About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Part 1

Padraig O'Malley

The smell of mass death leaves you unprepared. Like heaps of acrid dung, it is at once odious and sweet, unpleasant but not repulsive. It lingers in the nostrils, invokes involuntary sharp inhalations and sharper exhalations of breath. And like dung left to dry out between natural putrefaction and compost, it is neither pleasant nor unpleasant, slightly repugnant but not overly rancid, more of an irritant you want to rid yourself of than an acute aggravation -- fetid, not loathsome. Neutral when given no context. It conveys no feeling of being enveloped by something inherently offensive to the senses, but it summons a claustrophobia of the self. It commands stillness, the uneasy presentiment of things gone horribly wrong.

It is 18 June 1992. I am in Boipatong, one of the scores of squalid townships that disfigure the Vaal Triangle. Boipatong is an ANC township, but one at war with the Zulu IFP residents of the KwaMadala Hostel, some kilometers away. It is a dirty war, but not an untypical one in the townships in which loyalties are bed divided between supporters of the ANC and the IFP, where the prevailing belief in both communities is that each is out to annihilate the other. Usually, neither is incorrect in its assumptions.

A massacre had occurred in Boipatong the night before. The massacre was allegedly launched from the KwaMadala hostel in the Vaal by a group of more than 200 men armed with knives, pangas and guns. When they were done, at least 45 people were dead and another 21 seriously injured. Victims included at least nine children, two babies and seventeen women, one of whom was pregnant. In addition, 42 residents were raped, hacked, stabbed, shot, beaten and disemboweled. Hundreds of homes were attacked and looted. According to the TRC, victims said they had been attacked by white men in security force uniform and Black men with red and white headbands speaking Zulu and chanting Zulu slogans.1

The perpetrators, apparently Zulu IFP-supporting migrant workers had descended on Boipatong under the cover of darkness, gone berserk with a thirst for blood and wreaked their frenzied havoc. Nor is it the first time residents of the hostel had been implicated in violence. Between July 1990 and April 1992 hostel inmates in Gauteng, had been implicated in 261 attacks on townships, resulting in at least 1,207 deaths. KwaMadala's contribution to the carnage was alleged to be 10 attacks in which 50 people were killed.2 If murder there were in Boipatong, KwaMadala was the first place to begin to look for suspects.


The media are all over the place, looking for interviews with anyone who would talk. But few would. Saturated with shock and trauma, the residents of the small match box brick houses and the corrugated tin shacks held together by cardboard or perilous architecture that that were still standing are in a semi-trance. They wander about rather aimlessly, but you can sense their apprehensiveness. You can feel their numbness, their passive silence less an unwillingness to talk than a wariness, the knowledge that any words or pictures that might identify them as the source of information might lead to punishing, perhaps lethal retribution from one side or the other. Saying nothing was often the best way, and sometimes the only way, of staying alive.

Moreover, many, not without good reason, refuse to give statements to the police, believing that the police themselves may have been complicit in the slaughter. Indeed, the police teams who were sent to the heretofore unheard of township would complain that they were experiencing "serious problems" in obtaining the cooperation of people who were injured as well as that of other possible witnesses.3

And there are other considerations at work. Boipatong is an ANC strong hold. Since the ANC had unequivocally charged the government with complicity in the killings, one would indeed be ingenuous to expect a township resident to step forward and contradict the ANC's version of events. Likewise, since the IFP had adamantly rejected Inkatha involvement in the massacre, it would have been equally ingenuous to expect a resident of the hostel, confined to fortress-like structure, to step forward and suggest otherwise. If, in the squalor of this squalid camp, they had not been born broken, life was not about healing, and there was no God to provide the glue. (Ref: Eugene O 'Neill)

Technicians, with the accouterments of electronic gadgetry in tow, strut the streets; seasoned eyes evaluate scout the most chilling backdrops – bodies frozen in their death throes, grieving women surrounding a mangled corpse, a body lying in a congealed pool of blood on the floor of a match box house, head twisted to the side, face locked in a grimace, hands clasped in front of chest, as if to ward off the bullets that killed him. All the stuff of great footage.

Television reporters, the new mandarins of our age, rehearse their platitudes in front of cameras carefully mounted to capture every grisly detail; sound-bites take precedence over commentary – they complement the camera but do not inform; spurious rumors become facts authenticated by "authoritative sources;" the insignificant assumes significance. The surreal supplants the real.

The first reporters on the scene witness an extraordinary sight: KwaMadala Inkatha impi, "armed to the teeth and drenched with battle medicine"4 advancing on Boipatong in full view of hundreds of witnesses, eager beyond stopping to confront township comrades who had regrouped during the night and appeared intent on a retaliatory attack on the hostel dwellers. Nothing stood in their way other than a thin line of nervous policemen who obviously did not relish the thought of trying to stop what appeared to be incipient mayhem. (This ref. comes from Malan: where did he get his info. from?).

I approach an old man, standing to one side, who seems bemused by the activity unfolding before him with. But something in me tells me this is not the time. I keep my tape recorder to myself, walk the dirt-ridden streets and absorb the odors of death. What has South Africa come to?

As in all conflicts, allegations become the stuff of truth. "Official" spokespersons emerge out of the shadows of death, bringing with them "witnesses" who confirm what the "official" wants to hear confirmed –and accepted as fact.

The ANC is first out of the starting block. In mid-morning on 18 June, even though nobody has had a clear idea of what had happened in Boipatong the previous night except for there having been an atrocity of unimaginable proportions committed, Ronnie Mamoepa spokesperson for the ANC's Regional Office issues a statement:

The attackers were brought into the township in police Casspirs. There is evidence that the police also assisted in the attack. The SAP had ignored warnings that Boipatong was about to be ransacked. They helped the impi by blasting self-defence units off the streets with tear-gas and live ammunition. Shortly thereafter, police were seen escorting groups of armed men from the KwaMadala hostel into the township. Later they were seen off-loading armed men at various points. The armed men attacked the township with an assortment of weapons, including firearms. In those homes where the attackers could not gain entry, police used Casspirs to break down walls and enable the attackers to assault residents and loot their furniture and other valuables....The attackers were seen loading their loot on to police vehicles or vehicles belonging to the Vaal Commando of the SADF.5

In the next two days, the ANC raises the stakes. Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC secretary -general and head of its negotiating team gets into the act. The massacre is the second phase of the government's plan to counter mass action.6 He quotes alleged eye-witnesses as saying that the killers were transported in police vehicles. He accuses the De Klerk government of being responsible for the massacre, even to the point of being a party to it. On a visit to Boipatong on 18 June he says that "it is clear that the Government agenda is that they want to negotiate with an ANC that is powerless and has no following (as a result of the township killings)"7 Indeed, he goes further, placing the blame directly on De Klerk himself, insinuating in a statement that he had planned the attack to counter the ANC's mount a campaign of mass action, to prove , as the government had predicted, that mass action would lead to violence.8

"We charge," he proclaims with the utmost certainty, "FW de Klerk with direct complicity in this slaughter"9 Two days later he escalates the rhetoric – and the vehemence. "The Boipatong massacre is one of the most chilling instances of the consequences of the FW de Klerk regime. Before the people of South Africa and international opinion, it cannot escape culpability."10 The constancy of the refrain that the "government did it" seeps into the minds of Blacks who do not support Inkatha until it assumes the form of an ingrained truth. They have only to look to the actions of successive apartheid governments to justify what they now held to be obviously true. Even the Rhema Church's – in the late 1990s the preferred church of the ANC elite – writes to de Klerk telling him that "there is a growing perception among moderate Blacks and whites that the allegations of Inkatha/police collusion are not wild political propaganda, but are, in fact true, and the government is, in fact, party to promoting violence."11

"Eye witnesses" confirm that police Casspirs had accompanied the armed gangs that had marched on Boipatong; others say they saw white men Blackening their faces. Al concur that policemen were present when the massacre took place, that they had done nothing to stop it; indeed, that they had allowed the marauding gangs free rein to exact their heinous orgy of violence to return to the KwaMadala Hostel without attempting to arrest anybody. A Monitoring group, Peace Action, charge that the police were warned of an impending attack at 7.30 p.m. and could have prevented the bloodshed that followed a few hours later. "They did not try to prevent it," it informs the media, "and if they did, there is no evidence of it.12

