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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 699
Paragraph Numbers 627 to 638
Ethnic and territorial polarisation
627 A crucial component of the escalation of conflict in many townships was the emphasis on ethnic and political boundaries through territorial control of particular areas. Thus, at the beginning of the conflict between township and hostel residents, most non-Zulus were driven from the hostels, while squatter communities around hostels were repeatedly attacked, often leading to their decimation. A Zulu ethnic identity and IFP political affiliation became absolute prerequisites for residence in the hostels. Thus, ideological, ethnic, political and territorial fortresses were created. On the other hand, people of Zulu ethnic origin or IFP political affiliation or those simply suspected of either of these, were forcibly and violently driven from the townships and obliged to seek refuge in the hostels, thus further reinforcing divisions.
628 The meshing of territorial and political boundaries through extreme coercion is illustrated by the stories of two Soweto residents on opposite sides of the political divide. In May 1990, IFP member George Mncube [JB04474/0101GTSOW] was reportedly threatened with death by the chairperson of the local civic association and harassed by ‘comrades’ in Meadowlands, Soweto after he had tried to prevent the eviction of another IFP member. Eventually, he was forced to move out of the township into Dube hostel.
629 Ms Dudu Howard and Mr Nester Howard were killed because they were trying to move out of an IFP stronghold, Msingville, the squatter camp in Mofolo, Soweto during September 1991 [JB00256/01GTSOW].
630 Once territorial boundaries were established, they were violently defended, making it impossible for people to return to their homes. The consequence was that many people who could not be absorbed into family or friendship networks were left homeless and remain so to this day.
631 In Thokoza, a systematic programme of political coercion was undertaken from January 1993 in Phenduka section, an IFP stronghold where many former Khalanyoni hostel residents had fled after the hostel was destroyed by Phola Park residents. Residents of Phenduka reported that they had been forced to attend meetings, pay protection money and participate in self-protection units (SPUs). Those who did not conform were issued with ‘eviction’ notices by armed youths. Most of the victims were long-term residents of Thokoza.
632 At the same time, Zulu-speaking residents were also forced out of their homes by SDU members, in particular areas of Thokoza such as Unit F, Extension 2.
633 In Katlehong, a violent process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ was carried out against Zulu speakers living in the township. The majority of victims were shack-dwellers whose families came from Natal. Most of these people were forced to flee to the Kwesine and Buyafuthi hostels in Katlehong during May and July 1993 after their homes had been razed to the ground. Many people were targeted simply because of a perceived association with hostel residents, Zulu speakers or the IFP. Sections most affected included Mngadi, Radebe and Likole.
634 Ms Zondiwe Mtshali and her husband, Mr Benson Mtshali, were victims of the blurring of ethnic and political boundaries. Benson Mtshali was burnt to death in September 1993 because he was Zulu-speaking. His attackers assumed that this meant that he was an IFP member. Ms Mtshali told the Commission that she and her husband had faced harassment and ostracism before his death and that they had been forced to seek refuge with other Zulu speakers. However, because of their refusal to align themselves politically, they faced further difficulties.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, IN THE PERIOD 1990 TO 1994, ‘ETHNIC CLEANSING’ TOOK PLACE ON THE REEF, PARTICULARLY IN AREAS SUCH AS THE EAST RAND AND ALEXANDRA. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES BECAME IDENTIFIED BY THE LANGUAGE THEY SPOKE, THE CHURCH THEY SUPPORTED, POLITICAL MEMBERSHIP, AREAS THEY LIVED IN AND THE SCHOOLS THEIR CHILDREN ATTENDED. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE STATE, THE IFP AND THE ANC CREATED A CLIMATE OF POLITICAL INTOLERANCE IN WHICH THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WERE FORCIBLY DISPLACED FROM THEIR HOMES. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THIS CLIMATE OF POLITICAL INTOLERANCE FACILITATED THE COMMISSION OF GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MS ZONDIWE MTSHALI AND HER HUSBAND BUSA MTSHALI WERE VICTIMS OF THE ETHNIC POLARISATION THAT TOOK PLACE IN MOST OF THE REEF TOWNSHIPS. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT BUSA MTSHALI WAS KILLED BY SDUS BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT HE SPOKE ZULU AND WAS AUTOMATICALLY PERCEIVED TO BE ALIGNED TO THE IFP.
635 In March 1991, Alexandra was engulfed by a wave of violence. By the end of the month, seventy people were dead. Earlier, tensions had begun building in the township when the Civic Associations of South Africa (CAST) launched a campaign urging councillors to resign. A number of councillors, particularly the mayor, Prince Mokoena, had responded by joining the IFP. Mokoena also allegedly told KwaMadala hostel residents that the Alexandra Civic Organisation intended to demolish the hostel, fuelling hostel residents’ fears that they would lose their place in the urban areas. People living in the squatter settlements bordering KwaMadala hostel were the first to be violently attacked by the new KwaMadala hostel residents.
636 The violence resulted in geographical polarisation. Zulu speakers living in the township felt increasingly threatened and sought refuge in the main men’s hostel, the Madala or M1. At the same time, several hundred non-Zulu-speaking men living in the hostel felt at risk and left for the township. Roosevelt Street, previously a busy arterial road, now formed the main border between the two communities.
637 The Commission received statements from people who were displaced from their homes in Alexandra during 1992, many of whom remain homeless to this day. Ms Esther Grant [JB01763/01GTTEM] who lived opposite Madala hostel said she had to flee her home in 1992 because people were being “slaughtered”.
638 Ms Bertha Lesiba’s shack was burnt down on 9 February 1992, allegedly by ANC supporters who believed her to be an IFP member [JB02494/01GTTEM]. The Phetoane family was forcibly removed from home on 12 March 1992, allegedly by members of the IFP. Ms Jenifer Ramatlo was forcibly displaced from her home, allegedly by members of the IFP [JB01766/01GTTEM]. Ms Lettie Nyathi was displaced from her home, which was subsequently occupied by hostel residents during conflict between the hostel and township community in March 1992 [JB01773/01GTTEM]. Ms Mampi Mazibuko was displaced from her home during conflict between the IFP and ANC on 23 March 1992 [JB01776/01GTTEM]. Mr David Mofokeng was shot dead in January 1992. His mother, Ms Maria Makgajane was displaced from her home by IFP members [JB01879/01GTTEM].