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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 672

Paragraph Numbers 534 to 540

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 73

534 Not only did the violence of the 1990s claim more lives, its nature changed dramatically. Indiscriminate massacres in which gunmen opened fire on train commuters, people drinking in shebeens or sleeping in their beds became endemic. Violence against women, children and the elderly rose dramatically. The more generalised nature of the violence in the early 1990s is reflected in a wider age range of victims. However, the deaths of victims in the 25–36 age group show the most significant increase during this period. The number of women victims of killing also rose during this period, particularly in the 25–36 age group. By far the majority of victims of killing violations were, however, men.

535 The dominant forms of severe ill treatment occurring during this period were shooting, beating, and stabbing.

536 The major perpetrators identified are the South African Police and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

537 As the conflict continued, it become more sustained and pervasive and developed a momentum of its own. This was reflected in the intensified destabilisation of the political environment. In some areas, such as Soweto during the early 1990s and later in the East Rand, violence degenerated into an ongoing war of attrition with hundreds of people fleeing their homes to escape the killing.

538 Conflict between hostel-dwellers and residents of adjacent townships and settlements was a major site of conflict in this period. Since the 1976 attack by Mzimhlope hostel residents on protesting students in Soweto in which seventy people died, there had been a history of animosity between the two communities. This was exacerbated during the 1980s as the urban-centred nature of township politics frequently marginalised hostel residents.

539 The question of ethnicity gradually came to play a decisive part in the conflict between hostel-dwellers and township residents. After 1990, ANC-aligned organisations began calling for the abolition of the hostels and their replacement by family units. This fundamentally threatened the security of hostel residents who wanted to maintain their families and homes in the rural areas but could not afford to do so unless they could stay in the low-cost urban hostels.35

540 Allegations of forced recruitment in the Transvaal hostels were prevalent in the early 1990s and were attributed principally to the IFP, which was launched as a national political party in July 1990. Soon after this, the organisation began a vigorous recruitment drive in the Transvaal area where surveys had shown not only a lack of support, but overt animosity towards the organisation.36 The attempt by the IFP to politicise and manipulate ethnic identity was a powerful political tool and served as a springboard for Inkatha’s attempt to penetrate the urban Transvaal and launch itself as a national political force. For hostel residents themselves, ethnic identities were used as a means of coping in a hostile urban environment. The result was the political mobilisation of a defensive community along ethnic lines.

34 Please note that in 63% of killing violations, no perpetrator is recorded. 35 The Human Face of Violence: Hostel Dwellers Speak, Lauren Segal, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Seminar Paper no 6, September 1991. 36 Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE).
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