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) – an ANC -aligned organization that is a staunch support of "third force " involvement in violence ( for ref. On HRC, see Kane Berman, p. 22) -- says the massacre confirms that there are elements within Inkatha and the security force that have an interest in fueling violence and "fulfilling their own prophesy that the ANC's program of mass action will raise the political temperature."13 It is perhaps hardly surprising that "there was an absolute conviction in the minds of nearly the entire Black community that the police were involved in the attack by Inkatha supporters, and that this was part of a plot to weaken the ANC and its supporters."14 No one seems to question from whence the seeds of such certainty might have germinated.15 The police complain that their investigation is being hampered since witnesses whom the ANC says saw police transporting the killers have neither come forward to make statements to investigators and cannot be identified.16

Even this ultimately turns out not to be very surprising. At the trial of the Inkatha residents of the hostel later charged with the murders, it emerges, according to testimony given in court, that on the morning following the massacre, "comrades went around Boipatong instructing residents not to talk to the police or 'outsiders.'" If they wished to make a statement, they were to report to the school, where they could make a statement to 'the ANC.' At the school they met 'white people 'who appear to be violence monitors attached to such 'independent 'struggle lobbies as the Human Rights Commission and Peace Action. Statements taken under these circumstances were shown to reporters but withheld from the police who were the accused of failing to investigate the incendiary charges they contained. Attempts to hold an identity parade were abandoned because witnesses were scared to participate."17


De Klerk, immediately issues a statement in which he expresses his shock and revulsion at the mindless killings. He will not, he says, rest until his government finds the murderers of the shocking act and brings them to justice. The KwaMadala hostel is sealed off by 200 policemen reinforced by SADF troops in 51 armored vehicles. No one can enter or leave. In defiance the residents of the hostel refuse to allow the police to enter. Zulu war cries reverberate from behind the thick concrete walls of the hostel. In effect the inmates of the hostel are denying the police access to the hostel to search for evidence of who was responsible for the massacre, and the police, in the face of rampant Zulu militancy, are unprepared to force the issue, raising again the question of why they are so slow to respond. An Inkatha representative arrives to try and facilitate police access to the hostel. He goes inside with a list of people police want to question. He leaves empty-handed: the inmates will not allow either a search or arrests.

The lunatics are running the asylum. (Ironically, the Zulu word Madala means 'a hiding place' –asylum?) An Inkatha lawyer arrives. The inmates agree to be questioned by police inside the hostel and in the presence of their legal representatives.18

Inkatha Transvaal executive member, Themba Khosa, who secures the agreement of small groups of hostel dwellers to "cooperate with the police," following protracted negotiations with the police, vehemently condemns the confinement of dwellers in the hostel to the hostel as "a denial of the people's civil rights."19 On the morning following the massacre he had issued a statement challenging the ANC to produce "concrete evidence" of hostel residents being involved in the massacre. The IFP, he said, viewed the "unfounded allegations as irresponsible in the extreme, especially in light of the increasingly volatile climate sparked by the ANC's campaign of mass mobilization.20 " We are horrified that the attackers have been identified as KwaMadala inmates," he continued, "on the mere assumption that they were allegedly speaking Zulu. We reject this crude link with the contempt that it deserves." 21 (Later Victor Mthembu, deputy leader of the KwaMadala youth brigade who was serving over 200 years for the Boipatong and other killings in his application for amnesty in connection with Boipatong would name Khosa as an accessory.)22

Buthelezi, never one to be left unheard or to cast unseen stones, presses the point: "I am utterly appalled at the inhuman action of those who gathered to raid Boipatong squatter camp… It leaves civilized mankind stunned at the viciousness of man…. No leadership structure in the IFP had any knowledge that this attack was going to take place…Any IFP members who at any time could do anything like this would know they were undermining everything I have ever done to bring about a just and fair society in this country… If there ever was a time for the IFP and the ANC to forget every possible past difference and to come together for the sake of the lives of the innocent in this country, it is now."23

Such is de Klerk's sense of outrage and revulsion – or political opportunism-- that he decides to show his personal concern for the victims and their families by visiting Boipatong himself. He even believes that such a visit might help defuse the volatile situation that had created the senseless murders.24 The ANC condemns the visit; of course, had he not gone there to go there to visit the families of the bereaved, the ANC would have condemned him for his callousness, his lack of regard for Black lives.

The visit takes place on 20 June. It is a disaster. Having been announced with great fanfare his impending visit in advance; would-be demonstrators have ample time to mobilize a furious opposition. (The Waddington Report said that de Klerk ignored advice from his security officials not to go to Boipatong: de Klerk vigorously denied this saying that contrary to what Waddington reported his security officials, after reviewing he situation in Boipatong, gave the thumbs-up to his visit; that he had been accompanied by Hernus Kriel, Minister of Law and Order, and senior SAP personnel. "The orchestrated demonstration against the visit of the State president," his rebuttal said, "manifested itself while the president was there.") (Ref.176 of 515, Boipatong AND massacre/ Capital Radio Umtata 23 July 1992)

Orchestrated or not, a demonstration by angry and combative residents is precisely what he is greeted with. When he enters the township, angry mobs screaming "Kill the Boers! Kill the Boers!" and brandishing posters saying "To Hell with De Klerk and Your Inkatha Murderers," "We Want Police Protection, Not Murders," and "De Klerk Kill Apartheid, Not Us"25 surround De Klerk's armored Mercedes. He is forced to make an ignominious retreat from the town, scurrying like a frightened deer from the stalking huntsmen, his car often careering over sidewalks, "scattering rubbish bins and sending chickens flying."26

Speaking to the media on 24June, de Klerk tells the assembled news people that despite the "organized resistance" to his visit to Boipatong, he had driven through the area for "for seven or eight minutes and people waved at me and were friendly."27

(See interviews with Koos van der Merwe and Gerrit Viljoen supporting de Klerk)

He still didn't get it. It never seems to have crossed his mind that the crowd's reactions to his visit might have been largely spontaneous, an expression of genuine anger rather than a carefully choreographed demonstration, that his government had seriously underestimated the depth of anger in the township, that the residents of the township did, indeed, hold him to account, that his politically-motivated visit to Ulundi to meet with Buthelezi two days earlier may have led them to believe that he was giving a tacit nod support to what was being planned – or at least encouraged it, and hence the association in their minds of de Klerk and Inkatha supporters occupying the KwaMadala hostel.

Instead, he steadfastly adheres to his own comforting version of reality. Blacks look up to him. After all, had he not "freed" them from the servitude of apartheid? And were they not "grateful" for all he had done on their behalf? But, if indeed, his security personnel had reviewed the situation and concluded that a visit to Boipatong posed no security risks, there was no indication that he hauled his officials before him and demanded an explanation for their woeful assessment of the mood in Boipatong – what had happened to his supposedly crack intelligence network? Did it ever cross his mind that his security personnel knew quite well what was going to happen, but kept it to themselves to give de Klerk a taste of what police in the townships had to face on a daily basis a result of his appeasing the ANC?

This discrepancy over Waddington's account of what his investigative team had "uncovered" about the advice given to de Klerk regarding the appropriateness of a visit to Boipatong at that particular time, when the situation was so volatile, and de Klerk's denial that he was ever given advice not to make the trip, that on contraire, his security people had reviewed the situation in Boipatong and concluded that the president's trip there would pose no difficulties is something that should have easily been cleared up. Was Waddington in a position to corroborate his statements? Was de Klerk in a position to corroborate his? Who told what to whom, and who was witness to the exchanges? Even this simple matter was never cleared up. The result: we still do not know whether de Klerk was advised not to go to Boipatong, but over-ruled his security people in the belief that Blacks would not turn on him? He was, after all. "Comrade de Klerk."

As police Casspirs started to leave two hours after the president's unbecoming departure, youths threw a branch in front of the last Casspir, and when policemen got out to move it, the crowd shouted insults at them. Other police went to the scene and created a line facing the crowd, leading to a tense stand-off. Finally the crowd began to leave, and the Casspirs followed them back to the township. One man was shot, however, and when the crowd tried to retrieve his body they were ordered to move back by the police. The crowd shouted at the police. In response, a police officer apparently fired his gun to try to frighten the crowd. This shot was followed by a twenty-second spate of gunfire from the police onto the crowd. Journalists who witnessed the event stated that no order to fire had been given. (reference Allister Sparks here.) At least two people were killed and eighteen injured. The police maintained that no casualties had resulted from this incident and that television pictures showing casualties lying on the ground were fabricated by members of the crowd faking death or injury.28

(ref: Waddington Report, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/Capital Radio, Umtata 23 July 1992)

Inflamed passions have reached the point of ignition.29 In a radio interview, Saki Macozoma says that he thinks "we are experiencing a genocide and I know the dictionary meaning of the word."30


On 21 June, Mandela responds. He goes to Boipatong. The greeting is harsh: "We are lambs and you are leading us to the slaughter," a chorus of voices cry out. He addresses their anger:

"…just as the Nazis in Germany killed people not because they were a threat to the security of the state, but because they were Jews, the National Party regime is killing our people simply because they are Black. They are killing our people in an effort to stop the ANC getting into power….

