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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 17

01:48For three days this week the Uitenhage town hall was filled to capacity as people came to observe and participate in the work of the TRC’s Human Rights Violations Committee. On Tuesday the hearing was dedicated to a single event: a massacre which took place at Langa township on March 21 1985 when police shot and killed at least 19 people, though the community claims the number dead could be as high as 43. It was the 25th anniversary of Sharpeville, but to the people of Uitenhage that day marks the beginning of a year’s long binge of violence, the memory of which is still fresh.Full Transcript and References
02:30The witnesses testified as a group, each one telling their chapter of the story which began as it would end, with a funeral. Almost 2000 people planned to travel from Langa township to KwaNobuhle on the other side of Uitenhage for the burial of six people killed by police during a stay-away the week before. Tension between police and township inhabitants was running high. Symbolically it came to a head in the buffer zone between white and black Uitenhage.Full Transcript
03:03We were getting to a funeral in KwaNobuhle and we were walking down Maduna street and there was a hippo opposite my home and we stood there. And this hippo was trying to disperse us, but we walked further until we got to section 16. Just down the hill there were hippos parked next to the John Wesley Church. There was a Rastafarian from us who went to those hippo and he came back and we decided to stop singing, because he said that these whites were saying, we are not going to proceed to KwaNobuhle.Full Transcript and References
03:57First victim was seventeen year old Kwanele Bucwa who was riding his bicycle at the head of the procession of mourners. // And I was riding in front of the crowd of people who were chanting songs and there were two hippos at the back of them. There was one policeman who lifted up whose name was Lieutenant Fouche, who I got to know later on. After I had been shot I fell down and I dislocated my arm and I could hear the shooting going on. After the shot they came back to me and kicked me trying to find out whether I was still alive. I pretended to be dead and they went on to other people. And I lay on my back after they had kicked me. And they were again checking on other people as to whether they were still alive. And they were kicking, still shooting other people to death. Full Transcript and References
05:14It was at Khlamthini when I was hit by a bullet and I heard some shooting sounds and I felt something on my right ankle. People were turning round and running and I don’t know what happened. Then I lay there on the ground. I was the first person to be taken. And I could see some people were being shot. I could see these people lying down there on the ground. They had some bottles placed on their hands.Full Transcript and References
05:52Police claimed that the crowd of people who were shot at were armed with sticks, stones, petrol bombs, and bricks with which they had intended to attack the white inhabitants of Uitenhage. Minister of Law and Order, Louis Le Grange immediately appointed judge Kannemeyer to head up a commission of inquiry into the shootings. Full Transcript
06:11That morning when I came onto the stand, I was going to tell Mr. Kannemeyer can forget about that affidavit, this is what actually happened, because that thing has been signed under pressure.Full Transcript
06:22Joseph Jacobs Berry was one of the ambulance drivers called to Maduna road on the day of the massacre. // And because of the code of the caller I got, I knew that this was an extreme emergency and not only that it was an extreme emergency but that it was a shooting case. So all speed has to be gathered to get to that scene. Unfortunately, when we got to the entrance of Hillwag we were blocked by the SAP. So much so and for so long that by the time that we did gain entrance ambulances of Kirkwood as well as Port Elizabeth arrived on that scene. I had to go and wash my hands and the only ideal place was the sluice room. So when I entered the sluice room I saw these bodies lying there and one of them was still breathing. So I knelt down to see whether I couldn’t help. And I thought hell, let me go and call the doctor, but when I turned around Doctor Viljoen was standing in the door. And I said, Doc, but this person is still alive, and breathing. And he said ‘Ag hy gaan maar ...moreFull Transcript
07:33After testifying to the Kannemeyer Commission about what he’d seen that day Berry fell victim to his own honesty. // What I did then, I’d say it within the next 100 years I did for the sake of justice. And never will I regret that. Yes, I do regret losing my job. // What I’m actually saying is that the people that did all these wrongs and that caused all these troubles, hey man, they then got promoted. They retired with golden handshakes.Full Transcript
