|Title:||Violence and political action in South Africa: five comrades speak|
|Publication info:||Ann Arbor, Michigan: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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Violence and political action in South Africa: five comrades speak
Evanston, IL: Program of African Studies, Northwestern University
no. 4, pp. 1-3, 10-11, 13, 1992
|Author Biography:||Adam Ashforth is a member of the Political Science Department of Baruch College, CUNY, and was a 1991-1992 fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in the African Humanities at Northwestern University.|
INTERVIEWS: Violence and Political Action in South Africa: Five Comrades Speak
Interview with five young Comrades on the fighting at Merafe Hostel (Soweto) [August 16-19, 1990].
Phiri, Soweto, Monday August 20, 1990; 1 pm.
Because of the sensitive nature of this material, respondents are identified only by the letters A-E. M.M. and M.C. are additional interviewers.
Q: August 20th, 1990, interview with young comrades about the violence in Soweto over the weekend. Perhaps we could start by asking what caused the fighting last Thursday?
A: Yes, so I can answer that question. The fight started on Thursday in the morning, at half past four, when our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters were to the train for working and the Inkatha members started to attack them. Some were killed, some were injured. Then at nine o'clock we had to come back from schools to defend those houses next to the hostel and the police were there and started to disperse us with tear gasses and rubber bullets and so on. Then we had to run away, come back to make sure that those people won't come back to destroy our houses. So we had to protect those houses and fight against Inkatha.
Q: Why were the people attacking in the first place? Why were the hostel people attacking the residents?
B: I think they don't see which people they attacking, they only attack people living in the location. They say they are Comrades. So they attack our parents when they were going to work, and they came back. At the lodge (?) of Meadowlands, they attacked the students who are at the school. Then we came back from school, then we leave at about nine o'clock and we go there next to the hostel to defend those houses. So the police were also there but they fire tear gas only to the comrades, not to the Inkatha members.
Q: So the police were there to protect Inkatha?
Q: Does anyone know why Inkatha attacked first?
C: I can say Inkatha members attacked first because they were members of Inkatha who say Comrades are insulting their Chief Mangosotho Buthelezi. That's why Inkatha members were attacking Comrades.
Q: Why did they choose last Thursday morning to launch the attack? Why last Thursday, because people have been attacked quite a lot, haven't they?
D: I think they choosed last Thursday because in some of the areas where there are hostels, they have started many days have past, so ... in our area it wasn't started, that is why they started on the Thursday.
C: And I think that many people were not prepared for that thing which happened on Thursday.
Q: It just happened?
A: And many people were not aware that the Inkatha members should attack them just because they were travelling from their houses to work. And it was early in the morning, so they entered inside the train and they started hitting people ... others they fell down, others they were running away inside the train while the train was moving.
Q: Do you know anyone who was on the train, on that train when it was attacked? Did you speak to anyone who was attacked?
E: They didn't attack one train. Many trains were attacked. We can call one who was attacked in the train. Because not only one train was attacked. And some of the people we know they say the Inkatha members came but they able to run away.
B: There are others which we know them, but which they were attacked before, not on Thursday. Those that were attacked on Thursday they are still at the hospital just now.
Q: So the people on the train were attacked because the Inkatha people thought they were comrades, or were they just attacking any residents?
B: No they know very well, just because inside the trains they are ANC members; there are many inside the train just because most of the time they used to sing early in the morning in the trains and when they come home from work they sing. So they saw that if ever they can attack the train they should make a good job, just because what they've done is a thing which they were prepared to (have) done. So they tried to attack the train before, even on Thursday they attacked inside the train.
Q: Because they knew that they would find comrades in the train?
B: Yes. And they knew very well that they would tell their members, their Inkatha members that 'we will attack' so they must not go there, then they could get their big chance to attack the train.
Q: So it was all planned in advance?
C: I can say that that thing was planned and was advance to their members.
Q: Were you all at school when you heard about the attack?
E: No. When this happened, it happened early in the morning. I was asleep. When I woke up I didn't think to go to school because I knew very well that maybe they can attack some of those schools. But some of the comrades they did go to school.
Q: So what did you do; how did you find out about the attack?
E: My brother was inside the train which came in next, not the train that was attacked, and he didn't go to work. He came back home and told this thing that had happened.
Q: So what time was that?
E: About to seven. It was to seven.
Q: So did you go down to the hostel? Were the comrades from the residents called?
E: No. He tell us that this next train they tried to go back and fight with Inkatha, but they were dispersed by the police.
Q: So did you then go down to the hostel and see what was happening there?
E: No, I didn't. We go late, at about half past six.
Q: Where were you when the attack happened?
C: I was very asleep.
Q: When do you first find out about the attack?
C: About half past eight in the morning.
Q: So did you go down and see what was happening?
C: Yes, I went at about past eleven. And there was plenty of policemen there, enough to go right to the hostel.
Q: Can I ask you where you were?
B: No I went there after I heard the attack. Then when I went from here to the station I found there were police, but when I see the police were there to maintain order, but in the other way they were protecting Inkatha members. Then I found there were people who were dead right on the main line train. Those people were, I should think the others were stabbed with knives, the others they were pushed out of the train while the train was running. Then I went again to Inkhlazane, when I found at Inkhlazane I found that there were other people who were dead there and the police were protecting the Inkatha members when the Inkatha members were right inside, they were next to the hostel. And there were people who were trying to rush and fight back to the Inkatha, so they didn't afford, so the police they tried to stop them.
Q: What time were you down there?
B: I should think I'd left around here by about a quarter past eight. Then I think it was something to nine when I was at Merafe station, next to the bridge, Molapo bridge. Then I went again to Inkhlazane at about past ten, to eleven.
Q: So you actually saw the bodies?
B: Yes, I actually saw the bodies.
Q: And how did you find out what happened? Who told you what had happened?
B: My older sister when they come back, they told me that no, the train was attacked by the Inkatha members so people were running away. So then I said, no let me go and see what was happening. So then I went there.
Q: Did anyone try and call together the comrades from this area to go down and fight in the morning?
B: We go there, but not at Jabulani. We go to Merafe. Because the fight occurs at Jabulani. So we collect our comrades to go to Merafe station where there is a hostel, but not at Jabulani, because even at Jabulani there is a hostel next to Inkhlazane station.
Q: So what time did you go down to Merafe?
B: It was at about eleven. Some of us came at about twelve, we were not going at the very same time. Then we go there back again at about six o'clock in the evening.
Q: What happened then?
B: The police were also attacking us, firing the tear gas to us not to the Inkatha members and we were unable to reach the inside the hostel because they were firing us.
Q: So there were attempts to get into the hostel?
B: Yes we attempt but we couldn't.
A: When we try to get inside to the hostel they started to shoot. And when ... er; the hostel dwellers came out from the hostel to attack us they just moved them back to the hostel; they don't shoot. When we tried to get inside they started shooting. Then we had to run away, then come back later on.
Q: What time did you come back?
A: Just ... er ... I went there at about half past ten. Then I found comrades, and they were guarded by police. Then we had to chant slogans there. When we singing slogans, they started, the hostel dwellers chanting also, then they tried to attack. When they tried to attack the police do what they do to try to push them inside.
Q: How far apart were the groups? Were you meeting on the soccer field there or behind the houses?
A: Yea, others were behind the houses, others were in the soccer field.
Q: And the Inkatha men, were they still inside the hostel, or were they out in the field?
E: They were out, but there is a road separates the two soccer fields, the one in the hostel and the one in the other side. We were in the other side.
Q: And they were in the soccer field on the hostel side.
Q: So the police were on the road?
E: Yes, but they were towards us.
Q: Because earlier in the day the police had been right around the edge of the hostel, hadn't they? They'd kept all of that area open.
A: And when we were in the soccer field, the police called our delegates to talk with both Inkatha and the comrades. And we saw that there is nothing to talk about. And we started to move some things to close the road so the police don't move around.
