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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 710

Paragraph Numbers 670 to 677

Volume 3

Chapter 6

Subsection 92

Union conflict

670 In the far East Rand township of Ratanda, disagreement between workers over the need for a strike at the Escort Bacon Factory coalesced around two unions – the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the United Workers Union of South Africa (UWUSA), set up by the Inkatha Freedom Party. The conflict inevitably became drawn into the wider battle for political control that was being waged on a local level all over the PWV.

671 The labour dispute in Ratanda led to ongoing conflict in the area between July and December 1992, including attacks on homes and the petrol-bombing of buses taking workers to and from work. Violence peaked in August, a month before FAWU workers returned to work in September. Some IFP members joined the COSATU-aligned FAWU, rather than its Inkatha counterpart, UWUSA, because they believed that FAWU could represent their interests more effectively. However, Inkatha members assumed that those who joined FAWU had associated themselves with the ANC. Workers who belonged to both the IFP and FAWU thus became targets of attack. Similarly, it was assumed that people who belonged to UWUSA were necessarily members of Inkatha and became a targets of attack.

672 Mr Sipho Wellington Ndumo [JB02993/01ERKWA], a member of UWUSA, was attacked and stoned by a group of students in Ratanda in 1992 because of his IFP membership.

673 It was not long before political, ethnic and territorial polarisation began, with non-UWUSA members being violently forced out of the hostel. On 24 July 1992, after an early morning explosion at the hostel, FAWU members fled. Residents of the squatter settlement, Mandela Village, located opposite the hostel, were systematically attacked over the next month, precipitating a mass exodus that left the hostel residents completely isolated.66

674 The Commission received a large number of statements from victims of two bus attacks. Both took place as buses turned into Protea Road, about 250 metres from the hostel. During the first incident on 28 September 1992, a bus carrying workers from the Escort Bacon Factory in Heidelburg to the local township, Ratanda, was attacked with hand grenades. One person was killed and thirteen injured. A woman lost her leg.

675 Ms Deborah Jokazi [JB03472/01ERKWA], one of the victims of this attack, describes why in the context of the conflict between UWUSA and FAWU, the bus in which she was travelling became a target of attack:

On the 28 of September in 1992, we were FAWU members … We were all from work, but there were UWUSA people who used to use a different transport and we FAWU were using a different transport… It was a public transport but, during that time, because there was a fight between FAWU, FAWU wanted their own transport and they were also using their own transport.

676 She alleges that she saw a “boy” outside the hostel pointing at the bus and that the police teargassed the bus after hand grenades had been thrown at it:

677 On 14 November, a bus carrying people back to Ratanda from a sports event organised by the ANCYL was raked with gunfire as it turned into Protea Road, about 250 metres from the hostel. Approximately twenty rounds of ammunition were fired. One person died and eight others were injured.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT CONFLICT BETWEEN IFP AND ANC HOSTEL DWELLERS IN RATANDA ON THE EAST RAND EMANATED FROM A LABOUR DISPUTE AT THE ESCORT BACON FACTORY. THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE TWO UNIONS INVOLVED WERE FAWU, AFFILIATED TO COSATU, AND UWUSA, A UNION SET UP BY THE IFP. THE DISPUTE LED TO VIOLENT CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO UNIONS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS, INCLUDING ATTACKS ON THE HOUSES OF UNION OFFICIALS AND THE PETROL BOMBING OF BUSES TRANSPORTING WORKERS TO AND FROM WORK.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE IFP-ALIGNED UWUSA LAUNCHED AN ATTACK ON FAWU MEMBERS ON 24 JULY 1992, FORCING THEM OUT OF THE HOSTEL. THE COMMISSION FINDS UWUSA AND THE IFP RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISPLACEMENT OF FAWU WORKERS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT FAWU WORKERS USED DIFFERENT BUSSES TO AND FROM WORK AND THAT, ON 28 SEPTEMBER 1992, A BUS CARRYING FAWU MEMBERS FROM WORK WAS ATTACKED WITH HAND GRENADES, KILLING ONE PERSON AND SEVERELY INJURING THIRTEEN.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, ON 14 NOVEMBER 1992, A BUS CARRYING FAWU WORKERS BACK TO RATANDA FROM A SPORTS EVENT WAS ATTACKED 250 METRES AWAY FROM THE HOSTEL AND CAME UNDER GUNFIRE, KILLING ONE PERSON AND INJURING EIGHT OTHERS.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT, ON A BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES, THE ATTACKS ON THE BUSES WERE CARRIED OUT BY IFP-ALIGNED SUPPORTERS.
65 Human Rights Committee. 66 See statement JB001705/01ERKWA.
 
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