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The glossary provides an explanation of places, groups, vernacular terms and events discussed in the TRC hearings.


Select 'references' to view references to each term in transcripts, lists and the Final Report. Select 'export' to download the database on this page.


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A-Team (Chesterville, Durban)The Chesterville A-Team, a state-sponsored vigilante group composed of Inkatha supporters, was set up by the Security Branch in 1985 in Chesterville, Durban, to counter the activities of the UDF, COSAS and other civic organisations in the area. Political tensions between UDF supporters and members of the Chesterville A-Team frequently resulted in attacks against UDF and ANC supporters.References
A-Team (OFS)The A-Team, also known as the 'Phakathis' was a vigilante group set up and headed by a well-known local councillor in the Thabong area of Welkom to counter the activities of the UDF primarily, and in a smaller measure, the ANC. The A-Team carried out a reign of terror in several areas of the province, particularly in Thabong and Parys, under the guise of 'maintaining order'. In at least one case, the A-Team is alleged to have been supported by police and municipal structures.References
AK47an automatic rifle of Soviet originReferences
Aliwal North shootingsOn 22 August 1985, clashes between students and police in Aliwal North, Cape, resulted in the death of at least one person, a student leader and activist. The following day, over 24 people were killed when police, standing on top of a building in Dukathole township, opened fire on protesting youths. Chaos followed in the township with arson attacks and further clashes between youth and police. The shootings were followed by detentions, and in May 1986, 23 people were charged with public violence related to the August 1985 events. Inquests subsequently found nobody criminally liable for the deaths.References
AmaAfrikaan anti-UDF vigilante group that grew out of the conflict between UDF and AZAPO supporters in Uitenhage during 1986. It was headed by the Reverend Ebenezer Maqina, who had been expelled from AZAPO in Port Elizabeth in January 1986.References
Amabhacamunicipal workers who fought against the community in Mohlakeng, Randfontein, TvlReferences
AmaButho (Eastern Cape)quasi-military UDF formations consisting of both armed soldiers and ordinary civilians, with their own command structures. While neither the UDF nor the ANC controlled these structures directly, they were seen at the time as being broadly in line with the strategy of a 'people's war'. They were most active in the 1980s and particularly in areas around the Eastern Cape.References
AmaButho (KwaZulu/Natal)Inkatha and IFP supporters organised into a 'community guard force' made up of Inkatha or IFP supporters, controlled by local indunas and active in areas around KwaZulu/Natal, particularly during the late 1980s and early 1990sReferences
amaqabanemilitant ANC and UDF supporters; also known as 'comrades'References
AmaRussiansa state-supported vigilante group opposed to the UDF and ANC. They were supported by the police and were active primarily on the mines in the OFS and on the Rand.References
Amasinyoraa gang of Inkatha (later IFP) supporters who, with the backing of the security forces and the KwaZulu Police, engaged in vigilante-type activities to counter the UDF and ANC in the Lindelani and KwaMashu areas of Durban, and in some areas on the Natal south coast.References
Amasolomzian informal group of community 'police' active in crushing local support for the UDF and ANC in the rural Cape towns of Ashton and Zolani in the late 1980s. In a number of violent attacks, the Amasolomzi acted in concert with the police to arrest and assault scores of people, and were themselves victims of counter-attacks by UDF supporters. References
Amavaravaraan ANC/UDF-supporting breakaway vigilante groupReferences
ANC campsThe ANC established bases in several African countries. The Department of Intelligence and Security (DIS), together with the military headquarters of MK, had control over residential centres and the Angolan camps, including 'Camp 32' or the Morris Seabelo Rehabilitation Centre (popularly known as 'Quatro'), Panga, Viana and the Nova Catengue camp. Following the SADF bombing of Nova Catengue camp in 1979, there was an atmosphere of paranoia about infiltration by South African agents. A number of ANC members were detained and tortured; some died as a result of assaults and some were executed. Dissatisfaction in MK training camps in Angola led to mutinies at the Viana and Pango camps during 1984. Both mutinies were put down with loss of lives on both sides. Many MK members were detained in connection with the uprisings, and some were tortured. Two groups of mutineers were tried by military tribunals and seven were executed. References
ANC landmine campaignThe ANC's landmine campaign from 1985 to 1987 targeted military patrols in the mainly northern and eastern areas of the Transvaal. A number of civilians - white farmers, their families, and black farm labourers - were killed when these explosives were detonated. The campaign was called off in the light of its high civilian casualty rate.References
APLAAzanian People's Liberation army, military wing of the PAC, formed in 1967 References
APLA attacksDuring the early 1990s, the PAC proclaimed a military strategy of a 'protracted people's war', which involved the infiltration of APLA guerrillas into the country to conduct rural guerrilla warfare. The initial targets of such attacks were members of the security forces and white farmers who were perceived to be the frontline of defence for the former apartheid government. A 'repossession unit' was also set up, in which APLA cells conducted armed robberies on the instructions of the APLA High Command to raise funds andor obtain weapons and vehicles to enable APLA to carry out its military strategy. Civilians were killed or injured in many of these robberies. In 1993, attacks on civilians increased sharply with a series of high-profile attacks by APLA cadres on public places, including restaurants, hotels and bars, in urban areas. These were usually, but not always, places frequented by white civilians. The PAC/APLA claimed that the attacks were not racist in character, but directed against the apartheid government as all whites, according to the PAC, were complicit in the policy of apartheid. The 1993 attack on the St James' Church, Kenilworth, Cape Town, produced the highest number of casualties, with 11 people dead and 58 injured. References
April 1994 electionsSouth Africa's first democratic elections began on 27 April 1994 and continued for three days. In some areas of Natal, polling was extended into a fourth day. The elections brought to a conclusion a four-year process of constitutional negotiations and brought about a dramatic reduction in political conflict and violence around the country. The ANC won 62,6% of the vote, and a Government of National Unity was constituted. The elections were followed by the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President on 10 May 1994. References
askaria former guerrilla 'turned' or recruited by the security forcesReferences
Attempted coup in Umtata, TranskeiOn 22 November 1990, Colonel Craig Duli, a former member of the Transkei military council, led a coup attempt against Bantu Holomisa's Transkei military government with the support of members of the SA security forces. A group of heavily armed men attacked the Transkei Defence Force's Ncise base outside Umtata. By the end of the day, at least 15 men were dead, including Duli himself.References
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