B: The time they were trying to talk, our delegates and the Inkatha delegates together with the police. then the police they ask why we want attack the hostel, the Inkatha members. And we told them, these members of Inkatha they have already attacked our people, inside the trains and they have killed them. So that's the thing that has caused us to go and attack the Inkatha members. So they said, 'we can't allow you to go and attack those people, so the thing which we can do we can just call one colonel or the station commander from Protea police station. So they have just said to us they'd call and he didn't come at the very same time. Then we wasted about 4 hours. Then after, he came ...
Q: This was night now or during the day?
B: It was midday. He took a long time to come. Then we talked to him, he asked again us the question which we were asked, he said, 'now tell us why are you all the time trying to attack these people.' We said 'these people, we have just ... we were not in the emotion of attacking them, so we were just trying to attack them because they've attacked our people, and our fellow comrades. And they've killed our comrades, so this is the thing which has caused us to attack them. So then he said 'what can I do for you to, to ... so that I should stop this thing.' We say 'if ever you can take some vans or panel vans and take these people far away from here so that we should, we can close the hostel so that should be better, then the fight maybe should stop? He said, 'OK I'm still going to find out the trucks and I'll come and fetch these people and take them out.' Then we said to him 'No, sign here,' and they didn't want to sign down. Then they just go and then they came back again and said 'no, the trucks will come at about three o'clock'. And so before ...
Q: Three o'clock in the afternoon?
A: In the afternoon.
B: So the trucks they didn't come and fetch those people and we wait there the whole day. We were busy chanting slogans. So the trucks they didn't come, then while we were waiting there, he came again and ask, 'why these people we wanted to attack them.' We said 'no, yesterday we were here, we tried to attack these people, you stopped us and you said you maintain order around this place, so at night these people they've came again ...'
Q: This was Friday afternoon that you're talking about?
B: It was Friday afternoon, and Saturday midday. So these people they came again, they attacked our people early in the morning at about three o'clock on Saturday morning. When they've attacked our people, they've burned their houses, they've killed others, then you said yesterday you'd maintain order around the place. Then he said 'no, the main thing I don't know what happened.' So we saw the government, the South African police is no more a good, er, security, just because those people at about twelve o'clock, one o'clock, I should think they just disappear around the place at about half past two or when. Then the Inkatha members just came out and attack our people and burn many houses.
Q: So all those riot police that had been there during the day just disappeared?
B: Just disappeared. And ...
Q: Was anyone there when they left?
E: I can say that they just disappeared because most of the houses opposite with the hostel were burned, so where were the police?
D: In fact what they did these police, when we were standing in front of those houses they tear gas us, they shoot us with bird shots, rubber bullets so that we can disperse. Some of comrades were injured in that time. So, when we run away they leave those hostel dwellers to come out. They came out—it's only about fifteen metres from hostel to the houses near the hostel, so they came out with petrol, they burned those houses. The police are not there, the police are chasing us. That is why now we see that these policemen are also supporting Inkatha. Because they don't protect houses and they don't protect the residents, only protect the Inkatha members.
Q: Were any of you guys there during Thursday night when the fighting was going on late?
D: Yes, I was there.
Q: So you saw ...
D: I saw, because we were there watching those hostel dwellers so that they would not launch an attack towards the residents. We wait there from about half past three. Some of our comrades they stay there, some go and eat at their homes, and they came back. So we wait there from eleven o'clock in the morning until the next day watching those guys that they must not attack.
Q: Did you see the police pull out? Because there were about a hundred riot police there in the afternoon, and then you say that they disappeared at night at about two o'clock.
B: No I think that late, at about one o'clock we were inside one of the houses which was next to the hostel. So those police they were there and they were moving around the hostel. So while we were around that house while we look outside the house the police were still there. Then we stay there. At about three o'clock we hear this petrol hitting the front window. Then when we tried to get out we found that those Inkatha members were just around now, then we run away just because we were too close with them. Then when we came back after the fight started then. People were fighting. We were fighting against the Inkatha and the Inkatha was fighting against us. So there were no police, I should think the fight took about one hour thirty minutes, then the police came later. But I should think that if the police were maintaining order they should be around at about twenty minutes, just because there's a police station next to the, just near there.
Q: This was the fighting you say at three o'clock?
B: Yes, that one at three o'clock.
Q: Three o'clock on Friday morning.
B: Friday morning.
Q: So what was it like in the middle of the night fighting, I mean you must have been ... How were you fighting, what was going on? It's dark, how do you tell who to fight?
B: No it was dark, we try to fight against those people because we were trying to protect our residence just because those people they were ready to fight. So we were not ready to fight with, we were just, we like just to be next to those people so that we should see that they were not attacking what they are attacking (?) So they started attacking then we fight with them.
Q: Did you have any weapons?
Q: Did you have any weapons?
All: Yes, we were carrying the Assegais.
A: Sort of weapon.
D: And guns.
A: Even guns, others carried guns. Petrol bombs. And we used ... in fact, here in the residents, we say to the people who were in the location switch off the lights, the outside lights so that if the policemen come around they won't see us carrying those weapons. In fact they saw us on Thursday in the midday carrying our weapons. So they ask us to disarm our weapons. We thought that we can't disarm our weapons because those people they carry their weapons and the police didn't day nothing to them to disarm their weapons. Even they disarm their weapons we saw that we can't disarm, because the police they say that even in Thokoza, the police said to the residents of Thokoza, 'no we will talk to the Inkatha members that they should disarm their weapons and you disarm.' So the residents of Thokoza disarmed their weapons, so the police take those weapons and give them to the Inkatha members. So the Thokoza residents they have no weapons now, then they started to attack when the police were not there. So we realised that we can't disarm.
Q: Did the police try to disarm any of you?
E: But some of us were disarmed by the police. They told us 'no the police have taken our weapons.' But here no one was disarmed by the police.
A: Others were arrested.
I.M. So, comrades, I wanted to know, it was in the dark, so how do recognise each other, even the lights were switched off so it was dark.
D: In our side, we saw that those Inkatha members were wearing a red cloth in their heads, so we thought it was wise that we wear the white one so that we can identify ourselves.
Q: Whose idea was that?
C: I think it was everybody's.
D: It was wise to identify ourselves so that we could not attack brothers.
Q: But weren't you worried that white shows out better in the dark than red? It's easier to spot the white.
C: I can say really it was black and dark, and we hit them ... If you didn't have a white cloth on your head we think that you are our enemy.
E: And we were using a certain language for identifying ourselves by saying 'OK changa (sp?), OK', so we know that this is your friend. Because the hostel dwellers they speak really Zulu, so they don't know what you mean when you say 'OK changa'.
Q: What does that mean?
E: No, we identifying ourselves. You don't say 'who is this man?' He must reply to you and say 'OK changa'. This simply means he's your friend. He's a Comrade.
Q: Were any of you hurt in the fighting?
A: But I was scratched by a fence when I was running away from the police. It's just a scratch. [shows cut]
Q: And did any of you get to actually hit or hurt anybody on the Inkatha side?
D: Yesterday we got one guy. He was hungry that guy, he was coming from the hostel, he was wearing a red cloth and I think he was drunk that guy because it was dangerous that he can come to the location when the situation was like this. So we found him. There were two. One he tried to run away, but when we hear, the other who ran away was caught in Mapetla, and the other one was left and we even injured him and he was killed by the whole resident, not by the only supporters of the ANC. He was burnt after he was killed.
I.M. When was it, yesterday? [Sunday]
Q: He was killed first?
Q: So all the residents gathered around and attacked him?
P.C. So how was the police reaction against that killing?
All: They were not there, they came very late.
C: Just because there was no one was going to tell them that here is an Inkatha member just because all the residents were angry, they wanted to catch that man, just because they have killed our comrades and our brothers and sisters.
Q: But it's quite a long way from the hostel to here, isn't it?
D: He was chased from Mapetla [about 1km] by other comrades, by other residents.
Q: So he'd been running.
A: Asking for food, he say that he is hungry, he wants food. Then we realise that we don't want to give you food, we just want to kill you, because you killed our brothers.
E: And I think he was sent by his other colleagues because he was having about 90 rand.
Q: Did he have any weapons?
D: He was having a sticks, a sticks and a spear.
A: A knobkerrie. But I think it was a pick, a stick of a pick.
Q: He must have been crazy.
