SABC News | Sport | TV | Radio | Education | TV Licenses | Contact Us

TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 613

Paragraph Numbers 138 to 146

Volume 2

Chapter 7

Subsection 11


Historical and Political Overview

138 The effects of the watershed in South African politics following the February 1990 unbannings was also felt in the homelands. Throughout the years of CODESA I and II, as well as the multi-party talks at the World Trade Centre, homeland leaders and their political parties manoeuvred between the dominant players in the negotiations, including the ANC, the NP and various white conservative groupings. Driven by their own agendas, homeland governments took – and when necessary changed – sides in an attempt to position themselves in a post-apartheid South Africa. Foremost on these agendas was the issue of homeland re-incorporation into South Africa.

139 Two important events in the homelands proved milestones in the larger history of this period as they resonated throughout South Africa and, in turn, helped to direct the course of events in the country. The incidents occurred in homelands whose leaders had proved reluctant to surrender juridical independence and reincorporate into South Africa. In addition, the governments in both homelands showed themselves willing to engage in political brinkmanship in order to assert their power, particularly in the face of the ANC’s increasing centrality to the negotiations.

140 In the first incident, on 7 September 1992, the ANC organised a march from South African soil to the Ciskei capital of Bisho. The march was part of a campaign to open up areas for free political activity before elections could be held. Ciskei troops opened fire on the marchers, killing thirty people including a Ciskei soldier. The incident became known as the ‘Bisho massacre’. In the wake of the Boipatong killings and the ANC’s withdrawal from CODESA, negotiations teetered on the brink of collapse. Rather than pushing the country over the precipice and into full-scale violence, the events at Bisho rather contributed to an increased determination to find a peaceful settlement on the part of most political leaders.

141 If events in the Ciskei renewed the process of negotiations, then developments in Bophuthatswana provided a visible sign of the final collapse of the politics of armed reaction. Throughout the negotiation period, President Lucas Mangope had increasingly adopted a hard-line approach to the multi-party talks and to the ANC in particular. In the end, Mangope abandoned the negotiations altogether, announcing that he was prepared to take Bophuthatswana into the future on its own if necessary. As the date for elections drew near and popular resistance to the Mangope government intensified, Mangope called in members of the white right wing to help quell the opposition. In March 1994, the Bophuthatswana Defence Force, in conjunction with the SADF, took action against an estimated 5 000 armed members of the AWB who had answered Mangope’s call. In the process, a film crew captured footage of a member of the BDF murder an injured white supremacist in cold blood. As the politics of white armed resistance collapsed in the wake of the AWB’s ignominious withdrawal, the footage, which was broadcast around the world, became a symbol of the inevitability of change in South Africa. South Africa took over control of Bophuthatswana, installing an interim government under the Transitional Executive Council (TEC).

142 Two weeks after the Bophuthatswana clashes, the Ciskei government collapsed. A wave of strikes by Ciskei civil servants took place, culminating in a strike by police in the homeland’s capital, Bisho during which striking policemen took senior security force officers hostage. Within days Gqozo had resigned, the SADF moved in to take control and an interim administration under the TEC was set up.

143 By 1990, the Pretoria dream of independent homelands had not only collapsed but had become a serious problem for the South African security forces. Transkei, under Holomisa, had become an area which Pretoria regarded as a liberated zone for liberation movements; this resulted in various efforts by the South African security forces over several years to oust Holomisa. Once Gqozo took over in Ciskei on 4 March 1990, just after the national unbannings, South Africa moved rapidly to turn him against the ANC when it appeared he might follow Holomisa’s example.

144 The homelands became a crucial terrain during the 1990s. While it may have suited the security forces simply to close them down by enforced early incorporation into the rest of South Africa, this would not have suited the agendas of politicians on all sides: the ANC wanted territories such as Ciskei and Bophuthatswana closed down, but needed the organisational space offered by Transkei (apparently regarded as a bolt-hole should Pretoria suddenly crack down on the newly unbanned organisations again); Pretoria wanted control over Transkei but needed some of the other homelands as “independent” allies at the negotiating table (it is worth noting here that Ciskei invariably voted with Pretoria during negotiations); the right-wing later used some of the homeland rulers (including KwaZulu’s Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Ciskei’s Gqozo and Bophuthatswana’s Lucas Mangope) as allies in the Concerned South Africans Group (COSAG), a united black and white right-wing front formed in late 1992.

Responsibility for gross violations of human rights

145 The table below shows the percentages of types of gross violations which were reported to the Commission for this period:

Abduction Killing Severe ill treatment Torture Total
Homeland Non-homeland 3% 3% 36% 35% 55% 57% 6% 6% 100% 100%

146 The table shows a noticeable rise in the incidence of killing violations, both in homelands and in non-homelands (from 22 per cent in the 1983–89 period to 36 per cent in the homelands, and from 23 per cent in the same period for the non-homeland areas to 35 per cent); there is a corresponding sharp drop in the torture violations (from 20 per cent to 6 per cent of the homeland cases and from 24 per cent to 6 per cent of the non-homeland cases). This reflects the changing nature of violence in the 1990s following the unbannings, with the ending of the state of emergency nationally but also a corresponding drop in detentions and torture in the homelands (where the independent homelands were not affected by the national state of emergency).

Broadcasting for Total Citizen Empowerment
SABC © 2020