who may feel threatened by the disappearance of the tricameral parliament.

• The business community which faces perhaps the greatest dilemma of all, given the fact that they were the prime beneficiaries of apartheid in the past but now have the most to lose in the event of an economic collapse - a likely possibility if apartheid power is not abandoned.

• 'Coloured' members of the House of Representatives.

• 'Indian' members of the House of Delegates.

These last 2 stakeholders have limited support from their own communities and have been heavily criticised for allowing their presence in the tricameral parliament to confer legitimacy on this ultimate symbol of apartheid power.


The homelands concept was an essential component of grand apartheid, intended to provide an outlet for the political aspirations of the black population group and, at the same time, to limit access of the black population to urban areas and to perpetuate the existence of docile labour reservoirs from which to feed mines, industry and agriculture. The homelands structures began to make their appearance in 1970, continuing into the 1980s, in a process that involved the dislocation or forced removal of some 3.5 million people and the loss of South African citizenship by some 8 million people. Present homeland structures are as follows:

'Self-governing' homelands



'Independent' homelands (TBVC states)





Stakeholders with a vested interest in these 10 structures are members of the governments and administrations of the homelands, particularly those who agreed at their inception to participate in and collaborate with the homelands concept. Several of the original players have fallen away over time through coups and similar events. Several of the present players have already declared their hand as being committed to re-incorporation into a unified South Africa and therefore ready to give up their stake in apartheid power. Others, in particular Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, KwaZulu and QwaQwa, seem bent on clinging to their apartheid power and are searching for formulae, involving high levels of regionalism or federalism, which would perpetuate their power even in a new unitary constitution, if that became inevitable. Another stakeholder in homelands structures are those members of the business community who have investments within homelands, particularly in the so-called decentralised border industrial zones, and who have been the beneficiaries of an extraordinary range of incentive schemes. Finally, it must be mentioned that homeland governments in their attempts to impose their authority on, and to defend it against, their unwilling subjects, have spawned not only official police forces and armies but also private armies of vigilantes. KwaZulu is a prime example of a homeland dominated by a powerful police force (KZP) and by a highly developed vigilante element in the form of Inkatha warlords and their impis. It is also a special case in that its ambitions have extended beyond its borders.

Black local authorities

The segment of the population not catered for by the tricameral parliament and by the rural homelands, was the urban black population, which could not be wished away. To address this gap, black councils were introduced more or less simultaneously with the tricameral parliament and this pointed and final exclusion from central power inevitably became the focus of the ire of the urban black population throughout the country.

Elections for black councils were almost totally boycotted; those who accepted office were widely regarded as sell-outs and collaborators; pressures mounted for the resignation of the black councillors and the dismantling of the councils; and the system has largely collapsed in most areas. Nevertheless there are a number of stakeholders in the form of black councillors surrounded by their municipal police force and sometimes by private armies of vigilantes. They clearly have an interest in trying to maintain their last vestiges of power inherited from apartheid by somehow carrying it over into new local government structures that will evolve under a new constitution.

3.2 Threats to apartheid power

Apartheid power today has not one, but two Achilles' heels. Firstly, the fact that over 75% of South Africa's population has no representation of any kind in the organs of central power; and in fact less than 15% have any meaningful representation. This is both a measure of the legitimacy of apartheid power and a measure of the resistance of the overall population to its continued tenure. Massive popular resistance then, is the first Achilles' heel. Secondly, international rejection of a system universally declared to be a crime against humanity has brought about an isolation from the world which has had severe consequences for the economy of South Africa and therefore on the capacity of apartheid power to continue. Since the declaration of a State of Emergency in July 1985 there has been a huge capital outflow from South Africa, totalling 36 billion rand up to the present time, in a country, which requires capital in-flow in order to grow. We are currently in our third successive year of negative growth, with no prospects of stemming the capital bleeding, let alone reversing it, unless the world's financial system can be convinced that South Africa is politically stable and a secure area in which to place loans and investment. The foreign debt still stands at 18 billion dollars (US), having reduced by only 6 billion dollars since 1985, and pressures continue for the repayment of the debt. The pursuit of political stability has thus become an economic imperative and not to address it would mean certain collapse. Herein lies the second Achilles' heel of apartheid power.

In summary, the survival of apartheid power is under threat by 2 irreconcilable forces:

1. Denial of majority rule means continuing political conflict, leading to inevitable economic collapse.

2. Agreement to majority rule means political peace, which will avert an economic crisis but involve the loss of apartheid power.

3.3 The evolution of apartheid survival strategy

Any government, which has managed to hold onto power for 44 years in the face of total rejection by at least 85% of its population, must have equipped itself with highly effective survival strategies. The figure below traces the evolution of apartheid survival strategy in meeting challenges to apartheid power as and when they arose.