Q: Why didn't he take his headband off?
C: I think it was his day to die.
Q: You think he was just ... ?
A: You know, others they were forced to join this Inkatha, so others they realised that 'we are doing just because we are forced.' You know. They don't want to join. So others realised that, 'no man, we must get a chance to run away.' But there was no chance, to run away. Because, also we guarding.
Q: So you think he might have been someone who was forced to join Inkatha?
C: I don't think anybody was forced to join Inkatha members. Because other they ran away from the hostel and came to stay here with the residents. There are many in the location who are from hostels and stay with us.
Q: So they ran away when the fighting started on Thursday morning?
C: They came and stay with us, here. they say they are not the members of Inkatha. That's why I say there is nobody that was forced to join Inkatha at the hostel. They are Inkatha members.
B: There are other members of the Inkatha which were staying around the area, inside the location. So while the fight was starting they ran away to the hostels and they left their wifes here. And their wifes they say that now, our masters are not coming back, then they ran away. Then they left their shacks around the area. So they disappeared, we don't know. The others they come during the night to come and fetch their clothes, so sometimes the others we see them, the others we don't see them when they come.
E: And most of them they live in shacks. And our only aim is that we must chase them, and even those who live in hostel, they must be chased. The fight won't stop if they are still living there in the hostel. I think the fight can be stopped only if they move, they go back to Natal.
B: And the other thing which we have noticed is that we've got our comrades which are staying there at the hostels. So when we are just around the hostel watching what these people are doing they just catch these comrades which we've got and send them out and say 'get out here', so that they should think we can catch them and kill them. So that we see that no when they arrive to us they said 'no, comrades you know those people they've catched us so that we mustn't go out. When we are just around they just take out us so that you should kill us.' Then we saw that these people no they are doing another thing which is wrong. So we tried and discussed with those comrades of us and we give them a place to stay.
Q: Because Isaac's cousin lives in that hostel. He's from Swaziland and he's a shoemaker, and I notice that one of his roommates is an ANC—the cousin's ANC too—so those guys would have been forced out of the hostel on Thursday?
B: They don't take them out at the very same time all of them, they just said to them 'you must sit here, you mustn't go anywhere.' When we go and see what, we go and try to attack those people, they just take them out and say 'you get out.' So that we can catch them and say 'these are Inkatha members.' When they arrived this side we say 'now guys where are you coming from?' They tell us 'no, we are comrades, those people they just chase us away just because they want you to kill us they know that we are comrades.'
Q: Were you there when some of these guys came out?
Q: What did they say? They must have been pretty scared.
B: The guy was scared, so, and when he was coming, he arrived there, then we ask her 'no where you come from'. He said, 'no, you know comrades, I'm a comrade, this thing it didn't start today. These people they've catched us inside and said we must move. So when they see you arriving then they chase us away so that you can kill us. They can't kill us there inside. So they don't want us around.' Then we said to those guys, 'no come guys we'll give you a place to stay.' Then they stay around. Then sometimes they just move around, they move around there and came out and shoot one and then they run inside again.
E: I think this also happened at the Nancefield hostel because there are two hostels separated by a railway line. So most of the other hostel, most of the dwellers are Xhosas and the others are Zulus. The Xhosas are there in the Zulus hostel. So they chased the Xhosas a long time before to the other Xhosas. And even the Xhosas chased the Zulus. So, they are fighting.
Q: Do you think that this thing of Xhosas and Zulus fighting is tribalistic?
E: I think that because Mr Mandela is a Xhosa and Gatsha Buthelezi is a Zulu, so the Zulus say they are not going to be ruled by a Xhosa member. We the Zulus are the leaders. So they start attacking the Xhosas.
D: And I think another problem of these guys who are Zulus they think, they said this country was taken from the Zulus so it must be brought back to the Zulus long ago. So when Mandela, Mr Mandela, is negotiating with Mr De Klerk, they think that Mr de Klerk is going to give Mr Mandela power so that he can rule. So they thought that at least if they can fight with the Xhosas so they will win. So maybe their problem is that one. Because most of them, people who are coming from Natal they are illiterate. So it's their problem. They are instructed, they don't suggest what to do. Mr Gatsha Buthelezi told them, these guys, 'do like this'.
A: Even Mr Mandela when he came out from jail, he didn't say that he is fighting for Xhosas. He said he is fighting for everybody in South Africa, or Africa as a whole. The black and the white. He didn't discriminate or say 'you are a Zulu I don't fight for you, you are a Sotho, Tswana, what what ... ' So he said he is fighting for everybody here in South Africa. And so the Zulus thought that this land is for them because of their king Shaka. He was a brief (?) and he conquered so many lands here. So I think that they are fighting for it because others they say that they won't be ruled by a prisoner. You know, something like that. And we realise that those people are trying to discriminate or insult him.
C: When I say, this thing I should think it started in the other way just like this. Inkatha was participating at Natal, around Natal. so now they've opened Inkatha to be a political organization. Now I should think they're trying to organize the people by killing the others. When they killed my brother, I said, 'hey, Inkatha is killing our brothers, in no ways let me join Inkatha.' I should think it's the other way they're trying to organize their people.
Q: Have any of you ever met an Inkatha supporter, and talked with one.
A: Yes. I can say yes because in front of my home there is a boy who is. He said to us that he was an Inkatha member because of his family. So, he asked us that he is now no more an Inkatha member. So he said that his uncle and his family are still Inkatha members. So he just resigned from Inkatha member. And he is nowhere now, he is not an ANC member, or an Inkatha member. He is just neutral. So we as the comrades, we realised that we must not trust that guy. Because we don't know where he is right or he is wrong, or he's talking the truth or the false. We realised that we must see that what is going on on him. Because always he just stay with us play play then he move away, maybe right about four o'clock afternoon. then he just stay in his home til in the morning. then he came out also: play, play, play, and just move around. And so we realised that we must not trust him.
Q: And ...
I.M. So, what caused you not to trust him because he's always indoors not participating in the community structures within the Phiri.
A: Ya, I can say you must not trust him because in Senaoane there are Inkatha members there you know. And he's got a friend there who is Inkatha member also. So that's why I say, we say we thought that we must not trust him. Because always when he move around he go there, then he come later, and we don't know there what he is doing, you know. so we realised that we must not trust that guy.
M.C.: Where was he born?
A: He was born in Natal. So I don't know where in Natal.
Q: Do you think it's true that all people ... that people born in Natal and now living here are not trusted? Do you think people are suspicious people from Natal?
E: I don't think so, because the fight started in Natal and in Natal the people who stay there are Zulus only. So there are those who favours ANC and there are those favours ANC [Inkatha?] So some of those came into Johannesburg, they may be Inkatha members or ANC members. So here in the location, only the Zulus who are came from Natal we don't trust them because we don't know what is going on with them. But most of them, I don't say that 'the Zulus are Inkatha'. some of them are Inkatha, and some of them are favours ANC, ANC supporters.
Q: But it's hard to tell?
C: And the other thing, I should think there are people who are Inkatha members and which they don't take the thing which is doing by Inkatha just now.
M.C.: And those are residents, neh?
M.C.: [poorly audible and in Zulu.]
B: We've got people who are Inkatha members, and they are residents, we are staying with them. But they don't take the thing which is done by Inkatha this morning. The others they are now starting to resign the Inkatha just because they see now Inkatha is doing a wrong thing. They are now not doing the thing which they were trying to do to organize it, they are now doing, eh, they are taking another direction. They are not using the direction which they were trying to use, and the direction which they told the people that 'no, Inkatha is doing this, and this, and this and is trying to be like this and this, is trying for the peoples, is trying for to fight for the people in this and this and this.' Now when they see Inkatha killing each other, people killing Africans, now they start resigning.
Q: Tell me, yesterday when this Inkatha man was killed here, how were people feeling? How did people feel about that?
D: People were—on my idea when I said the people, the people were not worried, and people, some, most of them were happy because they know, even our mothers, were happy because they know that these people they are the people who attack them when they are moving to work.