With the involvement of his party in violence, he had the temerity to visit an area where people's feelings have been inflamed because their loved ones were massacred with the same weapon of death which he had legalized. That was a clear provocation. Why did de Klerk choose to visit these killing fields when he never cared to do so before? …One thing is certain. The National Party has already started its election campaign among Blacks. May it be that he chose to visit this bereaved town and shoot people without any provocation. It is not likely that an officer in his presence would give such an order without getting his permission…I can no longer explain to our people why we keep on talking peace to men who are conducting a war against us, men of corruption who kill innocent people…The voice of our people is coming out strong and clear. Their demand is: no more contact with the regime.31

Following his speech the NEC votes to break off all negotiations with the government. The government, almost cap in hand, implores it to reconsider. De Klerk said it would be a mistake if all the work done at CODESA was nullified. Much had been achieved and they were "so near workable solutions."32

But the CODESA process is over. And with it whatever standing de Klerk has in the Black community, which at that point is considerable in view of the fact that he leads the party that enforced apartheid with all its draconian laws forcing Blacks to live under conditions of oppression, dispossession, and with no way of contesting the capricious application of apartheid laws. But because he is the white man who released Mandela, repealed apartheid, and promises the voting franchise for Blacks and a government of the people he is accorded a special status. In the townships, he is seen as one of them, not as the obdurate stereotype of the intransigent Afrikaner PW Botha presented for so many years.

Many Blacks refer to him as "Comrade de Klerk." 33 Some polls suggest that in a general election, he could pull in 25 per cent of the Black vote.34 Opening a Women's League in Durban in early June, Mandela "made the astonishing off-the-cuff remark that the ANC "could lose' an election to the Nats because they had vast experience, good organization, and powerful backing."35 (One assumes that Mandela was merely trying to jolt the women into mobilizing and educating the potential ANC electorate, or perhaps he thinks what the ANC perceives the NP strategy to be: negotiate with it on the one hand; debilitate it with a carefully orchestrated campaign in the townships with Black -on-Black violence, pitting ANC supporters against IFP supporters with the police either turning a blind eye to IFP assaults on ANC supporters or being actively complicit)

Journalists who interviewed de Klerk in his office following the suspension of CODESA found him to be in an "ebullient" mood: the ANC, he believes, would see the light and give ground on the issues that had brought CODESA II to a halt.36 The halt was seen as a hiatus of sorts, a time-out to allow the two sides to deal with the more recalcitrant elements in their respective ranks and to get their acts together. Although each blames the other for the breakdown, the fact is it suits them both.

Boipatong changes all that. Never again will there be references to "Comrade de Klerk." The NP becomes a pariah in the townships, the epitome once again of past regimes, intent on clinging to power at all cost, even when that cost includes the wanton murder of Blacks.

The ANC's perspective is simple – and understandable: the government is conducting a low-intensity war against the ANC. When the masses realize that the ANC cannot protect them against the random violence that has enveloped their lives, the ANC's credibility as the people's liberation movement will begin to dissipate, allow de Klerk, with the security forces of the state at his command, to step in, bring the violence under control, and grievously wound a toothless ANC by providing the masses with a glimpse of what life under an ANC government would be like.37 Ingrained revolutionary beliefs die hard.

Moreover, it is heresy in ANC circles to attribute any act of virulence to Black-on-Black violence. Hence the longer the government could drag out the negotiations, the more the masses disillusionment with the ANC's capacity to protect them against exponentially increasing random attacks or deliver on their political demands, the more the local self-defence units (SDUs) would take matters into their own hands, the greater the lurch to anarchy, the more appeal of a government that had repealed apartheid and could restore security. Indeed, during one of our interviews Goldstone says:

There's an assumption that the ANC leadership is in control on the ground and it isn't. That was admitted to one of our Commission hearings by the Deputy Leader of uMkhonto weSizwe who admitted - a lot of publicity was given to it here, I don't know whether it was in the United States, but he admitted without reservation and said 'we don't have control over our MK cadres on the ground.'

I thought that was an important admission. I think it's true, perhaps to a lesser extent, but nevertheless true of Inkatha. Inkatha's probably a more monolithic authoritarian organization but I don't believe that Buthelezi has control over everything that goes on in his organization. Everybody assumes that there is control within each of the three organizations, the Police, Inkatha and the ANC, including all their satellites and affiliated organisations [with regard to how things happen on the ground. But when bad things happen each side blames the leadership as if they were in control and directly involved in fermenting that sort of violence.38

The SDUs, according to the ANC, evolved out of the demands from communities under siege from violence and the perceived partisanship of the police in maintaining law and order. However, what self defence units that were supposed to protect communities from random or premeditated attack became part of the problem, one admitted by the ANC during the negotiating process, but reluctantly and rather guardedly; admitted more openly when the ANC was securely in power. Thus Johannes Rantete writes:

Although SDUs were established in certain areas, they suffered from important weaknesses. The ANC was unable to arm the people sufficiently and most SDUs had to fend for themselves in defending townships. Furthermore, the proposal that the MK would train these units undermined their impartiality and led to resentment by other political organizations. In practice, only a few MK cadres participated in the setting-up of these structures, which were mainly in the hands of undisciplined local activists. Indeed, despite the euphoria surrounding the SDUs, few were created. They were set up in places such as the Vaal and Phola Park. The reason for this was intensified police harassment and logistical problems around their creation. Even where they were created, these units did not follow the command structure as outlined in the official document. Most crucially, rather than being an asset to the resolution of violence, the SDUs increasingly became an aggravating factor as activists held townships hostage. (Ref. Rantete p. 100)

Nor would matters get better. In the last week of July 1993, 60 people were killed in East Rand townships in three days. Townships increasingly became "no-go" areas for the police at night, and dangerous for them to enter during daylight. Army escorts accompany the police on their rounds. But their hold on the townships continued to slip. In some, the ANC fills the power vacuum, but not always

While the ANC did a first rate job in creating the impression that the IFP, with the either overt or covert assistance from the police are responsible for all the violence, supporters of the ANC drove Zulu s from the KwaMasiza and Sebokeng hostels. They fled to KwaMadala, more than ever a fortress for displaced IFP members burnt out of their homes. "Treated like outlaws," the Economist acerbically observed, "they have begun to behave like them." (Ref. The Economist 31 July 1993.)

Before his assassination in April 1993, Chris Hani, admitted that some "comrades" had become little more than gangsters who "hijacked self defence units" for their own profiteering ends. Faction fighting within the ANC in some townships sharpened the divisions and uncertainties that were the staples of life in the townships, as things out of control at an accelerating rate. (Ref. Ibid.)

In the final analysis, fear for one's own live and the anxieties it induces is a far more powerful determinant of how people behave than arcane arguments over forms of governance they are being asked to live under. The latter is of less than academic interest if one is dead.

The government's perspective is also simple –and understandable: The ANC's campaign of mass action, which it had launched following the suspension of CODESA, had gotten off to a slow start. Launched in Cape Town with the aim of pressuring the government into making further concessions, the campaign which would include general strikes, sit-ins, stayaways, and demonstrations had mustered sparse support. The ANC rally in Cape Town attracts only 5,000 people. For the march in Soweto to unveil a memorial to Hector Peterson, the first youth shot dead by the security forces in the 1976 student uprising, a mere 10,000 people turn out, even though it was led by Mandela himself.39 One report puts the number a low as 2,000, The campaign needed something to rekindle the masses spirit of defiance, something that would purge them of their passivity and get them to take to the streets. (A Markinor survey carried out in May indicated that most whites and Blacks favor a government in which power is shared by all population group, one in which no group is able to dominate the other. The proportion of whites favoring a form of power sharing had risen from 55 per cent in 1991 to 69 per cent with 78 per cent of English -speaking whites and 57 per cent of Afrikaners prepared to accept such a governance arrangement. The proportion of Blacks prepared to accept power-sharing had leveled off at an overwhelming 84 per cent).40

The ANC was insistent on there being one outcome to negotiations –simple majority rule with built in safeguards for minorities; the Black masses would overwhelmingly have settled for a settlement that would involve power sharing among all parties.

