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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 382

Paragraph Numbers 243 to 252

Volume 2

Chapter 4

Subsection 26

Rent boycotts

243 The first recorded rent boycott was undertaken by residents of Vaal Triangle and Evaton in September 1984, in protest against increases that were apparently the highest of all black townships in the country. This form of protest spread to other parts of the country. In some communities, the strategy resulted in divisions among local residents and put the lives of community councillors and others at risk. For example, in August 1991, Mr Solomon Ramahase Motlohi [KZN/TIS/003/BL], a rent collector, was severely beaten in Botshabelo, allegedly by young ANC members. There was a rent boycott and Motlohi was targeted because he encouraged people to pay rent at street-committee meetings. Youths took him from his office to a house where he was assaulted. He died on the way to hospital.

Mass campaigns

244 The MDM initiated and implemented a number of campaigns with the objective of politicising the masses. While some mass campaigns proceeded relatively smoothly, others were marred by violent outbreaks and casualties.

245 In its submission to the Commission, the former UDF leadership recognised that the campaigns had:

unintended consequences [which] could in some instances fall within the definition of gross violations of human rights such as assaults, loss of life and causing extreme fear among perceived and real opponents of the struggle for freedom and democracy.
Anti-Black Local Authorities Campaign (Anti-BLA)

246 The campaign to destroy black local authorities was one which resulted in such “unintended consequences”.

247 Community councils were established in 1977 to replace the former Urban Bantu Councils (UBCs). The Community Councils’ powers were expanded in 1982 (under the Black Local Authorities Act) to include the allocation of housing, business licenses, business sites, student bursaries and the collection of rents. Elections under the expanded powers were held in November 1983 amid vigorous anti-election campaigns, led by the UDF, the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) and other organisations. Election candidates and elected community councillors were subjected to attacks on their homes, mainly in the form of petrol bombings. In 1984, thirty such petrol bomb attacks were reported.

248 Another source of contention was the abuse of the makgotla (community courts). These often became institutions of abuse, corruption and victimisation of residents. In June 1976, “five youths and a woman had to receive hospital treatment … after being flogged by three lekgotla (court) members for breaking school windows”. In some cases, makgotla took the form of vigilante groupings.

249 The legislation made provision for community guards who were also responsible for assaulting residents, allegedly under the guidance and protection of community councillors. In March 1980 community councillor Mr David Thebehali’s “All Nations Guard” in Soweto, was reported to have assaulted people.

250 Councillors came under violent attack. For example, Mr Caeser Motjeane [JB 03870/01GTSOW] a community councillor at Sebokeng Zone 11, was stoned, hacked, shot and burned to death by alleged members of the UDF on 3 September 1984. Ms Maud Motjeane, his wife, claims that they had previously been assaulted by a mob. The family property was looted and burned.

251 By April 1895, twelve councillors had been killed and many councillors began to heed the call for their resignation. By May 1985, 197 community councillors had resigned from sixty town councils and many local authorities had collapsed.

252 In some areas, attacks on community councillors provoked organised resistance by councillors. For example, from October 1985, councillors in Phillipstown organised their own resistance force against residents. Clashes between this group and other residents resulted in assaults, destruction of property and even death. Police were allegedly colluding with the councillors in orchestrating attacks against residents.

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