A: I can say they were happy because on Friday night the Granny there from Mapetla, he was killed by the Inkatha members, so his family had to run away then he was left there, then they reach him and started to kill him with the pangas, knobkerries and so on. He was seventy two years old. Then he can't run away, he can't move because he was too old. So I think they were happy because, our mothers, even that Inkatha member who was killed here, there was grannies there who were carrying stones, others were carrying axes started to hit him, you know.
Q: How many people were involved? How many of the residents were there?
D: I think it's more than one hundred, more than two hundred.
B: I think there were many.
E: Most of the residents.
B: The others were still coming.
Q: So this man was being chased by the crowd and then he ran into another crowd?
Q: Did you see him while he was still running, or was it finished when you got there?
A: I can say I didn't finish, ah, I mean I didn't see him but we hear that there is an Inkatha member here and when we reach here he was so weak because he so hitten, you know, then we reach her, he was down and started to hit, they hit him, then he was burnt.
Q: So lots and lots of people were hitting him?
Q: And afterwards, how did people feel? When he was burnt they were happy?
All: They were happy. They were happy. They were happy. [overlapping voices]
B: But our parents they said, 'no, if the Inkatha members were just killing for nothing, they were killed for nothing, they were not going to be happy why we killed them.' They said, 'no, these people they've started things, they've killed our people, they've killed our brothers and sisters, then when we get them what can we do with them, then it's just to kill them', just because if we can say now, 'no, you must stop killing our people' they, when they get back to their brothers they will start killing again. So our parents and our brothers they said we must kill them just because they have already killed our brothers and sisters.
A: Even if they found you, or catch you, they won't leave you they will kill you. So we thought that we must not leave them we must kill them.
B: And they said when we can catch him we take him maybe to Protea police station, the police are working together with the Inkatha members so they'll take him back to the Inkatha group. So that we must kill them just because even our brothers and sisters, there are others which are not members of the ANC, there are others which are just moving and they don't belong to any organization. But when these Inkatha members attack they attack each and every one, they don't want to hear, they don't ask 'are you an Inkatha member, are you an African National Congress member; they just kill you, they don't want to know nothing.
D: What I can say is these police are working hand in glove with Inkatha, because one of the guy who was inside the hostel, he was having a gun which they use tear gas. This gun it's only used by the policemen. So, and this guy when he was use it, he was use it in front of the policemen, and the policemen were just looking.
Q: What did the police do yesterday when they finally arrived?
D: The police told us that the truck would come at three o'clock. I think the cars, the vehicles of the police were about six. But when we wait until three o'clock they were phoning for other cars. When these cars, four of the cars came, they only shot tear gas, rubber bullet, so in our minds we know that these police were waiting for other colleagues of their policemen.
Q: And yesterday when this Inkatha man was killed, did the police come? They came afterwards?
D: They came very late.
Q: And what did they do?
D: They only shot tear gas and surround the place.
Q: They didn't question anybody?
A: There was no one.
Q: So when the police arrived had the crowd gone away?
B: Yes, because they fired tear gas. Then they stayed there.
Q: And they took the body?
B: Yes, they called for that car to took away the body.
Q: And were any of the people fighting the police during the time?
D: Yes, I tried with other colleague because we saw that this police they are all, if we cannot hit this policeman, we won't defeat Inkatha. I think on Saturday night I hit one of the police cars with an iron bar. Then we ran away, he didn't see where does this iron bar came from. I just throw it.
Q: Were others of the comrades also fighting the police?
D: Some were trying, to fight the police.
A: Even on Saturday night there were some who said 'we must try to fight the police because we know that the police are always on the side of Inkatha.' So now because they said on Saturday night that we must wait here, whilst they were patrolling the whole area in Mapetla. So other comrades thought that we can't stay here doing nothing because the police and the Inkatha members they are fighting and they are shooting at us. So because of others there in Mapetla were so frightened to take part to attack the police, they realise that it is too dangerous to fight the police, because they were Sadaf, the SADF, so they thought that we can't fight against the police. I thought that they were so frightened. Then others, we move, they go back to their homes and the residents of Mapetla, that side, they stayed to, er, waiting for what is going to happen in the morning or at night, so.
Q: Was there much organisation? I mean, how did people know what was going on and what to do? Were there special people who were organizing and leading, or was it disorganized?
D: No, I can say no one tried to organize anyone. People were aware of what was happening. So anyone was trying to do anything that would make him to success. Because we didn't discriminate that whether you come from this organization, or you are a parent or whatsoever. Everybody was trying to be united. We were trying to be united.
Q: So there was nobody who said: 'this group must protect these houses, and this group must go over there'? There was no sort of plan?
A: I can say we were planning because Merafe hostel was surrounded by comrades. So we had to share ourselves: others to guard that side, others here. Even when they are starting to attack, if the comrades of here in Phiri, this side, we are not there they started to whistle, then we realise that is the time to take our weapons and go there.
B: And we find that if we are far away from Mapetla, just because Mapetla is next to the hostel, we find that no, the other people really can afford to go and be around the place for the whole night just next to Mapetla hostel so that they should go and wait for the Inkatha members when they attack.
C: I can say on the other hand this thing was not planned because on Friday night others they went to Merafe station. Right about ten o'clock there was a Valiant for Inkatha members who were looking for comrades. Which is this Valiant we did saw it at Merafe hostel making dust there at Merafe hostel. And right about ten o'clock it was looking for the comrades and there was nobody to protect the Phiri residents this side. And they did not find any comrades in the street. So I say this thing was not planned.
Q: During the day on Thursday when I was at the soccer field, there were big crowds, were people making speeches to the crowd?
E: Yes I think Mrs Winnie was there.
Q: Mrs Who?
E: Winnie Mandela was there. He told us that he came from Moroka and Protea police station. He talked with Mr Swart the general of Soweto. So that general of Soweto for the policeman for the policeman Mr Swart he told Mrs Winnie that he gave the police a rule that they must not shoot with the bullets they must use tear gas and rubber bullets and Mrs Winnie asked that guy, Mr Swart, why they must fire tear gas to the comrades and not to the Inkatha members. then he used an insult, that guy at Protea, Mr Swart.
Q: So she came back and addressed the crowd?
E: He came twice, then he said he would be back again, but for the third time I was not there.
Q: And so she told the crowd that this is what had been happening?
Q: What do people think of Winnie Mandela here? What do the comrades think of her? [silence] I mean is she someone who is able to address the crowd, do people respect?
D: Most people did respect her because she is one of our leadership.
Q: And was there anyone else addressing the crowd?
E: Yes, she was accompanied by Peter Mokaba the SAYCO leader.
Q: Did he speak?
Q: What did he say?
E: They only speak the report from that guy at Protea what did he say.
Q: He didn't say to the residents to go home?
E: No. He said we must stay and defend to those people next to the hostel and the police must not disarm us because the Inkatha members are carrying the assegais and whatever. So we have to still defend those people.
Q: Did he stay?
Q: Did Peter stay? Peter Mokaba, did he stay?
E: No he didn't stay, because they were going back to that guy for the third time, Mr Swart.
A: And General Ngubene (?)
Q: And they didn't come back after that?
E: No I was not there. Because he came there Mrs Winnie ...
Q: What time was that?
E: It was at about three, ney?, when he was addressing us in the soccer field.
Q: And were any others of the residents speaking at that meeting?
A: There were no one.
B: Only the delegate which we delegate just to speak with the police and the Inkatha delegates.
Q: And how were they chosen?
B: No, we've got our people which were choosen by the ... when we are just here in Phiri then we choose about five when is there they must join the delegates so that they should try and talk together with the police and Inkatha. So these police what they were doing, they were not taking these Inkatha members and this delegates, we should choosen them and talk all together. They just come and meet this delegate of ours here and cross the street and meet that delegate of Inkatha and meet them aside and then they come back with their own resolutions. Then we saw that no, the best thing we should go and call the station commander, or..
Q: Did the police come to the comrades first and say 'you must make a delegation', or did people decide to send a delegation?
B: No, it's just us we decide to send a delegation.
Q: So then this delegation crossed the road to speak to the police?