The ANC needed a Boipatong. But even more than that, it needed an enemy –only an enemy is real. Once the CODESA got under way and the politicians wrangled in the World trade Center at Kempton Park, which to the average South African could have been located in anywhere in the continent, the proceedings of the negotiations became remote to their lives, something taking place in a distant space, irrelevant to the comings and goings in the worlds they inhabited. Even the negotiators themselves became abstractions, voices heard on the radio, statements in newspapers, fleeting images on television. Once the ANC agreed to halt the armed struggle, it needed a fallback "weapon" it could threaten to use if the government with the SADF and the SAP backing it up was unresponsive to its demands.

That weapon was the masses. The ANC had seen the power of that weapon in Eastern Europe where the sheer will of the people had toppled regimes that owed their grip on power on massive and pervasive security apparatuses. The "Leipzig option" became the new orthodoxy.41 Mass action in itself was no longer sufficient. Invariably, it petered out: it was difficult to sustain interest and people, even if involuntarily drifted back to work. For mass action to achieve its intended impact had to achieve a critical mass that could sustain itself over a period; anything less would undermine the ANC's bargaining position. Hence the need for an identifiable enemy: hence the need to tie the massacre at Boipatong to the white regime. Hence the need to demonize de Klerk.42 In the 1980s, Buthelezi had been the perfect foil; in the nineties, it would be de Klerk's turn to twist in the wind.

On 29 June, a funeral was held for 36 victims of the Massacre. More than 25,000 people gathered at a stadium in Boipatong to view the coffins and to hear leaders from all the liberation movements – an uncommon act of solidarity – eulogize the dead and berate the government.

The ANC demanded de Klerk's resignation. Secretary General branded the government "evil, dangerous and brutal" and de Klerk as "incompetent and useless." He claimed that de Klerk, in a meeting in May with Mandela, admitted that he could not control the police. (An assertion that de Klerk vehemently denied) Jay Naidoo, Secretary general of COSATU taunted de Klerk and the government. "Remember, Mr. De Klerk, " he thundered, "We are not your kitchen maids, we are not your garden boys. Ever time we try to negotiate, the government tells us to go to hell. We will take them to hell with us." (ref: Facts on File: World News Digest 30 July 1992, doc.168/ Boipatong AND massacre/ Lexis-Nexis.) More menacingly, Chris Hani warned that mass action would "involve a fight to the finish…until we defeat de Klerk."(ref. Quoted by John Kane - Berman in Political Violence in South Africa, p. 47) A message was read from Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr. Archbishop Desmond Tutu conducted the funeral services. (Ref. Facts on File, 30 July 1992.)

At least six white reporters were attacked at the funeral. Outside the stadium, a gang of township youths chased down and murdered a man they suspected of sympathizing with the IFP.(Ibid.) Even homage to the dead, it would appear, finds its best expression in violence.

In a statement, de Klerk expressed concern that "Instead of using the occasion to mourn the tragic deaths of the victims and to console their families and loved ones, the funeral was exploited to whip up emotions and to harden attitudes against negotiations and reconciliation." (Ref. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/SAPA 1July 1992).

(In a further irony, the content of most of the speeches at the funeral and Mandela's to the residents of Boipatong would be illegal today and the speakers liable to prosecution under the provisions of the ???? Act, passed in February 2000, which made "hate speech" or speech that could be construed as inciting hate unlawful.)


It is instructive to put the Boipatong massacre in the context of two other massacres – one before Boipatong and one after, and to contrast the outcry of rage that Boipatong engendered, both in South Africa and abroad, with the muted responses to the other two.

On 3 April 1992, a gang of unidentified men descended on the Crossroads squatter camp, east of Johannesburg. At least 23 people, including a grandmother and a nine-month-old child were stabbed, hacked and shot to death. The perpetrators were said to have come from the nearby Kupalo hostel. Survivors accused the police of being slow to respond, charging that the delay allowed the marauders to murder, pillage and escape. There were allegations of third force involvement. "There is one fundamental difference," write Patrick Laurence, "Boipatong is a township in which the ANC is predominant; Inkatha is paramount in Crossroads.

Further divergences [he writes] flow from that difference. Most of the victims at Boipatong were, at least, not hostile to the ANC; most of the victims at Crossroads were Inkatha members or sympathizers. The marauders at Boipatong were said to have been Zulu-speaking; the assassins at Crossroads are said to have been Xhosa-speaking. [code among Zulus for the ANC]

The difference in public response to these killings is astounding. Boipatong, labeled by the ANC as a national tragedy has become a national crisis. Crossroads, reported almost perfunctorily by the South African press, quickly disappeared from public consciousness.

The victims of a murderous attack on Zonke'zizwe, a squatter camp near Crossroads where Inkatha is the politically dominant force, can legitimately added to the Crossroads total.

Zonke'zizwe was attacked three days after the assault on Crossroads. The attackers were again said to be "Xhosa-speaking men." Nearly 30 people – three quarters of the death toll at Boipatong – lost their lives at Crossroads and Zonke'zizwe.

The cries of anguish, however, were more or less confined to bereaved families and friends of the victims and to Inkatha. There was no national, let alone international solidarity. Mr. Mandela described the attackers at Boipatong as "animals." No such epithet was applied to the killers at Crossroads, some of whose victims were burnt alive.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Boipatong to express solidarity with the victims. Crossroads apparently, didn't merit a similar visit. Then South African Council of Churches was deeply moved by the plight of Boipatong, but its concern was less audible over the killings at Crossroads.

On the face of it, the reason for the different responses – angry outrage versus near indifference – is that Inkatha has been cast as the villain of South Africa's bloody political drama. Another reason may be the superiority of the ANC's propaganda machine to that of the IFP.

No one has ever been arrested for the Crossroads massacre, according to the IFP. Yet, in contrast to the Boipatong killings, there have been no publicly -voiced suspicions of collusion between the police and the attackers, despite an Inkatha complaint that police had searched and disarmed Crossroads residents the day before the attack. (ref: Irish Times, 27 June 1992.)

Indeed, one indication of the degree to which Inkatha felt itself in marginalized in the "sympathy -stakes" came in the form of a 40 page release cataloguing 587 attacks on Inkatha members, 376 of them fatal, which had occurred since the signing of the National Peace Accord in September 1991.According to the IFP, there was a systematic and selective program to assassinate IFP branch chairmen, hostel chairmen, managers, others in leadership positions, ordinary members and their families. In most cases ANC supporters were blamed for the deaths. "The IFP," the organization's Western Cape chairman said, " has requested that their victims have an equal claim to our nation's sympathy." (ref. BBC summary of World Broadcasts from SAPA 20 July 1992)

On 1 August 1993, 200 Zulus rampaged through Tembisa, a township east of Johannesburg, occupied mainly by supporters of the ANC, killing at least 30 people at random, using assault rifles, spears and pangas. A five-month old baby girl and her parents were killed as they slept in one home. A man who pleaded for the life of his neighbor's child had his wish granted –then he was hacked to death. Houses were scorched by petrol bombs, cars were set alight. Residents rapidly formed armed groups to retaliate. The ANC called for "an immediate independent investigation" into eyewitness reports -- denied by the police – that the attackers had been given lifts away from the scene in police vehicles.

An ANC statement said that the massacre was designed to "unleash a race war" and to "prevent the negotiated transition from to a democratic and non-racial society." ( ref: The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 1992.) Indeed, in the week prior to the massacre in Tembisa, 90 people were killed in the satellite townships surrounding Johannesburg.

The actual cause of the massacre had a familiar ring to it. Simmering tensions between Tembisa and the Zulu residents in two adjacent hostels had been escalating for some time. On the night of the massacre, members of the "Toaster Gang," which had been terrorizing the area and were known to use one of the hostels as a safe-house, attacked residents of Tembisa. Residents managed to capture a gang member and they killed him. Others who were with him fled to the hostels to get reinforcements from the Zulu workers living there. ANC spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said that the gangsters had "exploited political passions" to persuade the hostel inmates to attack. (ref: ditto) Indeed, such was the animosity between hostel dwellers and township residents that residents dug up the body of gang leader, Clement Jonas, who had been gunned down in his car in May, and burnt it. (ref: The Times 2 August 1993)

The same night, another 14 people were killed, including two policemen, in Tokoza, another township a few miles away. Zulus from three of the migrant hostels in the township went on a rampage, setting houses alight and killing their occupants. Police also came under fire from ANC supporting residents of Phola Park squatters' camp, an extension of Tokoza, much as Slovo Park is adjacent to Boipatong. (ibid)

The Tembisa massacre, like so many others highlighted once again a phenomenon associated with massacres. They usually were out of all proportion to whatever incident had ignited a retaliation against some provocation. (ref: John Kane-Berman) Second, the ANC had to be reconstruct all killings to fit the politically motivated mold – any suggestion that ethnic affiliations might have been a contributing factor were dismissed out of hand, hence the need to have "eye-witness" accounts of police involvement.

