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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 4 of Episode 36

16:11They’ve been called fortresses of fear, hostels: mostly primitive buildings housing single black males who work in the cities while their families remained in the rural areas. The story of hostels in South Africa is a story of bloodshed and division.Full Transcript and References
16:31It was a brutal and chaotic war that lasted for nearly five years and many of its battles were fought in and around the hostel compounds of the South African townships. Many people have told the Truth Commission about the terror associated with these fortresses and their inhabitants.Full Transcript
16:50When they were in the middle of Khumalo street; a group of men accosted them, they were Inkatha men. They stopped them and they took out guns and they said they should drive into the hostel.Full Transcript and References
17:16They pulled this child by the foot and they hit the child against the wall and she cracked her skull. // After I’ve seen these people I suspected that those were the people who might have killed my brother. They were not alone. They were with some other people from another section at Vusimuzi; it was an Inkatha section.Full Transcript and References
17:50Hostel dwellers became feared and hated but the uneasy relationship between them and the township communities has existed since the first hostel was built. Since the discovery of diamonds in the 1800s black men have travelled from the rural areas to industries in the north. The diamond field owners erected the first hostels for these workers to ensure a continuous, controlled and cheap labour force. Black men could only stay in the so-called white areas as long as they were employed by whites and they would stay without their families. It was an idea that would become intrinsic in the grand apartheid design. Hostels were soon built in the townships as other industries’ demand for labour increased. A community within a community was created. The hotel residents were seen by the township residents as outsiders. They were different.Full Transcript
18:44They are migrant labourers because they need to work in the cities but they want to live in the rural areas. Their culture is very much a rural culture and they’ll go back to the rural areas as often as they can. They would be resistant to owning a house for example in an urban area. They would be resistant to allowing their children to come to school in an urban area. And so in many ways although they’re in an urban area they’re living in a rural mindset.Full Transcript
19:12And their presence was not necessarily tolerated. // ‘We don’t want those pagans there! They’re barbarians and pagans! We can’t have those Zulu’s here. They’re mercenaries. Schools have … let me tell you we are teachers and we’ve had enough.’ // But it was not mistrust that started a war in which thousands would die. The release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC in 1990 threw the political playing field open for the first time in South African history. Full Transcript and References
19:44As you know that once you talk politic before then you would be locked up. But everybody was able to talk politics at that time, freely. Criticizing, freely. That is why it started. They don’t have what we call political tolerance, because they have never been in that situation before.Full Transcript
20:15It seemed easy to call it a political war and to identify the aggressors. Fingers were pointed at the Nationalist Party government, the security forces and at Inkatha. // If we look at what happened in the hostels, they became, a lot of them became dominated by the IFP, and they became identified as IFP hostels. There were of course other hostels that were not dominated by the IFP, but those that were, were seen by township communities as aggressors.Full Transcript
20:45It is perpetrated, we believe by forces that are against the talks about peace. The violence is particularly connected with Inkatha and people are saying that openly. // We need to see township violence as part of a broader strategy by the apartheid government, and I think that evidence has come to the fore over several years of the existence of a third force, which was something that operated as a relationship between the security forces and the Inkatha Freedom Party.Full Transcript
21:27This relationship between the hostels and a third force was often spoken of in the same breath as taxi wars and train violence. // Hostel dwellers are amongst the poorest and most isolated of urban communities and this obviously provided a fertile ground for sewing any seeds of division and hatred that were necessary for township war.Full Transcript and References
21:54It was a war fuelled by political self interest, mistrust, suspicion, cultural diversity and a competition for resources. Nobody won as they loved ones became casualties in battle. It may be over but all the problems have not necessarily been solved.Full Transcript
22:12There was still a war between them and us. There’s no reconciliation in fact yet, but I hope there would be next time. // People do not have energy of fighting daily. You can’t have that energy. Fighting is not a sweet thing you know, it’s not Bar One, because we lose friends, we lose families, we lose everything.Full Transcript
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