B: No the police were just next to us. Then the Inkatha members were right down next to the hostel. Then our delegates started to talk with the police, and one of the police went down with a car and talked with the Inkatha and the Inkatha I should think tried to take out its own delegate. But the didn't take them together. They just talk there, then they come and tell the comrades what those people are saying and take this message. So we didn't ... We found that this thing is not coming right, just because these police they can say those Inkatha members they are saying this and this and this. And now they go and say 'those comrades, those delegates from that side are saying this and this.
Q: So you can't trust the police?
B: No, we can't trust them.
Q: When the .... You said that the commander of the Protea station came to talk to the comrades. Did he address everybody or did he just talk to the delegation.
B: No, he just talk to the delegation, then the delegation came back and tell us what the station commander say.
Q: And when he came, did he come alone or with bodyguards.
C: No, I should think he came with bodyguards. They were four.
M.M.: In a copter or a car?
B: No, he came with a car. First time they call him he's just on the air or where, I don't know, then after a long time he came with a car. He speak to the delegate there. Then from there they go with him, the station commander, show him the houses that those Inkatha members were attacking. Then they came back with him, then he said he'd try and get those trucks which he's talked about. And the trucks they didn't come.
Q: Let me get this straight: this was Friday now, and not Thursday?
A: This one was Saturday.
Q: Ah, right, on Saturday. So it wasn't until Saturday that the station commander ...
Q: And when did Winnie Mandela and Peter Mokaba address the people?
E: It was on Thursday.
Q: That was on Thursday?
E: Yes, the beginning of the fight.
Q: Because on Friday and Saturday the big crowd wasn't there in the soccer field.
E: Yes it was Friday, Saturday .... .... .... ..[cut; end of tape] B:I say we go there Friday, Saturday, Thursday when the fight was commencing, then Friday. And even on Saturday. Even yesterday, it was Sunday, we go there to protect those houses.
Q: But there wasn't such a big crowd after Thursday was there in that soccer field?
B: Yes, after Thursday we were not so much.
Q: What do you think the police should have done?
A: Ya, I can say the police should have protected both sides, or disarmed Inkatha members from there came to us. So the police I can say they were afraid of Inkatha members. So the police should have disarmed us and the Inkatha members. So I realised that they were afraid, or I can say there was friction between Inkatha member and the police.
Q: Were the police actually going into the hostel at all or were they staying on the outside?
D: No, they didn't go inside the hostel. They moved just around, they came just in the gate of the hostel.
B: And even far away from the hostel. Because most of the people are killed by the police even next to, at our home there was a person who was shoot by the police. So where is the hostel when that person is killed there? This is about more than two kilometers.
Q: Why was he killed?
B: I don't know.
A: He just shoot.
B: No, they didn't kill him, they shoot him, they fired to him.
Q: What do you think happened, because I was ... I've been here since Thursday and by Saturday there were roadblocks all over Soweto—two, three kilometers from the hostel, more—what was going on? That was to fight the police, wasn't it, or to stop the police from moving around?
C: It was to stop the police.
E: As well as the Inkatha members because they are moving in cars.
Q: So what do you think is going to happen now?
D: I can say the fight is still on because the Inkatha members are still there at the hostels. So unless maybe there can be a peace talk, maybe this peace talk it can be only one thing that the police can tell these guys at the hostels that they must move. The people are only waiting for that. All the residents in their ideas they think that if these people they can move. Because if there can be any peace talk, maybe they talk with those guys the fight can stop. It will happen again because they have, er, have dunderheads.
C: I don't think the peace talk will stop this fight just because these people they have already attacked many places, just like in Sebokeng, Daveyton, all around these places. So these people, I should think, if ever now, you can say they are still around here while they are not there, then they've already changed their place, they've gone to another place. So peace talk will never stop to this. I should think the fight should go on so that peace when the other group can maybe overpower the other one. And the hostels I think should be damaged. There must be no more hostels around here.
B: I also think the peace talk won't stop the fight because the fight started at about 1986 at Natal between the Inkatha members and ANC supporters. So the leaders of the Inkatha organization, Mr Buthelezi, he is also the members of the police. So they tried to talk to him that he must stop the fight at Natal. He didn't do that. So the fight is spread over where there is some supporters of Inkatha members. So even at Sebokeng, Vosloorus, East Rand there is a fight. So he was supposed to stop the fight before, a long time ago, at about 1986, 87. So he couldn't stop the fight so the fight spread over around.
C: I can say to fight to stop the members of Inkatha they must be taken back to Kwa Zulu and the hostel must be burnt down. Because even if they can here the war will continue, it will continue. That's why I say the members of Inkatha should be taken back to Kwa Zulu to use their tribalism there. Because we don't want tribalism. We want everybody must be free here. And we should be ruled by one government.
A: I should think there are people who are saying Mangosuthu Buthelezi wants to speak to Nelson Mandela so that there should make a peace talk. I should think there will be no peace talk there just because if ever Mangosuthu was trying to make a peace talk he was supposed to call Nelson Mandela a long time ago. So now I should think even if they can meet there will be no peace there, just because Nelson Mandela, all the time he doesn't want the members of the organization to do such things which is done by Inkatha just now. And the Inkatha members all the time they used to report at the office at Ulundi, they've got their telex, they've just sent a telex to Ulundi just now, they say, 'no, the people of Mapetla, or people of Phiri, they want to attack Mapetla hostel,' so they said 'no, if they're attacking you attack them.' Then they just, they know why they've reported to their office. There are no people who are going to attack them, they just go out and attack the people. When they tell their office they say, 'no, those people they were attacking us, so we attacked them.' And the police are working together with the Inkatha members. Just because those people now, they are not coming out side the hostel, they fear to come out. Then the police are giving those people food, and they give them each and every one one loaf brown, 2 pint of ingomas (?). So those people they have loaf brown the whole day, 2 pint ingomas, they are hungry just now. They want to come out. So I should think there will be fight against the leadership of the Inkatha and the Inkatha members, just because the leadership if ever its just telling those people to do those things. The members should say, 'now you see we are dying now; these people are killing us.'
M.M: So would I be right when I say the main body, the Inkatha main body, the Executive, is not the one which is orchestering all this fighting between the Inkatha members and the ANC, they are not the one who planned all this thing. Is that what you are saying?
A: No, they are the one who planned this thing. Just because if ever they were not planned this thing, they were supposed to say 'no, these people who are doing those things, they are not Inkatha members.' Just because just like if I am an ANC member, I can not say if they say 'no, let's do such things which is done by Inkatha members.' I can ask 'why for, why are we doing, just because ANC is not done just to kill black, you know, it is organized so that we should build South Africa for each and everyone. So Inkatha, this thing which it is doing now, I don't know what is it.
Q: So what would happen, what would you guys think if Nelson Mandela and Gatsha Buthelezi did have this meeting, and did say peace among the people, throw your pangas into the sea, stop fighting.
D: No I think there is nothing that can help, only Gatsha Buthelezi can talk to the Kwa Zulu Government,and talk to his followers, then the fight can stop, not that Mr Nelson can be included.
Q: So he should not talk to Buthelezi?
E: No. I think the fight is continuing now because Mr Mandela and Buthelezi they won't meet, because Mr Buthelezi last week says in his statement 'the violence in South Africa won't stop if he and Mandela meets.' So he means if they don't meet the violence must continue between Inkatha members and the ANC. So I think Mr Buthelezi is trying for, he wants to meet Mr Mandela, and Mr Mandela don't want to meet with Mr Buthelezi because he's a traitor, a long time before.
Q: And you don't think that Mandela should meet Buthelezi?
E: Yes. Yesterday Mr Sisulu confirmed that they won't.
Q: And if he did, would you still support him? What about if tomorrow, Mandela decided that the only way out of this is to finally talk to Buthelezi .... But what if he did that, would you still support him?
D: No he won't do that without our consent, he will ask us. He's not a president himself, he's a president by us. Even the NEC, National Executive Committee of the ANC, he will meet with them and discuss with them that he's going to meet Gatsha Buthelezi. Then they had that solution, he won't do it himself alone.
P.T: I think that to my personal opinion it will be wise for Mr Mandela to meet Gatsha in future. Why I'm saying that, for the lives of the innocent, and for the Zulus. Zulus are very (inaudible) dull. If they'll hear that their king has met Mandela, they'll just lay their tools down and the whole set-up will be over. That's what I'm thinking of.
