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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 99
Paragraph Numbers 233 to 248
UDF–Peacemaker clashes: Uitenhage, 1985–86
233 Uitenhage and its townships, KwaNobuhle and Langa, are a short distance from Port Elizabeth. Uitenhage is an important centre for the motor industry in South Africa, and the unions that organised in this sector had a strong influence on the development of civics in that region during the 1980s.
234 The enactment of BLA legislation in 1983 and the subsequent establishment of the KwaNobuhle Town Council in Uitenhage heightened political tensions. The sixteen councillors were elected unopposed in October 1983. Seventy-five per cent of them had been members of the previous community council which had also been elected unopposed in 1978.
235 In September 1984, the KwaNobuhle Town Council, faced with a fiscal crisis, decided to raise rents and service charges. Popular opposition to this decision (which was not implemented) combined with national opposition to the BLA system under the banner of the United Democratic Front. Uitenhage Youth Congress called for the resignation of the councillors and a boycott of their businesses. Councillors responded by installing police guards and getting personal firearms for their protection. In addition, a group of young men formed a vigilante group called the ‘Peacemakers’ in support of the councillors.
236 Violence escalated between September 1984 and March 1985, with violent attacks on councillors and police by amabutho being met by increasingly harsh responses from police and vigilantes, including indiscriminate shooting at individuals and groups, assaults on innocent people and prolonged torture in police cells. This violence also affected the township of Despatch, where the political funeral of Mr Lungile Nqgikashe on 15 September 1985 was followed by the arrest and torture of youth by police. When conflict developed over the use of the KwaNobuhle community hall in November 1984, the police openly backed the Peacemakers in their violent clashes with the amabutho. One Uitenhage police officer said:
The police regarded the Peacemakers as helpful in maintaining law and order and admitted that members of the Peacemakers were acting as informers for the security police.
237 Several violent incidents were reported. On 3 December, the home of metalworkers’ union official Mr Fikile Kobese was firebombed, killing his brother, Mr Leslie Kobese [EC0302/96UIT], for which the Peacemakers were blamed. Police broke up the vigil for Kobese on 17 December, detaining some of the mourners. The same day, Mr Zamuxolo Louis Mondile [EC2821/97UIT], a nephew of Councillor Benjamin Kinikini, was beaten to death by amabutho. On 16 January 1986, police opened fire on a crowd in KwaNobuhle; the next day three police officers’ homes were burnt down by amabutho.
238 In February, three KwaNobuhle councillors resigned. Another resigned early in March. On 12 March, almost all the remaining councillors resigned en masse, led by the Mayor, Mr Tini. Mr Benjamin Kinikini was not at the meeting where the resignations took place and was the only councillor who did not resign.
239 Violence escalated further after the Langa massacre of 21 March 1986 (see above). The houses of thirteen police officers were petrol-bombed, and all black police officers living in Uitenhage’s two African townships had to be moved to temporary accommodation. Revenge attacks against those suspected of collaboration became rife. This led to the burning down of the houses of eighteen suspected ‘collaborators’ at Tinis, another township near KwaNobuhle, and the killing and burning of at least seven suspected informers or ‘sell-outs’, including Councillor Benjamin Kinikini.
UDF–AmaAfrika clashes: Uitenhage 1985–86
240 The beginning of 1986 saw the beginning of a violent conflict between the UDF and AmaAfrika in KwaNobuhle. AmaAfrika was led by the Reverend Ebenezer Maqina, who had been expelled from AZAPO in Port Elizabeth in January 1986. It was formally established in Port Elizabeth in December 1987, although it had been in existence for some time before this. Its forerunner was the African Persons Concerned Committee (APCC). AmaAfrika soon came into conflict with the UDF when it objected to the consumer boycotts and to the undisciplined actions of township youth aligned to the UDF following the detention of UDF leaders in June 1986.
241 Violence erupted in January 1987 when a march through KwaNobuhle, organised by the APCC and protected by SAP vehicles, led to the death of up to four people, the assault of many others, and the burning down of at least ten houses belonging to leading UDF activists. The intention was to purge the township of political organisations and activities which were “holding the township to ransom”, to create space for government reforms and negotiations, and to prepare for councillors to return to the township as Regional Services Councillors.
242 The violence, which continued after January 1987, resulted in the deaths of many people from both the UDF and the AmaAfrika. Municipal police were deployed to establish control in the township. By 1988, nine separate court cases had been brought against the municipal police for assault and other charges including rape and theft. By September, more than 300 families had fled from their Uitenhage homes. By this time, AmaAfrika was suffering from internal divisions and there was less open collusion with the police. Many people detained under emergency regulations were released, and the situation in KwaNobuhle was brought to the attention of international and national bodies.