The unfolding of the strategy of grand apartheid occupied the years of 1948 to 1984, culminating in the tricameral parliament. Of necessity, it was accompanied by the development of some of the most repressive laws the world has seen, backed up by powerful security forces. Nevertheless, resistance mounted over the years and, reinforced by international rejection, ultimately reached a dimension in late 1984 to early 1985 that forced the Nationalist government to shift into a different level of strategy that became known as 'total strategy'. This was in effect a full-scale war against its dissident population, intended to smash resistance and to impose its will by force. It was formalised in the declaration of a State of Emergency in July 1985, continuing (with a minor interruption) until 1990 and involved the full spectrum of repressive methods including mass detentions and arrests, media blackout, bannings, assassinations, abductions and vigilantism.

However, total strategy turned into a total disaster. Internally, resistance stiffened and the liberation struggle intensified. On the international front, the international financial community withdrew all support and massive capital flight soon placed the South African economy under severe strain.

Crisis point was reached as early as 1988 when the Nationalist government announced that it was disengaging its troops from Angola and was willing to implement UN resolution 435 setting out withdrawal from Namibia. These were the first signs that total strategy was giving way to the strategy of reform, now seen as essential to save apartheid power from collapse. The capital haemorrhage had to be stopped, and the only way was to establish political peace and stability. That meant talking to those whose demands had been ignored for 40 years and who were now in exile, in prison, banned, gagged or underground.

Thus the reform era started to emerge and to head in the direction of the negotiating table. Political organisations were unbanned, political leaders were released from prison and allowed to return from exile and talks were commenced. The first half of 1990 produced some startling advances towards the apparent removal of obstacles in the way of substantive negotiations for a new order.

It was only in the second half of 1990 that the sequel, or the alter ego, to the reform strategy began to appear, namely, the strategy of destabilisation as a companion to negotiation. This is a strategy, which was rehearsed, to some effect, in Namibia in violation of an agreement requiring the South African government to be an impartial administration in the transition process. Within South Africa it was designed to have the same purpose, namely the emasculation of the liberation struggle in such a way as to destroy the capacity of liberation movements from translating their grassroots support into organised political support and ultimately into voter support at the ballot-box. It has involved the heavy hand of the security forces, the naked terrorism of the vigilantes and the sinister stealth of hit squad assassins; and it has cost the lives of over 6000 people so far. It seems also to have run out of control and become counter-productive because the desired effect of reform strategy - to reverse the our-flow of foreign capital - is not likely to be achieved at the current high levels of violence which continue to frighten off foreign investors and financiers. The forces initially unleashed by the apartheid government in this strategy of destabilisation now seem to have taken on a momentum and agenda of their own. Strong and resolute action by their erstwhile master will be necessary to bring them to heel.

The latest, and probably last, chapter in apartheid survival strategy has been unfolding alongside of and within the climate of destabilisation. It is a strategy of negotiation aimed at securing a position of 'power sharing', a euphemism for the retention or prolongation of apartheid power. Instead of agreement to transferring power to majority rule (the essence of democracy), the government and its allies continue to propose formulae of 'power sharing', such as obligatory coalitions, rotating presidency, upper house with veto rights, autonomous regionalism and so on, which would ensure that apartheid continues to control from its grave. Up to this point in the negotiations that have taken place, there is no indication whatsoever that the Nationalist government is ready to abandon minority power in favour of unequivocal majority rule. It is still playing its game of survival strategy, of clinging to power.

3.4 The chances of survival

The further down the track apartheid power has gone, the narrower its options have become. It has been forced by internal resistance and international isolation out of the naked exercise of force and repression, and into the accountability of reform. It has been ensnared, reluctantly, into such structures as the Peace Accord and the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) which commit it to yet more accountability and which limit its freedom of action: Its hopes of an early collapse of the liberation movement's negotiating strength in the face of severe destabilisation have not materialised and it is now trapped into processes of which it is no longer master. The violence is coming under the scrutiny not only of the Peace Accord mechanisms but also of the international community. Negotiation issues, as a result of the collapse of CODESA 2, have now become highly focussed and can no longer be obfuscated by 'power sharing' devices. With all irrelevancies swept aside, the issue of transfer of power to majority rule stands alone. The immediate task is to address the mechanisms for that transfer, and these are clear enough - the installation of a transitional government of national unity and elections for a constituent assembly which will prepare and adopt a new constitution and lay the basis for the election of a new government representative of the majority. It is very clear that the days of apartheid power are numbered, since any genuine election process conducted on the basis of universal suffrage will inevitably reduce the role of the National Party and its allies to that of an opposition party. Numbers are against the possibility of anything more. In a voter pool of 20 to 24 million, voter populations in old apartheid terms are approximately as follows:

• White 13%

• Coloured and Indian 10%

• African 77%

At an estimate most generous to the National Party and its allies, the highest percentages of votes that they could muster in a straight proportional representation contest with the liberation movements would be as follows:

• White . 12% (92% of voters)

• Coloured and Indian 6% (60% of voters)

• African 12% (16% of voters)

• Total votes 30%

The only question marks around the balance of 70% are the unity of the liberation movements and their allies and their capacity to deliver their supporters to the polling booths. Nevertheless, the gap between the 2 blocs is so great that apartheid power would certainly be doomed in a free and fair election contest. To agree to such a contest, would mean the end of the struggle for the survival of apartheid power. That will only happen when the pain of holding on to power begins to exceed the pain of letting go. We are rapidly approaching that point.

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