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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 285

Paragraph Numbers 314 to 327

Volume 3

Chapter 3

Subsection 51

Hostel Violence

314 In the early 1990s, Inkatha undertook a vigorous recruitment drive in township hostels. Until that time, relations between hostel-dwellers and township residents had been cordial. However, this changed after February 1990 when township residents tended to join the unbanned ANC.

315 Hostels became Inkatha’s point of entry into the township: all hostel residents were compelled to join Inkatha or leave. Inmates were required to attend all functions organised by Inkatha. Hostels became Inkatha strongholds and no-go zones for township residents. Strangers entering the hostels were frequently suspected of being from the township and were killed.

316 Similarly, the townships were identified as ANC strongholds and were no-go zones for the hostel-dwellers. Hostel-dwellers travelling through the township to get to and from the hostel were frequently attacked by township youth. The violence in the Bruntville township outside Mooi River in the Natal Midlands is illustrative.

317 The township of Bruntville, near the farming town of Mooi River in the Natal Midlands, was administered by a town council set up under the Black Local Authorities Act of 1982. Around 1990, Mooi River Textiles (Mooitex) was the largest employer in the area. About two-thirds of its labour force lived in the company’s hostels located in Bruntville. The hostel-dwellers were predominantly Inkatha-supporting and members of UWUSA. In contrast, the township residents were predominantly ANC-supporting and members of COSATU.

318 On 8 November 1990, sixteen township residents were killed by approximately 1 200 hostel-dwellers and other Inkatha supporters who were allegedly brought into the area to assist in a pre-dawn attack. About 1 500 people, mainly women and children, fled their homes.

THE COMMISSION NOTES THE KILLING OF SIXTEEN PEOPLE ON 8 NOVEMBER 1990 IN A PRE-DAWN ATTACK ALLEGEDLY LED BY APPROXIMATELY 1 200 HOSTEL-DWELLERS AND INKATHA SUPPORTERS, AND THE CONSEQUENT DISPLACEMENT OF UP TO 1 500 PEOPLE FROM THEIR HOMES IN THE AREA. AS IN MANY OTHER AREAS WHERE SINGLE-SEX HOSTELS (INHABITED BY THE MORE TRADITIONAL INKATHA-SUPPORTING MEN) WERE SITUATED ADJACENT TO TOWNSHIPS (WHICH HAD ACTIVE CIVIC AND YOUTH STRUCTURES), TENSIONS AND CONFLICT DEVELOPED. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT INKATHA-SUPPORTING HOSTEL-DWELLERS WERE SUBJECTED TO PROVOCATION AND ATTACKS FROM ELEMENTS OF THE YOUTH.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THIS UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOUR CONTRIBUTED SUBSTANTIALLY TO THE CONFLICT. HOWEVER, THE OVERWHELMING NUMBERS OF PEOPLE WHO DIED OR WERE INJURED WERE NON-IFP TOWNSHIP RESIDENTS. THE SCALE AND EXTREME BRUTALITY OF THE PRE-EMPTIVE ATTACKS CARRIED OUT BY THE INKATHA-SUPPORTING HOSTEL-DWELLERS ON NEIGHBOURING TOWNSHIP RESIDENTS CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED. ELDERLY PEOPLE, WOMEN AND INFANTS WERE KILLED IN A MOST CALLOUS AND BRUTAL MANNER. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE SAP WERE AT BEST HOPELESSLY INCOMPETENT IN THEIR EFFORTS TO PREVENT OR CONTAIN THE CARNAGE AND, AT WORST, COLLUDED WITH THE ATTACKERS BY OMISSION. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT LOCAL AND REGIONAL IFP STRUCTURES DID VERY LITTLE TO INTERVENE.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE KILLING OF SIXTEEN PEOPLE ON 8 NOVEMBER 1990 WAS CAUSED BY UNKNOWN SUPPORTERS OF THE IFP FROM THE BRUNTVILLE HOSTEL, CONSTITUTING GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH UNKNOWN INKATHA-SUPPORTING HOSTELDWELLERS ARE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

319 Violence continued throughout the following year.

The Attack on the Majola Family
The chairperson of the Bruntville ANC, Mr Derek Majola, and his wife Mavis were killed on 24 April 1991 when four armed men wearing balaclavas attacked their home. Their four-year-old daughter was seriously injured in the attack [KZN/NN/377/MR].

320 While the township residents were frequently disarmed and subjected to weapons searches by members of the security forces, hostel-dwellers often paraded through the township, openly brandishing their traditional weapons. In October 1991, the ANC called a stay away boycott to protest against what they perceived to be discriminatory treatment.