E: Yea, that thing will help, but it is useless to go and meet with your enemy, as Mandela, because Gatsha Buthelezi is the enemy of Mandela. Yea, that would help if they can meet.
P.T: For the lifes of the innocents.
B: No I should think the thing is why; if Mandela can go and meet Buthelezi. They'll make peace talks. I should think in that peace talks maybe there's something that Gatsha Buthelezi will ask Mandela 'I want this and this and this.' So if Nelson Mandela said 'no, o.k. I'm still going to ask the supporters and the other people of the organization, I'm not instructing these people, I'm working for the people.' So when he comes back he asks us and he says 'Gatsha Buthelezi saying this and this and this', and we say 'no, that thing is not in a right way, he must come from' because if Gatsha Buthelezi wants to join the African National Congress he must start from right down. We have been working; there are people who have been join the ANC long time. They have started right down. He mustn't just climb in stay there when we don't know what happened, where this thing started. So o.k., the people can join ANC, just like each and every one, just like me, I've joined the ANC, I've got my membership card. Not to say I must just join the ANC tomorrow I'm President of the ANC.
D: And another thing what I would say in my opinion, Gatsha Buthelezi he want to achieve his goal with meeting with Mr Mandela because he is not recognized now. He's been recognized as a brutal person who can kill Africans. So he now wants to be recognized as the main people, the main person who stop the fight. He can stop the fight, but he didn't want to stop it. He only wants to achieve his goal. With meeting with Mr Nelson Mandela, he will achieve his goal. Firstly, one, like Mr de Klerk will sort of you know, this one is another one of the leaders of the people of South Africa so he must be included maybe in the future negotiations.
Q: But don't you think that Buthelezi is a leader in his own way? I mean, we've all seen how the Inkatha people here in the hostel follow him. In Natal, there are a lot of people who do follow Buthelezi, and belong to Buthelezi, so shouldn't the people who want to support Inkatha be allowed to support Inkatha and that their leader should also be recognised?
D: He's not a leader of all the people of South Africa also I can say Mr Mandela is not a leader of all the people of south Africa. But he is the leader of the people, the the all the constituents of the ANC. So but Gatsha Buthelezi is a puppet, he doesn't have a majority. He have a majority in Natal. Also in Natal, he have about half of the people living in Natal. Here in South Africa we cannot even call those people who are living in hostel as a constituent because they are not enough that he can, he can be proud of the people who're living in hostel and even in Natal. I think in Soweto, the people of Soweto and the people of Natal are in favour of Inkatha, they are equal with the people of Soweto only. And they've got supporters from Venda, even Bophutatswana. All over, all over the country South Africa is (good?) and even in some of, in Namibia.
Q: So you don't think that even in Natal they should be recognized? It should be a fight to the finish?
D: Yes, even ANC have the number of people in Natal in his place. That is why there is war in hostel.
Q: And the solution here is to burn down the hostel?
All: Yes. It is to burn them.
B: We don't trust those people, we don't sleep at night because we don't trust them.
Q: But is that going to happen? Is the hostel going to be burnt down?
A: Yes they can be burned down or maybe there can be fence that can be opened. I think it is the only solution in which they can be taken. But we want them to leave there, they must move, we can ... even they die for that, they most move.
Q: So what will happen? People will wait until it calms down then launch an attack?
B: Well we will try and do something that will break down that hostel. We will never sit down, just because we are going to die. Those people must leave. The main thing, we are not going to leave them. Just because, just like yesterday it was a little bit better, today we can it is little bit better, it is more better just because during the day there is nothing much that is happening. But at two o'clock those people will come and attack us again. So we must try and destroy that place. Okay we can never, if ever we don't destroy that place they must open the place so that each and everyone can move inside that place and they should not stay there alone, only them. Each and everyone should get in or destroy the hostel and build a nice houses just like this ones so that people should stay there. Not for only—eh—such people like who is just staying there now.
Q: Do you think it is a problem that it's just all men living there? Do you think that's one of the reasons why they fight, because it seems to me that it's kind of crazy, that there are maybe, what? 2,000 people living in Merafe Hostel. Is that how many?
C: No, that is too many, one thousand, about eight hundred to one thousand.
Q: So anyway, I wasn't really — They are not, compared to the rest of Soweto and the residents, they are a minority. It's not as if they can win. If they fight the residents they can't win.
C: They can't. And they are mixed: Tswanas, Xhosas, Zulus.
Q: This was always quite a quiet and peaceful hostel wasn't it.
Q: I mean, it's not an Inkatha stronghold. It was never an Inkatha stronghold.
P.T. It is not. It is the smallest one around here. So I think this Inkatha organization must disband. Because its executive, they are learned, and their supporters are the ones that offer mostly hard and cheap labour. So this Gatsha and this Executive is misleading people, they are misinforming people and they use this tradition as their political achievement. So that what I can say to elaborate the statement of which have been said by my fellow Comrades.
Q: Is there anything else that we should talk about or that someone wants to say?
B: We don't say that this Inkatha must disband. The thing is one, this Inkatha it can continue in the right way, but not in this way which they are doing now. It can continue.
D: But generally it must disband because its misleading the people. But at this present juncture, it must move away from our areas. Then it can continue in other areas. But generally, it must disband.
All: It must disband.
Q: Let me ask you one last question about this fighting. People have said its a fight between the residents and the hostel dwellers.
Q: They have also said its a fight between Inkatha and the ANC.
Q: They have also said it's a fight between Zulus and Xhosas.
Q: And God knows what else. So what is it a fight about? Is it all of those things? I mean if there wasn't Inkatha ... In 1976 there was fighting, too, when there was no Inkatha. What is this fighting about?
D: This present time I can say, this fight, it occurs in many ways because it started as a fight with Inkatha against the UDF in Natal, then it spreads to the whole country. So as my fellow comrade has said, they use this fight as their political achievement.
P.T. Yea, it come in three ways you can categorize it. It is ethnic, ethnically. Tribal conflict. They are tribalist because they say we are Xhosa because we support the ANC, and they are Zulus. And it is political, also. It is politically, ethnically, and tribalist.
Q: And what about the other aspect of hostel dwellers and residents?
P.T. Hostel dwellers and residents? Well that one I think we've got no solution for that.
Q: Why do people hate, have such resentment for the hostels? I mean, if you think about it, people in the hostels are generally, I mean they are single men, often have to leave home, to leave their families behind.
Q: They're doing badly paid jobs.
Q: They're living in terrible conditions. You know, it's a hard and unpleasant life. You know, in a sense we should, why aren't we sorry for them, living in such conditions? And trying to get rid of the hostels to help these people. Because the hostels were created by Verwoerd, with the migrant labour system. And these people are being oppressed and exploited by the Government, by the system, by capitalism, by employers. They're the worst paid. Why aren't people saying these are the people who should be helped? They're our brothers and sisters, our brothers in this case. They are being —
D: You can see yourself it's only Gatsha Buthelezi is misleading those people. He's still presurizing the tribalism of which we don't want here. So that is why we can't help those, our brothers who are Inkatha members. Because even their leader Gatsha Buthelezi is misleading them, you can't withdraw them to towards the bright light.
P.T. And these people are being, promoting crime more than the residents.
Q: Is that true?
P.T. They have been taking some private parts to the people of which they have for ritual. This has been going on.
Q: Muti murders in Soweto?
P.T. It is caused by those dwellers, those are involved in most cases.
Q: And that stuff has been happening? So is there a lot of crime from this hostel?
Q: How do you know it's carried out by the hostel dwellers?
E: Because if you go there, if they are caught at the station, you may sometimes find the corpse of a person, it has been there for —
P.T. Sometimes with the private parts missing. Did you see that?
Q: And how do you know it's from the hostel?
E: Maybe the tongue is not available to that person, they take it away. The tongue. What can you do with the tongue of another person?
Q: And is there much of that? These muti murders, is there much of that, those murders for muti, for the body parts?
P.T. During the past three years it was dominant. And outside Soweto. In Alexandra, Sebokeng.
