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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 234

Paragraph Numbers 197 to 206

Volume 3

Chapter 3

Subsection 31

Zulu/Pondo conflict

197 The violence in Umlazi spread to the neighbouring Umbumbulu district, approximately twenty kilometres south of Durban. In December 1985 and January 1986, intense conflict broke out between Zulus and Pondos living in Umbumbulu, particularly in KwaMakhutha and Malukazi. By the end of January 1986, approximately 120 people had been killed and 20 000 people displaced from their homes in and around the township of KwaMakhutha.

198 The conflict was often referred to as ‘tribal clashes’ or ‘faction fighting’ and was attributed to intense rivalry for land, water and jobs. The ethnic nature of the conflict supported the state’s contention that political conflict in the province was ‘black on black’, and helped play down the failure of the security forces to intervene in a way that might have limited the scale of the suffering and loss.

199 According to researchers39, Durban’s squatter population grew from around half a million in 1979 to 1.3 million in 1985. This influx exacerbated the struggle for access to basic resources such as water, land and employment. Amongst those making their way to the city were thousands of Pondos streaming in from the Pondoland area of the Transkei in search of employment. Easily distinguishable from Zulus as a group, they were resented for encroaching on scarce resources. Land was allocated informally by powerful local figures and councillors controlled the scarce water supplies. Certain tribal leaders favoured Pondos, resulting in the establishment of Pondo enclaves.

200 In December 1985, the head of the Umbumbulu tribal authority, Chief Bhekizitha Makhanya, allegedly insisted that all Pondos living in KwaMakhutha without his permission should leave and return to the Transkei. The KwaZulu representative for Umlazi, Mr Winnington Sabelo (now deceased), also allegedly warned of more bloodshed if the Pondos did not leave.40 The Transkei administration, however, supported the Pondos’ refusal to leave the area.

201 Serious fighting broke out between Zulus and Pondos at Malukazi, Umlazi, on Christmas Eve of 1985, resulting in sixty-four deaths and up to forty-seven serious injuries. Reportedly, approximately 2 000 Zulus formed into impis and attacked 3 000 homes in the area.41 On 21 January 1986, a Pondo man was killed near Isipingo Rail. Two days later, some 500 Pondos staged a revenge attack on the home and shopping centre of the KwaZulu representative for Umbumbulu, Mr Roy Mbongwe. About 1 000 Zulu supporters arrived and there was a gun battle on the road between Umbogintwini and KwaMakhutha. The police arrested 553 Pondo warriors and confiscated truckloads of weapons. They were held overnight, charged with public violence and released on a warning. In the meanwhile, several Zulu supporters marched on KwaMakhutha where they looted and set fire to homes belonging to Pondo people. Between 4 000 and 10 000 shacks were razed. Police failed to disperse the attackers. The following day, the charred remains of bodies were found in the burnt-out buildings. It is estimated that forty-five people were killed that day. Estimates of the number of Pondos who fled KwaMakhutha that day range between 20 000 and 40 000 – some back to the Transkei while others sought refuge in and around Durban, hiding in the bush and in disused railway coaches.

202 The Pondo settlement at Malukazi, a few kilometres further south, was also affected by the Zulu–Pondo clashes. On 27 January 1986, the Pondo–Zulu conflict spread to Magabheni on the Natal South Coast. The number killed since December rose to 113. On 10 March 1986, the conflict spread to the factory floor at Umbogintwini AECI factory when about 900 Zulu workers downed tools in protest against management’s decision to rehire Pondo workers who had fled the violence.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLITICAL AND ETHNIC CONFLICT WHICH BROKE OUT IN THE UMBUMBULU DISTRICT IN DECEMBER 1985 AND JANUARY 1986 CLAIMED THE LIVES OF UP TO 120 PEOPLE AND RESULTED IN THE DISPLACEMENT OF SOME 20 000 PEOPLE FROM THEIR HOMES IN AND AROUND THE TOWNSHIP OF KWAMAKHUTHA. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT CONFLICT BROKE OUT IN THE CONTEXT OF DEMANDS AND THREATS MADE BY AN INKATHA MEMBER OF THE UMBUMBULU TRIBAL AUTHORITY THAT PONDOS LIVING IN THE AREA SHOULD RETURN TO THE TRANSKEI.
38 Headed ‘Probleemontleding van die onrussituasie in Natal’, Appendix A to SSVR/535/7/DD, para 4. 39 Race Relations Survey (RRS) 1986, published by the South African Institute of Race Relations. 40 Race Relations Survey (1986) 41 Race Relations Survey (1985).
Destruction of the Gandhi settlement, Phoenix

203 In August 1985, the settlement established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904 at Phoenix, outside Durban, was destroyed by fire and looting in violent clashes between Indians and Zulu nationalists. Gandhi’s house – known as Sarvodaya [for the welfare of all] was also destroyed. The settlement was a symbol of non-racialism, self-reliance and peace in South Africa. It was here that Gandhi formulated his philosophy and technique of satyagraha, the form of non-violent struggle that eventually led India to independence.

204 The then curator of the settlement, Mr Richard Steele, told the Commission that the conflict was sparked off by the killing of Ms Victoria Mxenge in Umlazi and the rapid escalation of violent clashes between supporters of Inkatha and the UDF. He said that Indians and Africans had been living together harmoniously for fifty years. At the time that conflict broke out, Indian families and traders came under a series of sustained attacks which were, according to Steele, “led by modern-day Zulu warriors wielding sticks and spears, shouting slogans to the effect that Indians must leave because this is all Zulu land”.

205 Forty-seven Indian shops were looted and razed by fire and 500 Indian families forced to flee. Other buildings destroyed included the Kasturba Gandhi Primary School. Steele noted that residents from a nearby informal settlement were seen stripping the buildings of materials for use on their own houses. Twelve woodand-iron houses belonging to Indian families on the settlement were burnt by Indian vigilantes who wanted to deny Africans the use of any building materials. Steele said that the police did little to intervene in the attacks as the government had already given these families and traders notice to leave Inanda, in terms of the Group Areas Act.

206 Attackers broke into and looted the Gandhi Memorial Library and Museum, Sarvodaya, Gandhi’s original house and the house built in 1944 by Gandhi’s son, Manilal. Steele, who was present at the time, said he saw someone leaving the Museum with a paraffin lamp that Gandhi had used while at Phoenix. He went up to him and, through an interpreter, explained that the lamp should not just be in one person’s house, but should be available for all people to see, because of the kind of person Gandhi was. The lamp was returned. Steele was able to rescue most of the books from the library and a few other items of no apparent use to the looters. Following the ransacking of the settlement, however, most of the buildings were reduced to smouldering ruins.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SETTLEMENT ESTABLISHED BY MAHATMA GANDHI AT PHOENIX, OUTSIDE DURBAN (INCLUDING A LIBRARY, A MUSEUM, A HOMESTEAD AND OTHER BUILDINGS) WAS DESTROYED IN AN ARSON ATTACK BY UNKNOWN SUPPORTERS OF THE INKATHA MOVEMENT IN AUGUST 1985. IN THE SAME INCIDENT, FORTY-SEVEN SHOPS OWNED BY INDIAN TRADERS WERE BURNT DOWN AND 500 INDIAN FAMILIES WERE FORCED TO FLEE THE AREA. THE MULTIPLE ACTS OF ARSON AMOUNT TO GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR WHICH UNKNOWN SUPPORTERS OF THE INKATHA MOVEMENT ARE HELD RESPONSIBLE.
 
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