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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 461

Paragraph Numbers 230 to 232

Volume 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 30

The Umlazi cinema massacre in August 1985

230 On 1 August 1985, Victoria Mxenge, an UDF executive member, was murdered at her home in Umlazi, Durban. A memorial service was held in her honour in the Umlazi Cinema building on 8 August 1985. Whilst the service was in progress, hundreds of Inkatha vigilantes armed with assegais, knobkieries and firearms burst into the cinema, and began randomly stabbing and shooting at the mourners. In the attack, fourteen people were killed and many others injured. Witnesses allege that the attackers included Inkatha vigilantes recruited from the adjacent shack settlements and from Lindelani, north of Durban. The soldiers and police were allegedly still present but did not act to prevent the attack. This was the worst incident yet of clashes between Inkatha and UDF. A document prepared by the Secretariat of the State Security Council in March 1989 had the following to say regarding the violence surrounding the murder of Victoria Mxenge:

Die moord op mev Victoria Mxenge, n radikale prokereur van Umlazi, op 1 Aug 85 waarvoor die UDF die blaam op Inkatha en die SAP geplaas het, was die grootste aanleidende faktor tot ernstige gewelddadige konflik tussen die UDF en Inkatha, veral in die groter Durban-gebied. Grootskaalse onrus het tot Maart 1986 voortgeduur en selfs die noodtoestand (Junie 1986) kon nie die sporadiese gewelddadige voorvalle inhibeer nie.

231 Inkatha failed to condemn or distance itself from the violent actions of the above-mentioned Inkatha-aligned vigilante groupings from Lindelani and Chesterville. Another example of an Inkatha-aligned vigilante grouping is the AmaSinyora from KwaMashu (see below).

232 During the early 1980s, Chief Buthelezi still had high standing in the international community and amongst South African (white) businesspersons. Part of this was due to Inkatha's official and international rhetoric of non-violence. This was indeed true of Inkatha's stance towards the South African government and the white electorate. Inkatha supporters did not bomb shopping centres or defence force installations, or kill black Security Branch members. However, Inkatha members clearly employed violence against the ANC/UDF and against other extra-parliamentary opponents of the state, as did members of the UDF. The following quotes from speeches made by Chief Buthelezi at Inkatha meetings or in the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly during the early 1980s indicate an increasingly militaristic tone emerging in his addresses to his constituency:

I want to find out whether our members think that adopting the following attitudes is consonant with non-violence or not: If someone hits you with a bare fist, must you not take off your boxing gloves and hit back at him. Is it the right thing to run away and be branded a coward?
If need be we will call for an eye for an eye and for a tooth for a tooth. However much we loathe revengeful politics, if that is the only way we can survive these unwarranted attacks on us, whether through rhetoric or real force, we will rather go into that kind of political action for our survival. I believe we must prepare ourselves not only to defend property and life but to go beyond that and prepare ourselves to hit back with devastating force at those who destroy our property and kill us.
I have stated that our commitment to peaceful change does not take away the inalienable right which every individual has to defend himself or herself... We cannot, just because we are a peaceful movement, lie down so that people can trample on us or destroy us without lifting a finger.
Because we are committed to non-violence it does not mean that we are prepared to lay ourselves down as sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered by those who oppose us with violence.
 
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