Q: And around here, you've seen that? You've seen people murdered for their tongue, or their — for muti.
E: Yes. I hear that. Some of them I saw them, but I was unable to reach that place because the police, they don't want person, the people to see what is going on. Even when they shoot any one of you, they would just move away the people then. Only the other people can reach that place. Then they told us what is happening to that person. Private part is away, is taken away, whatever. So even now when we are fighting they use muti. You can find one of them is wet with the barks of a tree.
Q: Do the Comrades use muti?
E: No. (laughter)
B: Those people I should think, too, even the Inkatha members, when they're dead, I should think maybe there is something which they take from them and use them, for them, so that they can get muti. I should think so. Just because those people maybe they can say now we are going to bury him in Natal and you never know.
E: Most of them they don't bury it here, they take away the body to Natal.
Q: On a slightly different subject, one of the things for me staying here during this violence, one of the things that I find hard to understand, is that you never know really what's going on, you know. You hear stories — I remember we were over there and people were saying the Inkatha were getting ready at Nancefield and four different people came in with four different stories. One said there's a big impi forming. Another said no, the Inkatha were just lying around like it was Sunday afternoon. And you constantly hear these different stories about what's going on, what's really happening.
D: In fact it's the understanding of the people. Some they know very well its the Inkatha, some they won't know. They saw people wearing red cloths in their heads. So we can see the same thing but understanding won't be the same.
Q: So what do you do then? I mean, in this sort of situation when you hear so many different kinds of stories, what do you know? How do you know what to believe? Especially if you hear the news on the radio, that's got a different story, the TV is always, you know. The police say something else. What do you believe?
E: I think you can believe that thing if two people, then they come from different place, then they report the same thing. If this one says 'this and that', and this one says 'this and that'. And the third person came and correspond with one of the two person, you must believe the majority because they report the very same thing, and that one report what is differ from this. So you would believe them.
Q: So you would play one story off another? So it's only when things start to agree that you believe it.
Q: That makes it pretty difficult, doesn't it, if things are happening like over the last three days, where there have been all sorts of things going on, happening, then it must be very difficult, (especially if, if you are going to be involved in defending the houses of the residents) to actually know what's going on. Because it's a matter of life and death, isn't it sometimes?
Q: Because, I mean, in the end it could be — Say for instance, this thing about the stories. If one person tells the same, tells a story. Say if I sit down and tell five people that the impi is gathering in Nancefield Hostel, So I say 'the impi's gathering at Nancefield Hostel', because I've seen some guys sitting around. And I tell five, and then those five people tell five more people. In half an hour's time there could be a hundred people could know and hear the same story from different sources, even though it's all come from me, [laughter] who doesn't know anything. Do you have ways of testing that. You know, because that then might mean that we've got to go off and fight.
Q: And then the people sitting around drinking beer in Nancefield, see the crowd coming, and they say 'we are being attacked.' Then they get organized, and then the whole fight could start.
D: Yes we just try to find out. Maybe the other person not telling the truth, and telling lies so we investigate.
E: And they exaggerate.
A: Even some people they just hear a story which is lies. Then they come and spread to the other peoples, then those people realize that it is the truth, whilst it's not the truth.
Q: This escalates fear, doesn't it?
Q: Because then it goes throught the whole community. So people get scared and then it sort of, it's like a fire, isn't it?.
E: No, the people they don't get scared. I think it is still okay, so people start to prepare themselves. So that even if it can be true, it will come when the people they are ready for it.
A: Even the papers, the papers are not talking the same thing, even if you read a paper, they don't separate they just say 'people of Mzimhlope are so much'. Even the — if they say '72 people dead, died', they don't say Inkatha members has so much, and ANC supporters has so much. They just compile.
Q: So do you know how many on each side have been killed?
A&B: No we don't, because they're mixed.
Q: So how many do you think? Do you think it's about half and half? Or are there more comrades, more residents than Inkathas?
E: I think Inkatha has killed more.
A: In Soweto.
B: In Soweto, yeh, Inkatha have killed more in Soweto, just because those people are attacking the residents while they are sleeping and while they are on their way to work. They are not prepared, those people, so that they are not in motion so that they can fight at the very same time. They don't know nothing, what will happen. So I would think they have killed many people. And when we started to go and protect our residents, then they ran away in the hostel and the police protect them. So we find one/one, one/two, one/one. So I think Inkatha have killed many of us.
Q: Let me ask one final question. You were all involved in the struggle during the state of emergency from '84 to '86. Is this sort of fighting very different, and is the atmosphere very different now from that time, those days? Does it feel the same in Soweto now as it did in the Emergency?
D: No. I can say this one it's more difficult because now we are facing many enemies. But during that time we know which was our enemy. But now the policemen and even Inkatha members, they are only, they're our enemies. Because even they kill our fellow comrades. Our enemy now has increased. At least it was then a sole enemy. Now we are running away from this. You can run away from the Inkatha and hiding and shielding yourself but policemen they will also assault you. So it's difficult.
A: Even from '76 the police were being helped by the Zulus, but it was not being realized that they were Inkatha members. We just realized that they were Zulus who would help the police to kill our comrades.
B: And I should think that this Inkatha, the other Inkatha members are still, are the police. Just because on Thursday morning when the fight starts, there are four police who arrive there and asked us what's happening. Then they said to us we must stop what we are doing. Those people have trained in Israel. No even us, we have trained around. So if ever you know you got trained in Israel, how can you tell us, how can you tell us? So you don't know where we have trained, so you must just forget about us, just go and maintain order where you're supposed to maintain order.
D: I think this SAP, they also, in Natal, the Inkatha members are the ZP, the Zulu Police. But here in Transvaal, some of them are members of Inkatha and they're policemen. When they catch someone in location having a gun, they take it, that gun. Maybe they find that you're not in command of the policemen at the police station, he won't know. Maybe they fine you fifty rand, or hundred rands, or two hundred rands. They take it that gun. They are going to sell it in hostel, that gun. So that their fellow comrades in the hostel can get that gun.
Q: So you think it is the police who are in Inkatha as well?
Q: Most of the police here are black, aren't they?
B: As I said before the leader of the Inkatha is the general of the Zulu police, Mr Gatsha Buthelezi.
Q: Tell me a bit also about weapons. The people have told me that there are a lot of guns in the township. I think this comrade said that 70% of households have guns. Is that true?
B: They are there, but they—
Q: Where do people get guns from? [hesitation] I mean you don't have to give me names and addresses—[laughter]. If you just have the money can you buy a gun?
Q: Is it that simple?
B: It's not simple, it's difficult.
A: If you had to buy a gun, they want a licence for it, you know, others, they just, you know, rob the cars, or theft, they just found them in the cars.
B: And those that are housebreaking, those who are fellows who are stealing at the white suburbs, they rob and then they find the guns.
Q: And so, I mean, is there a market in these guns. I means if you want to — we met someone yesterday who said he could get us a nine millimeter pistol. But is it very difficult then to buy a gun. I mean, how much does it cost? Say if you wanted to buy a pistol?
D: To buy it's not difficult. It's only to get a licence of the gun. They want a background, maybe you have got a business.
Q: But I mean, if its illegal locally in Soweto, if you want to buy an illegal gun?
D: No that is very simple, and it's very cheap.
Q: How much would a revolver cost?
D: Some they start a hundred and twenty rands, upwards.
A: It depends on what they are selling.
P.T. Let me identify this to my fellow comrades why I say that is 70%, 70% of people being in possession of guns. Is because in the media or when you buy a Sunday Times, you find that five, three to four, pages have got in murder. And that murder is involving firearm. Daily or weekly. So they identify the violent places, the violent scenes: Klipspruit, two were shot; Diepkloof, one was shot, Mapetla — So that's why I say 70% are in possession of guns.
E: But most of those people are not people who are involved in the struggle, are just the ordinary people.
Q: So they buy a gun to have it to protect themselves.
E: No they didn't buy it. Like those who are stealing the cars, they are not involve in the struggle, so when they steal a car, they find a gun inside it and he will not use in the fights between, like the one you are involved in.