But on this occasion, there was no attempt to link the massacre to the government, the cabinet, senior police officials, or de Klerk himself. It would not have been politically opportune to do so. A date for the country's first non-racial election had been set; the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum (MPNF),(ref) , which had replaced CODESA as the negotiating arena, was well on its way to resolving outstanding issues. Indeed, agreement between the ANC and the NP regarding the composition and functions of the Technical Executive Committee (TEC) was imminent. (Legislation setting up the TEC would be enacted by parliament on 23 September. The TEC subsequently functioned in tandem with the NP cabinet, and had a veto in certain areas of government, thus effectively bringing to an end the NP's sole authority as the governing party.)

With so much at stake, the massacre in Tembisa went largely unnoticed – the usual rhetoric had its day, but it was no longer necessary to invoke the mantra of government collusion. Thus there was no stream of ANC dignitaries to Tembisa to bury the dead, no calls for mass action to protest the government's killing of innocent women and children, no political utility for anyone to draw more attention to the matter. On tour in the Far East, Mandela once again reiterated that the government "Does not take the deaths of Black people seriously,. " and called for joint political control over the security forces. De Klerk visited people in the Tembisa shooting, declaring that violence would not allow the elections scheduled for April '94 to be derailed. And this time, there was no one on hand to chase him out of the township.


Boipatong had ripple effects that further undermined de Klerk's negotiating position. Not only did the ANC level the playing field, it managed to tilt it in a direction to the ANC's liking. The international media highlighted accounts by Boipatong residents who alleged they had witnessed the security forces' participation in the massacre. The world-wide coverage of the massacre and its aftermath internationalized the conflict. Pressure mounted, both within South Africa and from outside South Africa, for some form of international intervention, eventually culminating in a debate in the UN Security Council on 15 and 16 July.

Mandela used the opportunity to call for the reintroduction of sanctions.(ref: World News Digest: Facts on File, 23 July 1992, Boipatong AND massacre, doc.185. Lexis-Nexis) Pik Botha, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcomed the sending of a UN envoy to try and bring political protagonists back to the negotiating table. " With the removal of apartheid," he said, " we have nothing to hide. We welcome visiting missions." (ref: Ibid.) Buthelezi was himself. " You can send many delegates to South Africa," he said. But as long as a partisan view exists, you do not help the situation. In fact, you exacerbate it." (Ibid.)

At the end of the debate, a resolution was adopted that expressed concern over the breakdown in negotiations, condemned the escalation of the violence, made specific reference to Boipatong, called on the government to "protect the life and property of all South Africans" and asked all parties to heed the National Peace Accord, which they had all put their imprimaturs to in September 1991.(Ibid.) Thus, the resolution balanced criticism of the South African authorities' failure to deal effectively with the issue of violence with pressure on the ANC to return to the negotiations table." (ref?) The resolution fell well short of authorizing permanent monitors in South Africa, an intervention the ANC had called for, but which the government opposed on the grounds that it would be an unacceptable intrusion on its sovereignty.

However, the UN Security Council authorized "as a matter of urgency" the deployment of observers to South Africa to work with the parties there to end the violence. (Ref.Lexis-Nexis/ BC cycle/ Goldstone Commission/doc.10 of 54, 17 August 1992)

All went home feeling they had won the day, a deftness in dealing with matters of dispute the UN assiduously cultivates. But in reality the ANC had gotten what it wanted: the political upper hand. It had managed to put the government on "trial," weakened its claim to the undiluted authority of a sovereign power, and in agreeing to international monitoring of violence the government was implicitly admitting that events were slowly slipping out of its control Within months there were 50 UN observers in the country monitoring the violence. The conflict had become "internationalized."

In a period of two months, the political pendulum had turned 180 degrees. From this point on the ANC would make the running.


Mandela, in the concluding pages of his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom treats Boipatong cursorily, almost curtly, and with less than his characteristic candor:

On the night of June 17, 1992, [he writes] a heavily armed force of Inkatha members secretly raided the Vaal township of Boipatong and killed forty-six people. Most of the dead were women and children. It was the fourth mass killing of ANC people that week. People across the country were horrified by the violence and charged the government with complicity. The police did nothing to stop the criminals and nothing to find them; no arrests were made, no investigation begun. Mr. De Klerk said nothing. [ my ithals.] I found this to be the last straw, and my patience snapped. The government was blocking the negotiations and at the same time waging a covert war against our people. Why then should we talk with them?

Four days after the murders I addressed a crowd of twenty thousand angry ANC supporters and told them I had instructed ANC secretary-genera Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend direct dealings with the government … I likened the behavior of the National Party to the Nazis in Germany, and publicly warned de Klerk that if he sought to impose new measures to restrict demonstrations or free expression, the ANC would launch a nation-wide campaign of defiance with myself as the first volunteer.

At the rally, I saw signs that read "MANDELA, GIVE US GUNS" and "VICTORY THROUGH BATTLE NOT TALK."…After Boipatong there were those in the NEC who said, "Why did we abandon the armed struggle? We should abandon negotiations instead; they will never advance us to our goal. I was initially sympathetic to the group of hard-liners, but gradually realized there was no alternative to the process...I would not turn my back on negotiations. But it was time to cool things down. Mass action in this case was a middle course between armed struggle and negotiations. The people must have an outlet for their anger and frustration and a mass action campaign was the best way to channel those emotions.43

Such was the antipathy and distrust between de Klerk and Mandela at this point that it never seems to have crossed Mandela's mind that de Klerk's decision to visit Boipatong may have been made for the precise purposes de Klerk himself ascribes to his motives, but that it is also indicative of de Klerk's attempt to act as president of all the people, not just as the president of the NP (an accusation regularly hurled at him by the ANC – not without good reason.)

Mandela is wrong on a number of points, the least of which is probably his assertion that in the event of the ANC calling a nation-wide defiance campaign in response to government attempts to restrict demonstrations, he himself would be the first volunteer.44

That aside his statements regarding De Klerk are not woolly incorrect, but, almost deliberately misleading as if he wanted to further reinforce his contention that de Klerk wanted to cling on to power even if he had to step over the dead bodies of Black people to do so.

Considering that the autobiography was not published until 1994, when the trial of the KwaMadala hostel dwellers charged with the massacre was well under way, (had the verdict been announced?), there are no grounds on which Mandela can justify his remarks regarding de Klerk's reactions to the Boipatong massacre, other than in terms of the bitterness over the question of violence in the townships that had poisoned the relationship between the two leaders. Mandela, the passionate advocate of reconciliation is also, despite his achievements and the universal admiration, which he inspires, is only human, and perhaps, his penchant for disparaging de Klerk on whatever occasion presented itself was, at that point in time, part of his own legacy of 27 years of incarceration which he had yet to deal with. The carefully nurtured myth that Mandela emerged from prison, unscathed in human terms, free of the baggage of resentment for being denied his freedom for the most important years of his adult life begs questioning. He is, despite his manifest virtue, human, and the quintessence of our humanity is our being flawed. Et tu, Mandela.

De Klerk did issue a statement of condolence.45 Reinforcements were sent to the area to preclude retaliations and restore law and order. He did initiate an immediate investigation under the direction of Major General Hannes Cloy, commander of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) established under the terms of the National Peace Accord.46 Up to 200 detectives were assigned to the case. The residents of KwaMadala were confined to the hostel for a week in order that each of them could be questioned (a mistake, since it gives the perpetrators of the massacre ample time to dispose of incriminating evidence) (ref: see interview with Gen. van der Merwe pp--) Eventually, some 300 KwaMadala were interrogated. Cutting short his visit to Spain, de Klerk returned to Pretoria to preside over an emergency meeting of the cabinet. Subsequently, an angry and obviously frustrated De Klerk, according to one source, storms into the SAP HQ in Pretoria demanding results.47 And why not?