321 On the night of 3–4 December 1991, eighteen people were killed when large groups of IFP hostel-dwellers launched two large-scale attacks on houses and residents in the township. Many allegations were made that the police were reluctant to intervene in the attack. Victims and survivors say that the police never approached them for statements. There were no prosecutions in connection with the massacre.

322 Pensioner and ANC member Joseph Sabelo Mthethwa told the Commission his story of what happened that night. He arrived home from work at 18h00 and noticed a large group of men gathered outside the hostel. Soon afterwards, he heard gunshots, and people came running past, shouting that Inkatha was attacking them. He remained in his home until the fighting died down. A while later there was a knock on his door. It was someone from the hospital to tell him that his twenty-two year old son, Nkosinathi, had been killed [KZN/ZJ/306/EST]. Late that night, SADF members conducted a weapons raid throughout the township. In the early hours of the next morning, the hostel-dwellers launched a second attack on the township residents. Mr Bongeni Alson Majola lost his wife in the pre-dawn attack:

It was on the third of December. There was some noise outside and the soldiers were moving around the streets, patrolling … that night, we did not sleep. At about 4.00 am we heard some gunshots from outside and we woke up and looked at White City, and we could see the Inkatha impi at White City, going around burning people’s houses. And at my in-laws’ place, we saw a certain house, Mr Zuma’s house, being burnt down and my wife jumped and went out. She wanted to go and check my [six-year-old] son, who had gone to my in-laws to visit, and I was left with the daughter.
By the time she got to the place, they had already finished burning the house and they were coming towards our place, and they came across my wife. And there’s a certain person I was working with by the name China. His other name was Sidney Zulu. And he tried to hold my wife. Amongst the other people who were hiding themselves they saw him grabbing my wife, and my wife pushed this man and went to knock at the door, and this group of people followed my wife. And the other one took out an assegai and stabbed my wife …
We tried to get some transport, but people had run away because they were scared that they would be attacked. When I got to her I touched her. I saw a little hole just above her breast, and when I turned her over, I saw that she had been stabbed from the back and the assegai went through to the front. That’s when the police came. They took her with [them].

323 On being asked whether he had reported his wife’s killing to the police, Majola answered:

It was not easy for me to submit a statement because I learnt my lesson at first when Mr du Toit [a policeman] told us that there were some cattle that had been slaughtered, and when we went to the mortuary we realised that he was referring to the people … They were referring to our loved ones as dead cows which had been slaughtered earlier on, so I did not want to report the matter to the police.

324 Ms Janet Madlala (65), her daughter Ria and three granddaughters aged eighteen years, six years and eighteen months lived in one of the homes targeted in the hostel-dwellers’ pre-dawn offensive. Ria and the girls were able to climb through a back window and run away. The attackers gave chase and caught up with Thando (18) [KZN/NN/318/MR], whom they stabbed to death, and the six-yearold, whom they pounded with a rock and left for dead. Ria hid in a pit latrine with the baby. When all was quiet again Ria emerged from her hiding place and went in search of her family.

I was rushing home to try and rescue my mother. When I got to the house the house was filled with smoke and I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t even see where my mother was. I was not able to go into the bathroom to fetch some water. I asked for water from the opposite house and they gave me water. They also helped me to try and put out the fire until I was able to put out the fire, and I went inside. I found my mother sprawled in the passage.
The way that she had been stabbed the whole place was just a pool of blood. She had twenty-four stab wounds. I think everybody just took his turn to stab. I tried to pull her outside because the house was still burning. I dragged her outside and I was trying to extinguish the fire all at the same time …
Thereafter we tried to get some transport to ferry these people to the hospital, because I have a strong belief that had she been taken to the hospital in time she would have survived, but the police and the soldiers refused. They said that they were not able and they were not going to take anyone to the hospital.

325 The police never took any statements from any of the Madlala family concerning the events of that fateful night. As a result of her experiences of that night, Ria says:

I was very traumatised. I lost a great deal of weight. I wasn’t able to eat for quite a long time. I even went to Ladysmith, to my sister, and I became quite reclusive. I couldn’t mix with other people. They even had to take my child for a period of two years, and they were also complaining that she was having panic attacks. She was always scared, and at times they would wake up and pray in the evening, pray for my daughter.

326 The Goldstone Commission inquiry into the violence in Bruntville on 3–4 December 1991 showed that, of the nineteen people killed, eighteen had died of wounds inflicted by weapons other than firearms (assegais, knobkierries, pangas and bush knives).

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE KILLINGS CONSTITUTE GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH UNKNOWN INKATHA-SUPPORTING HOSTEL-DWELLERS ARE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

327 A total of fifty killings and thirty-eight cases of severe ill-treatment were reported to the Commission for Bruntville and Mooi River for 1991. The corresponding figures for the previous year were six and eleven respectively.

 
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