Q: So say on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, how many people would have had guns amongst the residents? Many, or very few?
E: On Thursday, we heard about only one person.
Q: What type of gun, what kind of gun did he have?
E: I didn't see it, it was at night. He just raise up the hand and say 'I've got a gun', then we say we will follow him. Whilst he was firing to those guys at the hostel, then we follow him and attack. But then after the bullets were completed then he run away, said 'no, my bullets are over now,' then he ran away. Then the Zulus firing back, then we run away. But at the soccer field (we were not at the soccer field, we were next to the houses), there was a gun was firing. But it was coming from the residents, so we don't see that guy.
B: [quietly] That one was on my side. I've got it. And I shot about three guys there. They were coming out. The other one was trying ———— outside and I hit him just on the stomach. Then the other one was trying to open, there's a small door there. He was trying to open the door and I hit him there [points to left shoulder]. And the other one I hit him there [between the eyes], he was trying to climb the roof. When he comes on top there, I hit him.
Q: He's not going to need breakfast.
[B takes two bullets from his shirt pocket.]
Q: What kind of gun is this?
M.M.: So these are the only two left?
B: No, I've got them — to the other guy, he said 'no, I haven't got nothing, I saw you've got a gun, now you must use it, you must kill this Inkatha members.'
Q: Is it difficult to get bullets?
D: It's very difficult. But small ones they are easier. Because people who have bullets without guns, when we are going to attack, they come with their bullets and those who have guns without bullets, they come with they guns, so we share things like that. So who've got a pump gun, rifle, here's a shot for them, and you give it to the guy who's got pump gun.
Q: Did anyone have AK47s?
E: I heard the sound of AK47. It was on Thursday, next to the soccer field, when we were running away, I heard the sound of AK47.
Q: On the residents side, or the other?
B: It was the residents.
D: And an UZU, they call it UZU. It's a short one like this.
D: Not Makharov, UZU. Each one load 32 bullets. It was used.
A: They were brave. Even one, he wore a blanket and he was lying down facing the Inkatha members. When they were crawling towards us, he started shooting two or three, then he stops. Then the Inkatha members run away. Others when they come facing us, he just started to shoot two or three.
B: He was using a machine gun.
A: Yes, I think it was a machine gun.
B: That was a Makharov, just because he got two spears like this
B: No, he's got two spears. That machine's got a belt. Then he wear a big jacket. Then he just show those Inkatha members spears. When they come out, he holds his machine and say ka ka ka, then they fall down.
Q: Did you see that happen?
Q: It was at night?
B: It was at night, past eight, it was eight, yeh?
Q: That's serious.
D: It's serious, and it's difficult.
B: So people, they can kill those people. So, you know, the ANC doesn't want to use any of its own material for such things. Just because the ANC is not fighting with the Inkatha members. They can give us many weapons to go and kill Inkatha members. So ANC doesn't want those things, so it's trying to stop, to resist. Just because if ever they want to kill those people, they can come out, four people with AK47, they just enter there ka ka ka and kill them, kill all of them. So now they are trying to show them that, no mad guys we can kill you, stop what are you doing. Now these people have got dunderheads, they don't want to hear. And they know very well these people have got AK47, but ANC doesn't want such things.
Q: And in this kind of context, the MK cadres around here, do they have anything to say?
D: In fact, the ANC has suspend the armed struggle, they don't want to use all their material, because they've got material: hand grenades, limpet mines, many of them. So they don't want to use them. So they just stop, and shut their mouth because they suspend armed struggle. Which will be a loophole for the ANC if they can act which they have said they have suspended armed struggle. So it must be the residents that must act.
A: You know because of this propaganda system, you know, in Thokoza, I saw it on the tv maybe on Thursday, or Wednesday. They found a truck full of hand grenades, AK47, limpet mines, you know. So in the case of armed struggle, I think those people do themselves to show those weapons, I don't think that MK had sent those weapons to those residents of Thokoza.
P.T. I think MK is still using armed struggle.
Q: Where do you get an AK47 from in this country? They can't be easy to get.
D: It comes from Maputo.
Q: So there's black market in them from Mozambique, rather than—P
P.T. There are ANC offices there.
Q: Yea, I know, but the ANC, the MK has AK47 but they're not going to sell them.
D: In Maputo. There are guys who come from Maputo, they are not MK, they are only people running away from Maputo, so they come with the guns they sell to the community.
Q: How much would it cost to buy an AK47 in Soweto?
D: 500 rands.
Q: 500 rands, is that all? And bullets?
B: It depends.
E: Yes, it depends.
Q: It might be more now?
Q: How difficult would it be to buy an AK47? Very difficult? How difficult to find one to buy?
M.M.: The contact?
E: The contact is very difficult.
Q: And the bullets, are they expensive?
D: I can say the bullets they are not expensive.
Q: How much would it cost, those 9mm bullets? Are they expensive?
B: They are not expensive.
D: Some they can give you a 9mm rifle with some bullets for 300 rands. Twelve shots.
Q: Then of course there are the home manufacturers. [laughter] O.K. comrades, is there anything else that we should discuss? When do you think it will all be over? This fight, is it going to be days, weeks, months, years?
D: The only thing is that if they can move, as soon as they move the fight can stop.
M.M.: So in places like Natal, where the roots are?
P.T. I think the UDF and ANC should move out of Natal.
D: Then it's another apartheid. Another apartheid.
P.T. There's no solution about it. Inkatha should operate only in Natal.
B: Yes. Just because, if ever the UDF members they don't move there in Natal they'll keep on killing them. Even us, our brothers and sisters, the Inkatha have killed my brother, while these people are staying there there'll be a day when I will enter there, one room, I don't care whose room it is, Inkatha member or what, or if ever there's my comrade there in the hostel he tells me that no, Inkatha members are staying in that area, then I'll get in with my friends and so what I have to do, just because they've killed my sister or whatever.
P.T. So it's a crush game.
B: It's a crush game. So if ever they can just move ...
Q: Are you saying they did kill your blood sister?
B: Supposing. Just because, you'll find that even now I've got my uncle, since he left on Friday, so they don't know where is he: is he at hospital, or is he dead. We don't know.
C: So as we say, Inkatha members must go back to Natal. I'd like to say, Inkatha members must go back to Natal because they came here in Transvaal to come and work for their families, from Natal, but they have changed now to come and kill our parents and brothers here. And if I say they must go back to Natal, they will go to Gatsha Buthelezi and tell him 'now, Gatsha Buthelezi give us jobs now, because we don't have to work there. They have chased us away from Transvaal.' And they will kick Gatsha Buthelezi and Inkatha will fall down by that time. That's why I say Inkatha must go back to Natal.
D: And this thing is very easy because where they are living now in the hostel, they are living just reckless. There are no nice furnitures whatsoever. Any money they get they send it towards their family there in Natal. So they have nothing there in that hostel. They only have blanket and iron beds.
Q: Have you all been in the hostel?
E: And they don't sleep at that bed, they use just a door and place some bricks and a sponge. That is their bed.
P.T. They've got all facilities: they've got electric, water, toilets, shower. They are not incapable of keeping the hostel clean. They are just useless pigs.
B: Maybe there are about 50 of them, they're using one kitchen and they're cooking one place. Maybe I'm staying there and I want to cook porridge and meat and gravy. They're using one stove. So those people, they must try and get out from that place.
P.T. What amazes me is that those Inkatha members, or those in there, they are fighting not because of this political focus. In fact they are divided. There are those who are staying around Natal. They are fighting for an assumption of which we don't know, from those olden days. Apart from the Inkatha members, they are fighting each other.
D: For useless things.
Q: What do you think the people in the hostel, when they're fighting the residents, what do you think is going through their heads?
D: They think that they haven't got their families around our area, so even they kill young kids, so that is why they are so brave that they can kill anyone that they met, because their families are there in Natal.
P.T. And some of them their families are dead.
Q: So they have got nothing to lose.
P.T. And some of them they use these hostels as they are refugees from Natal. So Gatsha is being [inaudible],
Q: Well comrades, I think we should call it to an end, the meeting has come to an end. Thank you very much.
All: Yea, O.K., thanks.
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