243 The following cases brought to the Commission occurred in one incident on 28 December 1989, when thirteen youth who were abakhwetha (initiates at circumcision school) were attacked by AmaAfrika vigilantes in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage.
244 Ms Miriam Nombulelo Manziya testified about the death of her son, Mr Mthuzimele Philip Manziya [EC0636/96UIT] in Khayelitsha, Uitenhage, on 28 December 1989. He was aligned to the UDF and was ‘guarding’ the abakhwetha from the AmaAfrika group. His mother later heard that police had teargassed the group guarding the abakhwetha, chasing them into the hands of the AmaAfrika members. Manziya was hacked with axes and knives and died of his wounds three days later. Thirteen people were allegedly killed by AmaAfrika in this incident; three bodies were hidden and found later. Manziya was buried with nine others on 13 January 1990.
245 Ms Nodoli Lillian Solani testified about the death of her son, Mr Vusumzi Solani [EC0635/96UIT], who was also killed in this incident. His decomposed body was found by police two weeks later, on the path to Despatch.
246 The case of the AmaAfrika vigilantes is significant as it represents an overlap between two categories of violent conflict with African communities — interorganisational political conflict, and vigilante conflict. While sharing many of the characteristics of vigilante groups elsewhere, the AmaAfrika were perceived to have an ideological basis in Africanism as well as an organisational basis in either the PAC (through individuals such as Mr Timothy Djantjies who had been PAC members in the days before its banning) or AZAPO (through the connection with Reverend Maqina). Members of the community did not understand the ideological differences and sometimes referred to the vigilantes as ‘AmaAfrikas or AZAPOs’. Reverend Maqina’s involvement in the Uitenhage conflict is confusing; also from Africanist roots, he established an organisation called AmaAfrika in December 1987, and denied it was the same organisation as that which had operated in Uitenhage earlier in that year28 .
247 Mr Mncedisi Sithotho testified at the Commission’s Uitenhage hearings in his capacity as a former UDF leader from Uitenhage, giving the Commission a background on the conflicts. He explained how, after the consumer boycotts of 1986, people had to move from the old part of KwaNobuhle to Khayelitsha, where rents were higher. On 28 December 1986, a decision was taken to lift the consumer and schools boycotts in the new year. The community was to be informed by pamphlets of this decision, which would be implemented on 5 January 1987. However, on the morning of 4 January, KwaNobuhle was surrounded by police Casspirs. Escorted by the police, vigilantes marched through the township, attacking the houses of UDF activists. Homes of UDF leaders were destroyed and their relatives attacked. Mr Sithotho explained that some of those in the vigilantes’ march were not politically active, but were compelled to join; others were glad of police support as they wanted to crush the youth. The conflict continued until 1989, when a peace agreement was reached. He was of the opinion that the conflict was designed to crush the emerging democratic forces. It was not, in his view, a manifestation of ‘black on black’ violence but rather a manipulation of the situation by Military Intelligence. There is, indeed, evidence that Military Intelligence was involved in financing the Uitenhage Concerned Group, which later became known as AmaAfrika. Some UDF members joined the AmaAfrika. Hundreds of people fled from their homes and went into hiding or took refuge elsewhere as a result of this violence. UDF leaders were detained, whereas AmaAfrika leaders were not. Many of the participants in AmaAfrika are now members of the PAC.
248 Mr Mandla Konci testified to the same hearings as a former member of AmaAfrika, now chair of the PAC Uitenhage branch. He explained how an organisation called ‘Save the Starving Community’ was established in Uitenhage around 1982, including both Africanists and ‘Congress’ supporters. Some, like Djanties, were involved in this group but did not want to affiliate to the UDF when the latter was formed. There were thus ideological divisions within the African community of Uitenhage. In March 1986, the conflict began to deepen. Members of the organisation wanted to establish a branch of AZANYU, the youth wing of the Africanist movement. They were then forced to go and live in Khayelitsha. In May 1986, one of the members was killed, and the feud started in earnest. Konci admitted that “the Boers tried to use us, to fan the conflict in Uitenhage”, but denied that they were given protection by the police, and claimed that they were also arrested and assaulted: “Rumours that we worked with the police are surprising”. He said there was continuity between the AmaAfrika and the PAC branch today.28 See Rory Riordan, Evidence in mitigation of sentence, in which he interviews Maqina.