Ever since he had released Mandela, repealed apartheid laws and committed himself to a negotiated settlement, de Klerk's stature both within South Africa and abroad had soared. In the space of 18 months he had courageously led his own people across the Rubicon, over the acrid objections of many of his own people; had broken with a shameful past and embraced the mantle of democratic reform.

In Paris, he had met with President Francois Mitterrand, Prime Minister Michel Roccard and Jacques Chirac, who would later become Mitterrand's successor; in Lisbon with President Mario Soares; in London with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; with Chancellor Kohl in Bonn; with King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales in Madrid, with George Bush in Washington, President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow, Prime Minister Kilchl Miyazawa in Tokyo, and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in Singapore.

On the international stage he has become someone to be reckoned with, the first Afrikaner since General Jan Smuts to command international presence. Now a massacre in a wretched little township (Boipatong, from end to end stretched over an area of less than 800metres) has attracted the attention of the world, reputable media reporters are repeating almost verbatim ANC allegations regarding police collusion, without attributing them to the ANC, insinuating with less than unquestioning subtlety that the SAP had facilitated and participated in the atrocity, indeed, that his police had planned the operation. And the ANC, in a barrage of statements, coming one after the next with military-like timing accuses him of being, like his predecessors, little more than a racist pig. And that that was how he would be remembered.

In the face of the consequences at stake, de Klerk acts with an alacrity unbecoming someone who was being made out to be a mastermind subverting the possibility of a negotiated settlement. He gives the Goldstone Commission carte blanche to begin a parallel investigation and specifically requests Goldstone to bring international experts on board. Among them are Dr. PAJ Waddington, Director, Criminal Justice Studies, University of Reading, England, who supervises the work of a team of British detectives. De Klerk is open to the suggestion of fact-finding missions from Europe and the United Nations to acquaint themselves with the circumstances surrounding the violence. "We would welcome them," he says, "We have nothing to hide."48

The SAP round up suspects; it "extracts" statements. Routine torture – the only instrument of investigation the SAP is familiar with – is used in the interest of "higher" interests. Within a week six residents of KwaMadala are being held under "unrest regulations. Some 200 arrests (?) are made, 78 are detained and arraigned on charges of murder; at subsequent court hearings charges against 27 are dropped and 46 go to trial in May 1993. In June 1994, two years after the massacre, six leaders of the attack are each sentenced to eighteen imprisonment and nineteen others received sentences ranging from ten to fifteen years.49

In response to the Waddington Report, de Klerk disbands the 32nd Battalion of the SADF, which had a notorious reputation for brutal behavior in the townships, and the special crime investigation support unit in which former "Koevoet" members were serving – members who wished to join the SAP on a permanent basis would be allowed to do so, but would only be deployed to combat livestock theft on a decentralized basis; the carrying of dangerous weapons in public areas in unrest areas was prohibited; (ref. Pik Botha's speech to UN, 16 July 1992; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts: text of dispatch issued by the South African Communication Service) [were any of these measures carried out and, if so, when?]; the police and army were ordered to maintain a permanent presence at the KwaMadala hostel to monitor the movement of people in and out of the hostel, and finally, de Klerk bit the bullet and announced sweeping reforms of the SAP at the end of August, including the forced retirement of one third of the whites-only top command, which cleared the way for Black promotions and the setting up of a permanent board of inquiry to investigate charges of police misconduct. Among the 18 generals who were forced to retire were the head of police training, the deputy head of the riot squad, and the head of forensics --- areas where police performance had been sharply criticized by Waddington. (ref. New York Times, Bill Keller 27 August 1992.)


Dr. Waddington in his submission to the Goldstone Commission is unequivocal. There is, he says, "no evidence of direct police complicity in the massacre itself."50 Within a month, the Goldstone Commission reports that while the government had failed to respond to almost all the recommendations the commission had made to it on the questions of violence, the commission,

(Ref. Among the recommendations Goldstone made: the securing of workers' hostels to prevent them from being used as launching pads for attacks on township communities; a ban on the carrying of weapons in public; measures to ensure that no arms were taken in or out of hostels, measures to ensure that hostels were in a position to secure themselves from external attack; and the withdrawal of certain security force units from peace-keeping operations in townships.

Examine the reasons why de Klerk would have been so slow to implement them i.e. that he was still very actively cultivating Buthelezi; his "grand design " to hold on to power would necessarily involve a coalition with Inkatha. Consequently he was not about to implement a set of recommendations from Goldstone that would include, inter alia, fencing -off hostels and the banning of 'cultural weapons.' In the sense that de Klerk failed to implement these one could argue that his government was culpable for much of the violence. This argument assumes, of course, that he would have been able to implement the recommendations effectively, that Buthelezi and Inkatha would have acquiesced, that there would have been no backlash, and that implementation of these recommendations would in themselves been sufficient to bring the violence under control. In other words, an outcome for which there is no supporting evidence, only an assumption that the desired outcome would have been achieved.)

No evidence had been presented to the commission nor had the commission uncovered evidence to support allegations of either direct complicity in or planning of the massacre by the police. It explicitly states that no evidence had been presented to the commission to link de Klerk, his cabinet, and senior members of the SAP.51 The Washington Post and the New York Times report the findings of the commission as having exonerated de Klerk.

"In the absence of such evidence," the report said, " the commission considers that allegations to the effect that government and security force leaders are directly responsible for the current violence are unwise, unfair, and dangerous." (Ref. BC cycle/ Lexis-Nexis/ Goldstone Commission/doc. 38 of 54, 6 July 1992)

The ANC summarily rejects the conclusions Goldstone had reached. The Commission, it said had missed the point by narrowing the issue to one of state culpability to the context of "direct complicity in or planning of the violence." Culpability, it said "extends to acts of commission and omission." In addition, the ANC found it "odd that the Commission can make so conclusive a determination without evidence being laid before it."(Ibid.)

In short, the ANC was arguing, there had be to evidence that de Klerk and the SAP were not guilty, before the Goldstone Commission could reach the conclusions it had with respect to the security force's involvement in the massacre. And that thus, "the exoneration of the security forces in the Boipatong massacre and other acts of violence…is premature." (Ref. Lexis- Nexis/Xinshua general Overseas news Service/Goldstone Commission/doc. 41 Of 54)

The Government charge foul; that the ANC is so intent on damning de Klerk that it will not even accept the findings of a commission whose impartiality is accepted by all South Africans, including an overwhelming number of Blacks.

I raise the matter with Goldstone in July 1992. He responds with the fastidious judicial distinctions he is renowned for. South Africa, Goldstone says, is in a conflict situations; each side is trying to claim the moral high ground.

As is usual in this sort of situation there is some justification for both interpretations. The ANC is correct and it's something I've discussed at some length with both Mr. Mandela and Cyril Ramaphosa. We are a is a judicial Commission and we can only make findings on evidence. Procedures again are important even if frustrating.

If we have evidence, we have hearings and they have to be proper hearings and if people who are found guilty haven't had their proper opportunity to examine witnesses and to test evidence they are not going to accept findings. But it's very important, even though there may be urgency, that we follow proper procedures otherwise our findings are going to be of no consequence and of no use and will lack credibility.

The statement that we made in that report arose from allegations which were being made more and more frequently by ANC leaders, including Mr. Mandela, accusing President de Klerk of direct involvement in the violence and it seemed to me to be inappropriate, incorrect and unfair to make that sort of allegation when after nine months of its activities the Commission has received no allegation, no evidence at all of any such involvement.

The statement I made wasn't a finding. It was misrepresented by some political leaders in the ANC and particularly in some of the ANC supporting press that this was an incorrect finding by the Commission. It wasn't a finding. It was a statement of fact that no evidence had been given to us implicating President de Klerk, Cabinet Ministers or senior Police officers and I added, and there was a constant omission [in media reports and ANC reactions] of a sentence in the same paragraph which said that if such evidence is presented to the Commission it will be thoroughly investigated.

It wasn't a finding that there was no direct involvement [of either de Klerk or the command structures of the SAP]. It was a statement of fact that we have been given no evidence of direct involvement. I went on to say that in the absence of that evidence it seemed to me unfair, unwise and dangerous to make the sort of allegations the ANC was making.52


But Goldstone is forgetting the old adage that all is fair in love and war. In June 1992, one would be hard put to make the case for there being evidence of even the slightest infatuation between the ANC and the NP. No evidence to support the ANC's allegations has ever surfaced.

