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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 27

Volume 3

Chapter 1

Subsection 16

1989 Detainee hunger strikes begin in January when long-term state of emergency detainees across the country, some of whom have spent over three years in detention without trial, embark on hunger strikes. Gradually, many are released.
The Democratic Party is launched in April as an amalgamation of three white political parties to the left of the NP. The UN Transitional Administration Group (UNTAG) is installed in Namibia to oversee elections.
David Webster is assassinated by Ferdi Barnard and other CCB operatives in Johannesburg in May. The ANC, UDF and COSATU adopt the Harare Declaration in July, outlining the conditions for negotiations. The Declaration is later ratified by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations.
The Defiance Campaign, a passive resistance campaign, is launched in July by the ‘Mass Democratic Movement’. The first known meeting between President PW Botha and Nelson Mandela takes place in July. (This follows several secret meetings between representatives of the government and the ANC from 1985.)
The last general election for the Tricameral Parliament takes place in September, marked by nationwide protest action and repression. On election night alone, over twenty people die in Western Cape townships.
A massive ‘Peace March’, protesting against police repression, is permitted to go ahead in Cape Town on 13 September.
Anton Lubowski, a SWAPO activist and lawyer, is shot dead in Windhoek in September. FW de Klerk becomes State President on 20 September after the resignation of PW Botha in August and introduces a series of reforms over the following years. The National Security Management System is replaced by the National Co-ordinating Mechanism (NCM). The State Security Council is stripped of many powers. Many of its sub-structures are dismantled, excluding STRATCOM.
Walter Sisulu and seven other high profile prisoners (seven ANC members and one PAC member) are released by FW de Klerk in October. On the eve of his scheduled execution in October, Butana Almond Nofemela confesses to the hit squad activities of security police at Vlakplaas. He is later supported by his commander, Dirk Coetzee, and David Tshikalanga.
Operation Victor, one of several security force operations in Namibia, aims at reducing SWAPO majority support. SWAPO wins national elections in Namibia in November and Namibia becomes independent in March the following year.
In the Motherwell bombing, Port Elizabeth, in December, three police officers and an informer are killed when their car is blown up by fellow police officers to prevent possible revelations of police involvement in the killing of the Cradock Four.
The Pan-Africanist Movement (internal wing of the PAC) is launched.
1990 The Berlin Wall falls in February, the symbolic end of the ‘communist threat’ and used by FW de Klerk as a justification for a ‘liberalisation’ of strategy.
FW de Klerk announces the unbanning of liberation movements and other organisations, the release of political prisoners, the lifting of restrictions on thirty-three organisations, and a moratorium on judicial executions on 2 February.
Nelson Mandela is released on 11 February.
President FW de Klerk appoints the Harms Commission of Inquiry into certain murders in February to look at possible hit squad activity and the Civil Co-operation Bureau. Violence breaks out outside Pietermaritzburg between 25-31 March in what becomes known as the ‘Seven Day War’, resulting in the loss of over two hundred lives, and the flight of up to twenty thousand people from the area.
Police open fire on a protest march of 50 000 people in Sebokeng in March, killing eight and injuring over 300. Brigadier Oupa Gqozo seizes control of Ciskei in March, deposing Chief Lennox Sebe in a bloodless coup. This is followed by a brief period of liberalisation.
The Chand family in Botswana is killed in the last Vlakplaas cross-border raid in April.
Father Michael Lapsley is seriously injured in a letter bomb explosion in Zimbabwe in April. The Venda government of President Frank Ravele is overthrown by military coup in April. During student protests at Viljoenskroon, Orange Free State on 19 April, police open fire on a march, killing five and injuring many others. Exiled ANC leaders arrive in the country in April for talks with the government. On 5 April, President De Klerk and ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela meet in Cape Town. Negotiations begin in May, resulting in the Groote Schuur Minute which allows for the release of political prisoners, the return of exiles and the amendment of security legislation. The Indemnity Act is introduced in May, providing for the granting of temporary or permanent indemnity against prosecutions for exiles returning to South Africa.
The countrywide state of emergency is lifted in June. A partial emergency is declared in KwaZulu-Natal and lifted on 18 October 1990. Senior ANC and MK personnel including Mac Maharaj are detained in July 1990 in a state crackdown on ‘Operation Vula’. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is launched as a political party in July. Violence in the Reef begins in July, following local opposition to an IFP recruitment drive in Transvaal hostels which culminates in a rally in Sebokeng on 22 July. After the rally at least twenty-seven people are killed, followed by counter-attacks. (This spiral of violence continues, increasing in 1992).
The first train attack takes place at Inhlanzane Station in July. This marks the start of a series of attacks on train commuters in the Witwatersrand. Between 1990 and 1993, at least 572 people die in more than 600 incidents of train violence.
The Pretoria Minute is signed by the ANC and the government in August. The ANC suspends the armed struggle.
Violence on the Reef and in the Natal Midlands escalates in August. AWB members open fire on a bus full of black commuters in October in Durban, apparently in retaliation for a fatal knifing incident in Durban by PAC supporters.
The state of emergency is lifted in Natal on 18 October. A mass march against the local town council in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on 25 October, ends in violence with at least eight deaths. (The march follows several months of conflict between the local ANC-aligned structures and town councillors). The Harms Commission Report rejects confessions made by Dirk Coetzee, and other security police officers in November. It absolves the security police at Vlakplaas from responsibility for hit squad activities but finds the CCB broadly culpable of politically motivated violence.
Sixteen people are killed at Bruntville, Natal in November in an attack led by hostel dwellers. Approximately 1 500 people are forced to flee their homes.
Former Transkei Defence Force MI chief, Lieutenant Colonel Craig Duli, dies on 22 November while attempting to overthrow the military government of Major General Bantu Holomisa in Transkei. (Duli is supported by the South African security forces).
Mandela pledges that MK members will help form and train self-defence units (SDUs) to protect communities from attack by security forces or vigilantes. SDUs are established in many townships across the country.
Compulsory military service (conscription) is ended and the SADF is withdrawn from townships. Vigilante activities by the Three Million Gang (reported as active from 1989 to 1992 in the Orange Free State) target UDF and ANC activists, student organisations and SDUs for attack. The SDUs violently oppose the group.
The killing of political leaders and activists in Natal escalates.
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