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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 96
Paragraph Numbers 218 to 232
Resistance groupings and counter-mobilisation
UDF–AZAPO clashes: Port Elizabeth, 1985–86
218 1985 and 1986 saw the evolution of inter-organisational conflict in the Port Elizabeth-Uitenhage area, with manipulation by the security forces (see Volume Two). The conflict started between AZAPO and the UDF in Port Elizabeth; later it developed into a violent conflict between the UDF and an organisation called AmaAfrika in KwaNobuhle. This conflict emerged at a time of education boycotts and developed into increasingly violent clashes between UDF-aligned youths and security forces and those regarded as their allies, such as community councillors. A prominent feature of these conflicts was the use of fire in attacking opponents – arson attacks on houses and burning of people. By 1985, the ‘necklace’ method of killing was being used, which involved placing a tyre around the victim and setting him or her alight.
219 Up until late 1984, there had been no political violence to speak of in Port Elizabeth. By September 1984, the UDF was becoming increasingly antagonistic towards the BLA and Mr Thamsanqa Linda, who later became the mayor of Port Elizabeth’s BLA. Schools boycotts also began, leading to clashes between scholars and riot police. Clashes between youths and police and between youths and BLAs continued.
220 During 1985 and 1986, the battle between the UDF and AZAPO tore the Port Elizabeth townships apart. Although the UDF–AZAPO conflict had national parallels, in this region much of the conflict appears to have centred around relations between the UDF and Reverend Mzwandile Ebenezer Maqina, who was aligned to AZAPO. Maqina had a background in the BCM and was banned until 1983.
Tension between Reverend Maqina and the UDF started in 1984 over responses to the education crisis. Maqina opposed the school boycotts, which made him unpopular with COSAS.
221 The conflict in Port Elizabeth became violent in April 1985. On 6 April, at the funeral of AZAPO member Patata Kani, Reverend Maqina claimed that he had been threatened by members of COSAS, marking the beginning of the ‘feud’. The end of that month saw the first of several attacks on UDF leadership by AZAPO members; there were allegations that Maqina himself was involved in at least one attack. Counter-attacks followed, with leaders on both sides being targeted.
222 The feud led to a large number of attacks, rendering many families homeless. One clash in June 1985 involved 600 to 1 000 UDF and AZAPO supporters, killing two. Most attacks involved petrol bombs, knives, axes and similar weaponry; some guns were also used, and one MK attack on Maqina involved hand grenades. There were also allegations by both sides of ‘third force’ involvement in the conflict.
223 The Commission received several submissions in connection with this lengthy feud. Reported incidents included the abduction and assault of Mr Mono Badela [EC0217/96KWT] by AZAPO members. Badela’s home was also petrol-bombed. Mr Edgar Ngoyi [EC1602/97SBR] was assaulted and his home was petrol-bombed. Mr Ernest Malgas’s [EC0001/96PLZ] home was petrol-bombed on three occasions and Mr Sicelo Apleni [EC0304/96PLZ] was shot and injured.
224 By May 1985, the conflict had spread to Uitenhage where it emerged as a conflict between the rival metalworker unions in the auto industry, namely the National Automobile and Allied Workers’ Union, whose members supported AZAPO, and the UDF-supporting Motor and Component Workers’ Union [MACWUSA] and its ally the Uitenhage Youth Congress [UYCO]. Also in May, the conflict spread to Grahamstown AZAPO and UDF affiliates.
225 The two weeks from 30 April to 11 May saw a number of violent attacks. On the 8 May, the ‘PEBCO Three’ (Mr Sipho Hashe [EC0003/96PLZ], Mr Champion Galela [EC0005/96PLZ] and Mr Qaqawuli Godolozi [EC0004/96PLZ]) were abducted and killed by the security forces. This further increased tensions in the area. On 10 May, Mr Mkhuseli Jack went to Reverend Maqina’s home with a large crowd, demanding the release of four youths who were being held by him. One reporter noted that: “The crowd made it clear that there was no fight between the UDF and AZAPO, but that it was between Maqina and the community”. Maqina claimed that the youths had been ‘apprehended’ on their way to attack a home in New Brighton, tied up and beaten. The police and SADF intervened, secured the release of the four and took three of them into custody, while one was hospitalised. Maqina denied the allegation that AZAPO held informal courts and commented at the time:
The only thing we usually do when we apprehend some youngsters attacking homes of our members, in particular mine, is to keep them at my place and send for their parents who talk to them. Then we release them. I know of two youngsters from Dora Street who were given some form of deterrent punishment after they admitted being members of a UDF action committee. They were also involved in certain acts of violence against our members.
226 On 16 June, an MK member attacked Reverend Maqina’s house and car with hand grenades. Two days later, the home of UDF leader Mr Ernest Malgas was petrol-bombed; it was the third such attack and ten youths were burnt. Before the end of that month, Maqina’s home had again been attacked with hand grenades and firearms and at least one person was injured.
227 By early July, eighty to ninety UDF families and fifty-five AZAPO families were estimated to be homeless as a result of the feud.
228 In June, the ‘Cradock Four’ were abducted and killed in a clandestine operation by the security forces. The security forces tried to make it look as though the four UDF activists had been killed by AZAPO members (see below).
229 On 22 July, at the funeral of the ‘Cradock Four’, the first partial state of emergency was declared in the Eastern Cape. Most of the local UDF leadership was detained under emergency regulations; many were tortured in detention. On 13 September, thirty-nine AZAPO leaders and supporters were arrested at a commemoration meeting for Steve Biko in Uitenhage. They were later charged with holding an illegal gathering and some were severely assaulted in custody.
230 On 24 December, UDF leader Mr Edgar Ngoyi was released on bail. He met with Reverend Maqina and they made an agreement in terms of which the hundred AZAPO members under Maqina’s protection would not be attacked. Just a few weeks later, in early 1986, AZAPO distanced itself from Maqina, claiming that he had been expelled from the organisation. AZAPO members returned home and, to a certain extent, the truce held. However, on 15 July 1986, the AZAPO regional chairperson, Mr Sonwabo Ngxale, was killed. By the end of that month, a national state of emergency had been declared and thousands of activists were detained.
231 Street and area committees set up by UDF activists in early 1986 involved ‘people’s courts’ to deal with local problems and avoid having to deal with police. Following the mass detentions of the state of emergency, however, the amabutho (UDFaligned vigilantes) sometimes took over these structures and committed violent actions such as ‘necklacings’.
232 During 1987, the violence between AZAPO and UDF died down to some extent. At the beginning of 1988, the situation was ‘normalised’ to the extent that services such as post offices were reopened in the townships and work began on the electrification of Kwazakele. However, the violent conflict between AZAPO and UDF flared up again, this time in Walmer township. Three people died in a week of fighting, including former Azanian Students’ Movement (AZASM) chairperson, Mr Xolisile Mnyaka.