Despite Waddington's conclusion regarding the absence of police collusion, his findings are damning in most other respects.

Yes, the police were in Boipatong during the massacre. There was a police station in the middle of the township but its officers did nothing to stop the massacre. Nor did the police and soldiers who had congregated at a petrol station across the road while the massacre was occurring within their sight and they could hear the terrified screams of innocents hapless in the face of the murderous attack, the sole purpose of which was to kill as many people as possible, even children, in the shortest time possible. But they did nothing except to call for help on their radios.

Waddington is scathing. The police response, he says, was "woefully inadequate, poorly coordinated and badly planned, indicative of a disturbing indifference to Black lives."56

With the international spotlight on de Klerk and his government, and the burden on both to show lack of security force complicity rather than to merely assert that the neither the state nor its satellite security organs were involved in the incident, one would have thought, says Waddington, that the SAP would have done everything in its power to ensure an exemplary investigation and correct with ruthless vigor any defects in the investigating process.

But there were numerous defects that were not addressed, defects of a magnitude that Waddington concludes that "it must be assumed to be regarded the normal practice, or at least unavoidable." The manner of the investigation in Boipatong gives "rise to the suspicion that the style of investigation adopted in this case, and perhaps in South Africa generally, is confession-oriented: the aim of the investigation being to obtain confessions from suspects and the incrimination of others. Without supporting evidence, only obtainable from township residents and thorough forensic investigation, this is a strategy that is doomed to failure." The paradox, according to Waddington is " that the imperative to seek confessions lies in the fact that there is precious little prospect of obtaining evidence by other means."

The examination of the crime scene at Boipatong, he reports, was superficial, not because of lack of expertise but rather of manpower. "Unless scenes of crime are examined more effectively than those at Boipatong – and with so few forensic examiners routinely coping with so many demands, it is difficult to imagine they are –sophisticated analytical facilities are of little consequence." It is pointless, he says, "as in the Boipatong case to confiscate weapons from the alleged perpetrators and place e them in a pile without conducting the necessary forensic tests to link the weapon to a specific individual." South Africa lacked the structures and methods of policing "that are familiar elsewhere I the world."

The police had failed to prepare for the violence. They had reacted to it in a way that 'allowed this massacre to be perpetrated unhindered." Both their failure to have measures in place to prepare for the violence and the ineptness of the investigation into the massacre "amount to a basic failure to serve the people of Boipatong, but it does not suggest complicity" the report concluded. "Omissions arose, not out of deliberation, but incompetence." Had their been complicity, the report said the police "could have covered their tracks, but all the evidence suggests a genuine desire to identify the perpetrators and prosecute them."

Waddington also raised questions about the prospects of winning convictions. Most of the evidence compiled against the hostel dwellers was from confessions, which were not a sufficient basis for securing convictions in a South African court.(Since when?)

Potentially crucial forensic evidence was lost because of investigative blunders. The police had allowed the hostel inmates to surrender their weapons in a heap, making it impossible to identify the owners of individual weapons. (In the only other massacre case in which the police had brought charges – the killing of 38 mourners at a political funeral in ---- in 1991-murder charges were thrown out of court because of police bungling) (ref.).

The only note of "consolation" for the police was Waddington's findings that police were hampered in their efforts by the ANC because the ANC had discouraged witnesses from co-operating. However, this did not excuse police mishandling of the case.

Waddington brought attention to the "failure of leadership at all levels," going on to say that "perhaps after decades of enforcing apartheid laws, the SAP must learn afresh how to cultivate relationships and adapt tactics to achieve public accountability."

Waddington identified a number of flaws and mistakes of both police procedure and police judgment, which suggested that the SAP suffered from "serious organizational problems" pertaining to inadequate command and control; ineffective intelligence and contingency planning; unstructured investigation; and insufficient awareness of community relations.

As regards inadequate command and control, the report notes that "The unavailability of manpower and the deployment of those that were available allowed this massacre to be perpetrated unhindered…Senior commanders showed a lack of basic strategic planning and tactical implementation."

As a result of "ineffective intelligence and contingency planning," routine assessments of variations in tensions in sensitive areas was underdeveloped. The police lacked adequate contingency planning to deal with the KwaMadala hostel situation, even though it had been a source of policing problems for some time. "The debriefing that has taken place has been grossly inadequate and lessons from it seem not to have been learned…. To judge from Boipatong, the SAP lack adequate mechanisms for internal and external accountability, since they seem unable or unwilling to establish what action was taken by whom with what result."

Discussing the police's "unstructured investigation," the report said superficial scenes of crime investigation seemed endemic, since there were few grossly over-burdened officers to do this work in the area, and they lacked adequate management. The SAP's "case-docket" approach to investigation was inadequate for an inquiry as complex as Boipatong.

Under the final "insufficient awareness of community relations" section, the report said the police seemed to take a "more accommodating approach" towards hostel dwellers than township residents. "This might create an understandable suspicion of favoritism in that direction, however false."


The lambasting of the SAP pleases the ANC, although it harbors cynical reservations regarding the conclusions that the SAP's problems are structural and that it is unfit to carry out an investigation on the scale a Boipatong-like crime must pursue if successful prosecutions are to follow. "We state on record," the ANC says, "That the manifestations incompetence and failures of the police, a s confirmed by the report, is evidence, at best, of the neglect and indifference of the police to the plight of township residents and/or a conscious refusal to address the serious nature and consequences of the violence in our townships, At worst, it is symptomatic of a more sinister involvement in the massacre." (ref: ANC statement issued on 23 July 1992) But it added, that since the frame of reference for Waddington did not include the question of what the police actually did when they were in Boipatong during the massacre, it had not absolved the police of complicity.

The irony is that the ANC once in government finds itself attributing the failure of the SAPS to arrest the astronomical increase in crime to the police service's lack of forensic skills and the trained personnel who have to build a case out of a meticulous accumulation of evidence that can be corroborated.

In August, Major Christo Davidson, the SAP officer charged with investigating whether the security forces had assisted the hostel dwellers before, during, or after the massacre, told the Goldstone Commission that tape recordings of 13 hours of radio transmissions between police officers in the area before, during, and after the attack had been accidentally erased, and that the original sound was found to have been recorded over. {How was Davidson in a position to say that the tapes had been accidentally erased?} The erasure, Davidson told the commission, was due to a "technical" problem, which he was unable to explain. The tapes were immediately surrendered to the commission [why hadn't Davidson informed the commission of the erasure before he was called to testify?]

Davidson also told the commission that following his investigation, he was satisfied that the police had not been involved in the massacre, and that the SAP response to reports of the attack had been conducted in accordance with proper procedure. (Ref. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts/ SAPA 11 August 1992)

In November, British analysts – believed to be experts working with one of the intelligence agencies – (Ref. The Guardian 4 November 1992) who had examined the tapes concluded that the tapes had probably been tampered with, that the erasure "may not have been accidental." Goldstone dismissed the British finding as being speculation, since the British embassy had told him that " the British experts were unwilling to furnish further information and in particular the reasons for the tentative suggestion contained in their report." Nor would they "be prepared to give evidence in support of their conclusions. Thus, Goldstone said that no conclusion could be drawn from the British report, because it was tentative and unsupported by evidence. He also said that contrary to the British conclusions, it had been established that sections of the recordings could be heard and understood. (Where does this come from?)

Goldstone submitted a copy of a draft press statement on the issue to the Foreign Office. Within days the foreign Office received an addendum to the original report, which said that "some of the material superimposed on the tapes was intelligible, but much of it was not distinguishable without the aid of technical analysis." Technical analysis had revealed that some of the material superimposed on the tape was recorded at a non-standard speed, equivalent to between a third and a quarter of normal the standard recording speed. In addition some of the superimposed material had been recorded backwards." These factors "had led the experts to conclude that the superimposition of material on the tapes may not have been accidental." (Ref. Ibid.)

Left out of most accounts that insinuate police complicity and cover-up is the fact that the British experts who insisted that the police tapes, which were supposed to contain the evidence to support these allegations, contained nothing but "masking sound" had been playing them back at the wrong speed.( Ref. Rian Malan.) [How does this fit with the above statement?] Goldstone replied that the comment from London did not alter the commission's conclusions about the value of the British report. Moreover the embassy confirmed that the experts consulted in Britain could not give evidence before the commission and it declined to give reasons why they couldn't. [why does Malan dismiss all this as a farce as if the Brits had somehow screwed up?]