08:14The Kannemeyer Commission found that the evidence of the police about the number of weapons carried by the crowd was exaggerated. No petrol bombs were thrown at the police and that there was no rain of stones as they had claimed. The Commission also found that the police were not properly equipped for riot control, that they only had lethal ammunition namely R1 rifles and SSG shot for shotguns. Fouche, who gave the order to fire knew that such an order would lead to fatalities. However the Kannemeyer Commission found that he could not be criticized for his decision to give the order and that no individual could be held responsible for the slaughter.Full Transcript
08:51In the wake of this massacre black Uitenhage was a bomb waiting to explode. The community had barely buried its dead when in 1986 it experienced the forced removal of 48 000 people from Langa to KwaNobuhle. The nationwide state of emergency saw mass detentions of the UDF leadership. Consumer and school boycotts were in full force. Tension came to a head in KwaNobuhle where political division, a scarcity of resources, and the state’s manipulation of differences led to a new cycle of conflict. Between 1986 and 1990 the feud between the UDF youth known as Amabutho and Africanist supporters, known as Ama-Afrika engulfed the community in horrific violence. Gail Reagon was there.Full Transcript and References
09:42Early morning January 4 1987. Simmering tensions in KwaNobuhle erupted into full-scale violence. A march by Ama-Afrika, widely perceived as a vigilante group, led to at least four deaths, numerous assaults, and attacks on the homes of UDF members. Mandla Konkie and Mncedisi Sitoto were both there, but on opposite sides.Full Transcript
10:12I was merely commanding, telling people not to do this in this particular area or what what. At no stage as a person did I throw even a stone. Mine was to direct the people. // Within the march there were those that were communicating very carefully as to who is staying where in terms of UDF activities. My home was raided. All the leadership of UDF activists’ houses were raided.Full Transcript and References
10:49According to residents the police were in full force but did nothing to halt the destruction. A UDF supporter told the Commission how he was attacked by Ama-Afrika and after a day in hiding was arrested by the police who then took him to Ama-Afrika’s headquarters where he was assaulted again.Full Transcript
11:10They took me to Sotwai at number 9. That is a place in Khayalitsha. That was at night. And when we got there, still handcuffed as I was, there were some people that were dressed in big coats and they had sjamboks, they had some arms with them. And they stood in front of this house. There was also Kimoti Dandi who was their leader and he was imprisoned at the time. So this policeman said to them they should assault me, but not hit me on the head. But beat me up on the body. I was still handcuffed. They pushed me and I fell down and they beat me. Full Transcript and References
11:57There are a number of affidavits that I’ve read where people said that this wasn’t just Ama-Afrika’s base, it was also a torture centre for people in disagreement with Ama-Afrika. // I will very much disagree with such affidavits. And for that matter, we came across them and we challenge…who was moving around collecting such misinformation. The reality is that definitely people were losing lives from both camps. We had lost valuable figures among ourselves and I would assume as well that the other group had also suffered the same problem. But to say this was a torture house, that’s utter rubbish.Full Transcript
12:441987 was a turning point. The violence got worse. As young men in particular got mowed down on both sides, mothers and fathers became the ultimate losers. Mirriam Manziya’s son was hacked by Ama-Afrika members after police forced him to run in their direction. She saw him just before he died. // Then he lifted one hand. He again lifted one foot trying to show to me that he was not paralysed. And then he turned round and that is when I noticed five wounds at the back. And he also had one wound on the head, where he had been hacked.Full Transcript and References
13:34They told me later on that he had been castrated, and the eyes had been gorged out of the body. // He had been shot and they had taken out one right eye and they had slit him on the neck and this is what I observed too. When I went there he had died. // And I found my son there within the bushes and his trousers were down and he was only bones.Full Transcript and References
14:18Peace finally settled in KwaNobuhle in1990. Yet, the question remains. How did things get so bad? And was the conflict purely ideological? // Because UDF by then had already taken a position that they are going to propagate or rather adopt a Freedom Charter. So, you can also read from there, that the Africanists refused to get into UDF because of the Freedom Charter. Then it’s clearly ideological, more than anything else. // Was it simply a fight between Africanists and Charterists? // While we’ll admit at leadership level that something that happened to be of under-currency a question of ideology. But in terms of how the levels of our communities got effected one will tend to pursue a question that the cause is more than as to say it was of ideology. // The system got into the whole process because it saw us divided. That’s when it got into the gap, whichever way they got into, whether they used who and who, but the gap was created by us: both camps.Full Transcript
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