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Special Report Transcript Episode 7, Section 4, Time 21:39
What was it in our people or our history that made this ghastly practice possible and so popular? // There’s a whole process that leads finally to the brutality of the necklace as a method of murder. And that for me is actually what we should have recorded in the eighties and it never got recorded. Nobody said, I began by saying no, and then I stayed away from school, and then I picked up a postcard, and then I wrote a little poem, and then I pleaded with so and so, and then I was in the street protesting with my … a legal method of protestation … and then I got my first hand grenade, my first petrol bomb, and then my first stone. This is how things developed, so there’s a whole process that led to the climax, which was the necklace murder itself. // Why did it survive for a while, for two or three years? It was repeated many dozens of times in South Africa? What was the symbolism of it? What was so important about necklacing? // It survived for, I’ll say two reasons. One very important reason, our own idiosyncrasy as people who are struggling, the whole notion of self-satisfaction, of seeing yourself in power of some other people. This is what it did, because you must understand that there was a target, the so-called necklace person wasn’t just a person; the person was called a target. You went and you attacked the target. This was some show of muscle; of some strength which if you look at it deeply actually meant nothing because this was no exercise of power. The real power that needed to be challenged was state power. And this is what you needed to hit at, but we ended up hitting at 75 year old women in many cases, a single cop in a lonely township. These were finally our victims. Wrong victims as far as I’m concerned. But then, I didn’t look at it as a victim, nobody looked at it as a victim. We all looked at it as an opportunity I think to flex our muscle, to show at least there’s still some power left in us. It was brutal. That’s the one reason why it survived. The second reason I think it survived was that other people recognized the futility of the necklace murder in fact, and hyped it up. This is why for the first time we saw murder on our television screens, the necklace was sold by the South African media, because of its gruesomeness, because of its propaganda quality. And what it did is satisfy the other need that we had, we want to see ourselves as popular and here we see ourselves in popular media as some kind of people with power over certain people. But at the same time, here we’re playing right in the hands of the South African popular media, which was of course ran by the interest of the National Intelligence strategy and all these kinds of people. I remember when I first raised the question about necklacing on the death of Maki Skosana everyone who spoke, my comrades, spoke about it as commenting on it. And they made it clear to me, you should stop commenting to condemn, right because we are not commenting to condone. This is what they said. This is what people around me said. So, nobody wanted to condone, but nobody wanted to condemn. The kind of people who got involved in necklace murders, if you could analyse them: they would never be part of serious political thinking, right; they’d be on the edges of the struggle, they’d be the foot soldiers; they’re these guys who wants to be seen as part of struggle, who really believes that they’re part of struggle but in terms of political, intellectual articulation many of them - many of them, I’m not saying all of them, many of them - were not part of it. And so they were really people that were in the margins, right. And so, necklacing basically, as a brutal murder had its effect not only on the victim but also on those who perpetrated necklace murders, right. Many of them got mad, many of them have got deep senses of remorse, many of them are not alright as I’m talking to you now. And you’re going to see more during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when people begin to speak openly about necklace murders. Because, when people… and this is the difference between the South African forces, South African Defence Force members and people in the township that committed murder. The people in the townships are humble enough to go and sit in front of Bishop Tutu to and say that, I did that and I’m sorry I did that. These other bastards are not.
Notes: Sandile Dikeni (Poet/Journalist) interviewed by Max du Preez
References: there are no references for this transcript