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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 5 of Episode 20

TimeSummary
27:39During the second half of the 1980s many black communities were suffering under internal conflicts. Victim became perpetrator; perpetrator became victim. Let’s take a hard look at vigilantism and gangs. But first, the story of the notorious A-Team in Durban. This is Hané Koster’s report. Full Transcript and References
28:00During the 1980s the township Chesterville, south of Durban, was UDF territory. One of the people that mobilized the community was Thandi Memela. She motivated the youth, including her own son, to join the UDF and was involved in getting people out of the country and bringing in weapons. But things turned sour. The UDF started harassing other people who did not want to join in their activities. One of their victims was Sylvia Mbongwa. They petrol bombed her house and attacked her, but her son, who was staying in the outbuilding, chased them away with a toy gun.Full Transcript
28:35As he took that out they ran away and I also went out to them. I said ‘what is it you want from us?’ They said ‘because you’re impimpis.’ I don’t know what you call them, informers or what. ‘You don’t want to join us when we fight these whites, the police and councillors, you don’t want to join us killing the councillors, the police; etcetera.’ I said ‘no we’ll never ever join that.’ Full Transcript and References
29:06Then the other side, those branded informers, started hitting back. People in the township started referring to them as the A-Team after an American television series. Members of the community say the police assisted the A-Team, but they deny this saying that when they were in trouble the police never bothered to show up. They say the reason they were branded impimpis’ was simply that they had more money and good jobs. Thandi Memela says the A-Team harassed and killed people and burnt their houses. Her house was also set alight.Full Transcript
29:39It was the A-Team, Dan Mtembu and Mtombeni family and Mpansa family and Cebekhulu’s boy and many others, and the Isaacs. I won’t forget those, Musa and Popi. Full Transcript and References
30:00Today, Dan Mtembu, one of the people she implicated, works for an insurance company. He denies that he ever attacked anybody, but says that he did defend himself against what he calls the tsotsi element. And about the house he says.Full Transcript
30:15She has never had her house burnt in the first place, let me tell you. There could have been a few incidents where people threw stones at each other, but that house – as far as I’m concerned – has never been burnt, whilst I was still there, it was never burnt.Full Transcript
30:28She lied to the Truth Commission.Full Transcript
30:35Phemba Mpanza faces the difficult choice of either living in Chesterville after being labelled an impimpi or trying to make a new life elsewhere. He decided to stay. Dan moved out years ago. They agreed that the troubled community is still not addressed. Even today, Angelina Magwaza, is still too scared to show her face when she tells how her son Buti was killed. She heard that the A-Team killed him and that Phemba Mpanza was involved. Phemba says that he shot back when he was being fired upon. He reported the incident to the police and later they told him that he had killed Buti Mkwasa.Full Transcript and References
31:08Some people feel that Thandi is one of those who started all the trouble, but Thandi may have had a reason for behaving as she did. She was a fighter and she paid a price. Her son was killed by police in a shootout and she was not allowed to see his body. She lost her possessions and was harassed by the special branch, especially Andy Taylor.Full Transcript
31:28I want to request the Truth Commission to investigate the A-Team and try to find out as to in reality who were behind the A-Team, who were sending them to conduct this reign of terror? When I followed De Kock’s case, De Kock did admit that he had something to do with the death of my child and Andy Taylor was the spearhead of the Vlakplaas unit in Natal.Full Transcript
32:04Thandi says she went to the Commission to request the truth but reconciliation is not on her mind yet.Full Transcript
32:12And really I’ll say it. I don’t see how I can forgive this people, never ever.Full Transcript
32:20The Chesterville story of division, destruction and death is not unique. So called black on black violence was a feature of this period. We ask, was there a hidden hand? Was the mushrooming of vigilante and gangster groups part of a third force strategy? Was black on black violence yet another twisted feature of the state’s dirty war? Gail Reagon investigates.Full Transcript
32:47In South Africa of today there’s a clear line between gangster and vigilante or civic action. Gangs destroy communities and groups like Pahad in Cape Town want to rebuild them. But in the shadowy history of the 1980s some gangs and vigilante groups were seen to be cut from the same cloth. They were simply mabangalala, vigilantes; right wing and mercenary groups from within the black community who tailored their activities to suit the repressive agenda of the South African government. Full Transcript and References
33:23It was nationwide and it emerged almost at exactly the same time in these different towns from the Western Cape to the Transvaal, from the Free State to Natal.Full Transcript
33:34It was one of the strategies to suppress the UDF beliefs. The regime was at war with the black people and they knew which areas were very vigilant and the only way they could actually try and cut down on numbers was to kill, destroy those townships. And that is why the A-Team had to be helped all the way to destroy UDF people in Chesterville.Full Transcript and References
34:14Ja, Kabasa I think was formed by the police when they saw the youth and the people around those townships so united behind the UDF, behind LOYOMO, behind the ANC. And the system thought of a way how to destabilize. It really terrorized this township, it brought about divisions where people never knew or understood what the whole struggle was all about, because it would seem as if it is black on black. Full Transcript and References
34:46The security system of the then National Party government infiltrated our communities and during the infiltration you cannot really say that this is not a comrade and this is not a member of the ANC or SAYCO for that matter. What you see, you see members of the ANC and through their actions and their activities you start to realize that these people were sent.Full Transcript and References
35:15And you strongly believe that it was a third force phenomenon in your township? // Yes, our suspicion was corroborated when we arrived in prison, there was a certain member of a Russian gang - there was a gang called the Russians -and he relate to us how De Kock was involved in destabilizing particularly the ANC in Kuma. He made mention of De Kock giving money so as to assassinate Mary Agnes Kunwana.Full Transcript and References
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