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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 601

Paragraph Numbers 260 to 270

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 39

The state and allied groupings
The Vaal uprising

260 The Vaal uprising was sparked by the announcement of a rent increase by the newly elected Lekoa Black Local Authority in September 1984. The ensuing conflict led to a large number of deaths and to the occupation of the area by the South African Defence Force (SADF).

261 On the first day of clashes between police and residents in the Vaal, fourteen people died and at least thirty-two were injured. By the end of the month, ninety people were dead, among them four councillors. The government moved quickly to try and stem the violence.

262 The Vaal Civic Association responded to the proposed rental increase by calling for a public stay away from work and school, scheduled for 3 September 1984. An estimated 60 per cent of workers stayed away and almost 93 000 pupils in the Vaal Triangle boycotted classes.25 Two thousand Sebokeng residents marched to the Houtkop Administration Board Offices to protest against the rent increases.

263 Widespread violence broke out. Councillor Motjeane’s husband, Mr Caesar Motjeane [JB03870/01GTSOW] was one of three councillors killed in the first days of the uprising. He was hacked, shot, stoned and burnt to death. The house of Councillor Ntsoereng [JB01046/03VT] was burnt on September 5. Shops, bottle stores, a bus depot, a school and a beer hall were set alight and hundreds of cars were damaged.

264 Councillor Sonny Mofokeng [JB01048/03GTSOW] was one of the first councillors to be targeted in the hours after the outbreak of violence in Sebokeng in September 1984. His home, his father’s home and his business were burnt to the ground:

I saw a group of people coming towards my direction and they were shouting. I listened to them and they were saying they wanted Sonny Mofokeng and I tried to get a look at those people. They were armed with pangas as well as knobkierries heading towards my direction. And I went into the house. I told my wife what was happening outside. I also told my three children that I had seen people armed and coming towards my direction singing that they wanted Sonny Mofokeng and I warned them that we should escape for our lives. I opened the car, I put my children as well as my wife in the car because at that time my wife was expectant … they were pelting my house with stones.

265 Mofokeng and his family sought refuge at the local police station. Over the police radio he heard about the death of two other councillors. Later that night there was an announcement that his house was on fire.

266 Residents reported that they were assaulted and shot at without provocation by police patrolling the Vaal townships. As the violence intensified, police used tear

gas and rubber bullets, and later birdshot and buckshot. Official figures stated that at least fourteen people had died and eight policemen and thirty-two civilians had been injured. However, residents and church leaders claimed that the figures were much higher, alleging that at least 250 people had been injured.

25 SAIRR Survey 1984, p 71.

267 Conflict quickly spread to the neighbouring Vaal township of Sharpville. Private homes – including the house of an SAP warrant officer, beer halls, administration board buildings, buses and cars were stoned and set alight. The deputy mayor of Sharpville, Mr Sam Dhlamini, was hacked and stabbed to death. In Boipatong, the administration offices, a post office and a councillor’s house were set alight. In Bophelong, the council offices and the home of an SAP warrant officer were burnt down.

268 The police placed all councillors’ homes under guard. Transport into the township had virtually come to a standstill. People injured in the clashes were afraid to go to the hospital for fear of being arrested.

269 Residents wounded in police shootings were presumed to be perpetrators, irrespective of whether they had been involved in any offensive action such as stone-throwing or petrol-bombing. Many of those injured reported being detained or, if too seriously wounded, placed under police guard in hospitals before they recovered sufficiently to be imprisoned.

270 Mr Ramorakane Simon Mohajane [JB00824/03VT] was detained rather than hospitalised after being shot by police while standing outside his friend’s home:

It was on a Sunday the 8th September 1984 … a group came from the other direction running … I only heard a blow on the head and it was from a gun. I was shot. I fell and I was asking myself what is happening. And the whites were around me trampling on me, kicking me and they even sprayed their tear gas on my face … They were wearing soldiers’ camouflage … They were trampling on me, they were kicking me. I don’t have some of the teeth in my mouth. As I was lying on the ground they were continually teargassing me. I cannot see as I am talking to you now. I am blind. I have been to many doctors and they said to me you will never see until you die …
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