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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 669

Paragraph Numbers 522 to 525

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 71

Inter-organisational conflict

522 Although the 1980s were fairly quiet in terms of inter-organisational conflict compared to the 1990s, political divisions did lead to some violence, in particular between adherents of Black Consciousness and Charterist organisations such as the UDF.

523 Violence seemed to occur primarily between the youth or student branches of the UDF-aligned student organisation, COSAS, and the Black Consciousness student organisation, AZASM. A variety of violent methods were employed in the battle for ideological supremacy, including hand grenade attacks on homes. Conflict occurred primarily in the urban townships of Soweto, Tembisa, Mohlakeng and Alexandra, but one Commission deponent reports violence from as far afield as Lebowa in the northern Transvaal.

524 Conflict erupted early in 1985 when groups of Black Consciousness-aligned activists disrupted a rally at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto which was to have been addressed by Senator Edward Kennedy from the United States. The resulting conflict involved abductions, kidnappings, killings, bombings and attacks on homes. The president of AZAPO, Mr Ishmael Mkhabela, alleged that the last nine months of 1985 saw at least four members of AZAPO killed, nineteen attacked, thirteen arrested and thirty-three of its members’ houses burnt in UDF–AZAPO conflict. Sites of conflict included Dlamini, Tladi, Moletsana, and Orlando East.

525 A few people came to the Commission to testify about this conflict. The two witnesses who testified at the Commission’s Soweto hearings were both mothers whose sons had been killed in apparently targeted assassinations. Mr Walter Dhlamini (19) [JB00331/01GTSOW] was shot dead on his way home from school, allegedly by members of AZAPO. Mr Lereng Mahau (22) [JB00419/01GTSOW] was stabbed, stoned and necklaced, allegedly by UDF members, after attending the funeral of another youth killed in the conflict. Despite their youth, both Mr Dhlamini and Mr Mahau were long-term political activists. Dhlamini had been repeatedly detained and tortured by local police before his death. Mahau had recently been released after serving a five-year term on Robben Island for sabotage. Before they murdered him, Mahau’s attackers allegedly accused him of thinking he was ‘smart’ because he had been to Robben Island.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT ONE OF THE LEGACIES OF APARTHEID WAS THE POLITICAL DIVISION THAT EXISTED IN COMMUNITIES BETWEEN THE CHARTERISTS AND THE ADHERENTS OF THE BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS MOVEMENT. WHILST RECOGNISING THE ROLE THAT THE STATE PLAYED IN EXPLOITING THE DIVISIONS IN COMMUNITIES, THE COMMISSION FINDS NEVERTHELESS THAT THE STUDENT FORMATIONS OF THE UDF AND AZAPO, NAMELY COSAS AND AZASM, WERE ENGAGED IN BATTLES FOR IDEOLOGICAL SUPREMACY AT COMMUNITY LEVEL. THE BATTLES WERE BLOODY AND RESULTED IN A NUMBER OF DEATHS AND INJURIES, ALONG WITH A NUMBER OF HOMES BEING BURNT. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE POLITICAL INTOLERANCE BETWEEN RIVAL POLITICAL GROUPINGS RESULTED IN THE GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FOR WHICH THE UDF AND AZAPO ARE FOUND TO BE RESPONSIBLE.
 
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