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The glossary provides an explanation of places, groups, vernacular terms and events discussed in the TRC hearings.

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Select 'references' to view references to each term in transcripts, lists and the Final Report. Select 'export' to download the database on this page.

Glossary

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NameDescription
Silverton bank siegeOn 25 January 1980, MK operatives held people hostage in a raid on a bank in Silverton, Pretoria. In a shoot-out with the police, three operatives and two civilians were killed. References
six-day warIn early 1986, security forces moved into the township of Alexandra, Johannesburg, after community structures had successfully expelled town councillors from the area. On 15 February of that year, the killing of a student activist set off a spiral of violence. Residents clashed with police when police attempted to disperse the funeral gathering on 17 February. The conflict continued unabated for six days, resulting in around 27 deaths.References
sjamboka long whip, originally of rhino hideReferences
Sofasonke Partyan anti-ANC group backed by Lebowa President Nelson Ramodike. In 1989 Sofasonke members attacked residents of villages around Bushbuckridge, Lebowa, whom they believed to be opposed to the Lebowa government.References
Sonkombo arson attacksA series of arson attacks that took place on 16 and 20 March 1994 and were carried out by IFP supporters, allegedly assisted by members of the KZP, on residents of the isolated ANC stronghold at Sonkombo in Ndwedwe, KwaZulu, near Durban, in the run-up to the April 1994 elections. ANC supporters also attacked the homes of IFP supporters on the same days. Approximately 58 deaths were recorded. Hundreds of refugees, from both sides of the conflict, were evacuated from the area by peace monitors and members of the ISU that month.References
Soweto uprisingOn 16 June 1976, police opened fire on approximately 10 000 school students in Soweto during a protest against the compulsory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools. The shootings provoked extensive unrest and protest throughout Soweto, spreading over the following months to several other regions in South Africa, particularly Cape Town. Around 575 people were killed, 390 in the Transvaal and 137 in the western Cape. Over 2000 people were injured. Arrests, deaths in detention and trials followed the revolt, and the first members of the 'Class of 76' left South Africa for training in armed resistance.References
spazaa general supply store, locally-run in urban township and rural areasReferences
Special ConstablesKnown colloquially as ' kitskonstabels' (instant constables), 'blue lines', or 'bloupakke' , Special Constables were recruited from urban and rural areas and were usually unemployed African men with few educational qualifications. Many were illiterate and some had criminal convictions. Training was conducted in September 1986 at the SAP's Koeberg facility outside Cape Town and consisted of a six-week course, later increased to three months. The training was perfunctory and involved only one seven-hour course in riot drill. The training presented the UDF and ANC as the enemy to be suppressed. By the end of the 1980s, approximately 8 000 Special Constables had been recruited, trained and deployed in urban and rural towns across the country where unrest was the strongest. In KwaZulu/Natal they were used to bolster Inkatha in areas around Pietermaritzburg and the Natal Midlands. Special Constables rapidly became associated with numerous violations both on and off duty, and were the subject of several interdicts. They were themselves victims of attacks by both civilian internal opposition groups and the armed forces of the liberation movements.References
states of emergencyA state of emergency was declared on 20 July 1985 in terms of Section 2(1) of the Public Safety Act of 1953. It affected 36 magisterial districts in the Cape, Transvaal and the Orange Free State, and was extended to eight other areas on 26 October 1985. It was lifted on 7 March 1986 and re-imposed again on 12 June 1986, this time applying to the whole of the country. The state of emergency was re-imposed in June every year until the April 1994 elections.References
stokvela community-based co-operative savings schemeReferences
Swanieville attacksOn 12 May 1991, approximately 1000 Inkatha hostel residents from Kagiso, Tvl, attacked residents of the neighbouring Swanieville informal settlement in retaliation for the earlier abduction of two hostel-dwellers by Swanieville residents. About 115 shacks were set alight, 27 people were killed and 25 vehicles were burnt. Twelve people were charged with crimes ranging from murder to arson, but were acquitted due to lack of evidence.References
