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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 647
Paragraph Numbers 438 to 446
438 By the early 1980s, nearly 1.3 million forced removals had taken place in the Transvaal. A further 600 000 people were scheduled for relocation in terms of the 1975 plan to consolidate the homelands. Urban relocation was implemented more thoroughly in the Transvaal than anywhere else in the country. Some townships were moved in their entirety to the nearest homeland, from where people would then commute. Strict labour recruitment measures and control on housing over the years restricted access to prescribed areas. Most ‘black spots’ (Africanowned land in ‘wwhite areas’ bought before 1913) were removed, but there was active resistance in the few that remained in the western and eastern Transvaal.
439 Although forced removals are not defined by the legislation as gross violations and thus do not fall within the mandate of the Commission, the resistance of communities to these removals led to confrontations which sometimes resulted in gross violations. Examples from the eastern, north-western and northern Transvaal are given below.
440 In the eastern Transvaal, the Driefontein Council Board of Direction, chaired by Mr Saul Mkhize, spearheaded resistance to the government’s plans for the removal of Driefontein. Residents were severely harassed by police, culminating in the fatal police shooting of Mr Mkhize at a protest meeting on 2 April 1983. According to the official police statement, Mkhize was shot dead by one of two young constables who had been sent to investigate a complaint that an illegal meeting was being held at Driefontein school. The crowd allegedly became ‘riotous’, forcing the two policemen to fire tear gas and retreat. The policemen then opened fire, fatally wounding Mkhize.
441 Mkhize’s death caused considerable embarrassment to the government because the imperatives of internal and international pressure at this time made the public display of brute force untenable. During the 1980s an attempt was therefore made to change government discourse around removals from ‘forced’ to ‘voluntary’.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE FORCED REMOVALS OF COMMUNITIES LED TO CONFRONTATIONS WITH THE AUTHORITIES. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR SAUL MKHIZE, A DRIEFONTEIN COMMUNITY LEADER, WAS KILLED BY THE POLICE DURING A MEETING HELD BY THE DRIEFONTEIN COUNCIL BOARD OF DIRECTION TO PROTEST REMOVAL FROM DRIEFONTEIN. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE KILLING OF MR MKHIZE CONSTITUTES A GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION FOR WHICH THE POLICE, THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER AND THE FORMER STATE MUST ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY.
442 For twenty years the north-western Transvaal communities of Braklaagte and Leeuwfontein struggled to stay on their ‘black spots’ near Zeerust, until they were forcibly incorporated into Bophuthatswana in December 1988. In April 1989, protest against the incorporation escalated into conflict, with intermittent school boycotts in both communities.
443 In Braklaagte, the Bophuthatswana Police allegedly set up roadblocks to stop pupils and ask them whether they regarded themselves as Bophuthatswanan or South African citizens. Those who said they were South Africans were allegedly struck with rifle butts. After the stoning of the house of a villager believed to be in favour of incorporation, police arrested more than 100 people and reportedly assaulted many of them. Doctors stated they had treated forty people for weals and wounds. In May, Bophuthatswana police clashed with residents of Leeuwfontein and allegedly assaulted many. Chief Mangope warned residents that the police were under his orders to maintain law and order in the area.
444 The conflict culminated in the killing of nine policemen and two civilians at a general meeting of the Leeuwfontein and Braklaagte communities on 1 July. The police reportedly halted the meeting, ordered the crowd to disperse and then opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets. Police asserted that they were surrounded and attacked and had no choice but to defend themselves. Four of the policemen died when an army vehicle was set alight, trapping those inside; the other five were clubbed, stoned and hacked to death. A number of people were arrested, some by the SAP. Some were alleged to have been badly assaulted.
445 Sixteen people were charged with the murder of the nine policemen. TRAC, which was present during the incident, and its parent body, the Black Sash, were banned under the Internal Security Act.
446 In April 1986, when the government unilaterally incorporated the northern Transvaal township of Vleifontein into the Venda homeland, residents protested fiercely. Venda-speaking residents of the former ethnically mixed Tshikota township had been moved to Vleifontein a few years earlier in anticipation of their ultimate removal to the homeland. However, when the government tried to implement this incorporation, they met with serious opposition, because residents had been misled about the reasons for their earlier move from Tshikota.