Table Mountain bus attacksA series of public vehicle ambushes in the Table Mountain area, near Pietermaritzburg, in early March 1993. On 2 March 1993 , masked men wearing army uniforms and armed with AK47 and .303 rifles opened fire on a vehicle carrying IFP supporters from Mboyi to school in Maqongqo in the Table Mountain area. Six pupils were killed and seven others injured. Three of the deceased were children of the local IFP chairman. Three ANC members from the area were arrested and charged. On 5 March 1993 , armed IFP supporters ambushed a taxi in the Table Mountain area, allegedly in retaliation for the killing of the six IFP-supporting pupils on 2 March 1993. On 8 March 1993 , armed IFP supporters ambushed a bus in Swayimane, Table Mountain area. The bus was taking 80 ANC supporters to attend the court appearance in Pietermaritzburg of three men implicated in the 5 March ambush in the same area. Three men and a woman were killed and at least 16 people injured in the attack on the bus.References
Taxi violenceIntense competition between taxi operators for ranking facilities and routes escalated from 1991 and acquired a political character in certain areas of the western Cape and Transvaal. Over 200 lives were lost in attacks on taxis and passengers in 1992 alone. Organisations formed to bring about peace and unity in the taxi industry failed to reach understanding or maintain agreements, and violence continued throughout the 1990s. Certain town councillors and other groups were linked to taxi violence in Cape Town. On the East Rand, taxi associations were perceived to be identified either with the IFP or the ANC.References
Three Million gangA vigilante group, operating with police support, formed to counter the activities of the UDF and the ANC in the Kroonstad area, OFS. They conducted frequent random attacks on perceived political activists between 1984 and 1993.References
Toaster ganga vigilante group active in Tembisa, Tvl. The gang consisted largely of former 'comrades' expelled from the ANC in Tembisa. Initially, the gang specialised in car hijackings. When the Tembisa community began to mobilise against it, the Toaster gang aligned itself with residents in the IFP-controlled Vusumuzi hostel. Gang members and hostel-dwellers played a significant role in political conflict in Tembisa in 1992 and 1993.References
Tokoza attacksSixteen people were killed and ten injured when ANC self-defence unit (SDU) members opened fire on IFP supporters on their way to a meeting at the Tokoza stadium on the East Rand, Tvl, on 8 September 1991. The attack happened on the eve of the signing of the National Peace Accord on the East Rand. Forty-two people died and at least 50 were severely injured in violence that broke out between ANC and IFP supporters in the two days that followed. The attack was initiated by an SDU member acting on the instructions of his commander, who was later found to be a police informer.References
toyi-toyia dance performed during protest marches and demonstrationsReferences
train violenceTrain violence first emerged in July 1900 with a series of attacks on commuters travelling on the Johannesburg-Soweto line, leaving one person dead and about 30 injured. Between 1990 and 1993, approximately 572 people died in more than 600 incidents of train violence. What started as unplanned group attacks and individual killings became more frequent planned, orchestrated incidents involving large groups of people. Gunmen would open fire from railway station platforms or spray commuters with bullets from inside coaches. Perpetrators of such attacks were intent on causing general terror rather than achieving a clear political objective. Train violence appeared to have been initiated by groups opposed to a democratic transition and the possibility of an ANC-led government. Both IFP members and members of the security forces were implicated in perpetrating attacks.References
Trojan Horse incident, Cape TownOn 15 October 1985, members of the South African Railway Police hid in wooden crates on the back of a railway truck and opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Athlone, Cape Town, killing three youths and injuring several others. The operation was planned and implemented by a sub-structure of the regional Joint Management Centre. It was repeated in Crossroads, Cape Town, the following day, killing a further two youths.References
Trojan Horse incident, DespatchOn 18 April 1985, a municipal truck loaded with branches drove past the Nomathamsanqa Higher Primary School in Despatch, eastern Cape. Scholars were on boycott at the time, but were playing games in the school grounds. The truck was stopped by youth in the street. The driver got out and fired a gun into the air, at which police officers emerged from under the branches and opened fire on the group of youths, hitting six people. Four died and two survived. References
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