Not that this revelation did anything to alter the ANC's continued insistence that the tapes had been tampered with. In the world of conflict politics, allegations once made are never withdrawn; one is never wrong, acknowledgment that one might have been is seen as providing cannon fodder to the enemy.

On 10 August 1992 82 hostel dwellers appeared in court on charges of public violence and murder. They were remanded in custody until 28August. (Ref. The Toronto Star 12 August 1992) In May 1993, murder charges were brought against 74 KwaMadala inmates, 30 went to trial. The trial lasted for more than a year and produced a record running to 3,879 pages. The state maintained that the killers had acted alone. The lawyers of the accused, in a strategy wrought with irony, put the state on trial, charging that the police, army, and other unaccounted for Third Force elements were the real perpetrators.

The state called about 120 witnesses – someone from almost every house where either someone was murdered or seriously injured. Not a single one says that he saw police vehicles assisting the attackers. Not one of them corroborates the allegations the ANC made before the Goldstone Commission.

To take the evidence of a single witness: Eugenius N Mnqithi, was a teenager from Small Farms, near Everton. A week before the massacre a young woman was murdered on her way home from a drinking party at his parents' home. A suspect was summarily executed by ANC supporters. They also burn down his parents' house. Mnqithi flees for his life and takes refuge in the KwaMadala hostel, begging for protection. A week later, he says, he is summoned to the hostel stadium along with the other male inmates. There is a call to arms. He is cowed into the massacre. The following morning, finding KwaMadala surrounded by security forces, he flees again, this time back to Everton. A street committee spares him from being necklaced but hands him over to ANC operatives who take him to Shell House, then to the Nicholls law firm, and finally, arrange safe accommodations. At the trial Mnqithi swears that he made a statement telling all to Caroline Nicholls, a partner in the ANC -aligned law firm Nicholls, Cambinis, and Sudano, which had been campaigning since the early 1990s to have the KwaMadala hostel closed down on the grounds that it had become an Inkatha "barracks" that launched attacks on surrounding communities supporting the ANC. After the massacre Nicholls had become a familiar figure in Boipatong, helping to prepare the ANC's submission to the Goldstone commission. In this capacity she meets Mnduithi. Mnduithi says he made a full statement to Nicholls at her law firm in Johannesburg, identical to the one he later made to state prosecutors. Nicholls denies that he ever made a statement. Nevertheless, the ANC keep him under wraps.

But state prosecutors learn that the ANC has knowledge of Mnduithi's whereabouts and threaten to issue a subpoena unless he is made available to the court.

On 15 September 1993, Mnqithi takes the witness stand and tells all. He identifies the perpetrators – the men sitting in the dock. All Zulus from the hostel. He points to the induna who whipped the impi into a fighting frenzy; to the man whom administered the battle muti; to the man who brandished the AK-47. And on he goes, pointing at one defendant after another. No whites were involved. No police were present, nor did any police assist in any way either during the massacre or after.

In his judgment, Smit makes reference to "certain people and organizations" with a "direct political interest in the outcome" interfering with the Boipatong investigation. He also observes that "the ANC was aware, at least through [Mnqithi] that the police were not responsible for the attack" and that " it would appear that the ANC withheld this witness [Mnqithi] from the Goldstone commission because he failed to support their case."

"What you did required a death sentence." Smit told the 17 Black men, all supporters of Inkatha, whom he had found guilty of the massacre. "But after weighing evidence from expert witnesses, including social workers, I have decided that sentences in this regard are not suitable. However, I am going to remove you from society. (Ref. Re poor choice of words: SSC etc.) He handed down jail sentences ranging from 10 to 18 years."(Ref. Press Association Newsfile, 9 June 1994) He ordered the names of the 17 men not to be published after hearing arguments from the defence counsel that witnesses had been murdered during the lengthy trial and the accused would be endangered.(Ref. Xinhua News Agency, 9 June 1994.) [In danger from whom? Police/ ANC/ Inkatha?]

The ANC did not bother to rebut the judge's findings. Matters seem to rest. Whatever the truth, the ANC had accomplished what it had set out to do: demonize de Klerk and eviscerate the NP as an opponent of any consequence in the Black community.

May 1997:

The ANC and the IFP are what's left of the government of national unity. The once feared, hated, and despised Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the unrelenting target of ANC vilification before de Klerk assumed the mantle, is Minister of Home Affairs. When Mandela and Mbeki are out of the country he assumes the role of acting-president, presides in that capacity over an ANC dominated cabinet. An uneasy peace, but peace nevertheless, prevails in Natal. The transition from the apartheid regime to representative democracy is proceeding smoothly, although not without the occasional hiccup.

The TRC has moved into full gear, applications for amnesty solicited. The first Boipatong applicant comes from Victor Mthembu, former deputy leader of the KwaMadala youth brigade. Mthembu is serving over 200 years for his role on Boipatong and other killings. A native of Nongoma, he had moved to the Vaal Triangle in 1986. In his application he identifies July 1990 as the starting point of the events that later would come to haunt Boipatong:

According to his account Zulus returning from a rally launching a Boipatong branch of the IFP at Iscor where they work find their hostel occupied by armed ANC militants. Five Inkatha supporters are killed in the confrontation that follows. Mthembu himself looses all his possessions and becomes a refugee. "We are told", he tells the amnesty committee (full disclosure, a political motive, even if vague, and the full truth are required conditions for the granting of amnesty) "that the ANC had decided Gauteng should be an ANC area. We must go back to KwaZulu and ask Buthelezi for work." Instead they break into an abandoned Iscor hostel called KwaMadala and survive as best they can. "Every weekend," he continues, "someone would be raped, murdered or necklaced. Things got worse until they were unbearable." When indunas "sounded the call to arms" on the night of 17 June, "every man there was ready to fight." He gathered his weapons, marched into Boipatong and "blindly stabbed those whom came across my path."

Mthembu's co-convicted accused him of disloyalty. In his application for amnesty he had implicated Prince BV Zulu, a minor member of the Zulu royal family who lived in KwaMadala and named IFP Gauteng leader Themba Khosa as an accessory. He also disclosed that 50 men from Msinga – clan brothers of an induna from Abatenjeni had been sent to the hostel to strengthen its defenses. [how does Malan know that the others who were convicted see him as being disloyal? Is he out on bail, pending an appeal? Are all the convicted out on bail, including Khwesa and Mobate? Are they all staying at KwaMadala hostel? If they're out on bail, why haven't they disappeared into thin air?]

But the accusations of disloyalty don't last. One after another, the others convicted in connection with the massacre follow in Mthembu's footsteps and file for amnesty. No one mentions the presence of Casspirs, the involvement of policemen, white men with Blackened faces. In fact whites simply don't figure in their narratives.


The TRC devotes 20 paragraphs – some 2800 words to Boipatong. Its exposition is confusing, sometimes contradictory, and leaves in doubt whether the commission "investigated" the incident or relied on selective sources. In parts it plagiarizes parts of other reports that are highly partisan and rely on untested, uncorroborated, and highly selective allegations made in the immediate aftermath of the incident and before any knew for certain what exactly had happened in Boipatong on the fateful night. It juxtaposes references to Boipatong with references to the Slovo Park squatter settlement in which a massacre had also occurred on 17 June, the perpetrators also alleged to have come from the KwaMadala hostel. The TRC's examination of the evidence it collected, statements, both solicited and non-solicited, and oral hearings leads it to the following analysis of the events triggering the massacre:

On the 17 June 1992, the Boipatong massacre was allegedly launched from the KwaMadala hostel in the Vaal by a group of more than 200 men armed with knives, pangas and guns, leaving at least forty-five people dead and twenty-two injured. Victims included at least nine children, two babies and seventeen women, one of whom was pregnant.42 Residents were raped, hacked, stabbed, shot, beaten and disemboweled. Hundreds of homes were attacked and looted. Victims said they had been attacked by white men in security force uniform and Black men with red and white head bands speaking Zulu and chanting Zulu slogans.

Conflict had been brewing in Sebokeng for some time. Zulu-speaking people in the township gravitated towards the KwaMadala hostel as tensions between themselves and the ANC increased. Attacks were allegedly perpetrated against the property of IFP supporters and Zulu-speaking people.

Repeated complaints from residents about violence emanating from KwaMadala hostel were ignored, as were petitions made by the Vaal Council of Churches to the police, ISCOR and the Goldstone Commission from early 1991. No action was taken and violence escalated unchecked.

According to the an article published in the Weekly Mail, twenty people were killed and ten injured in nine incidents of violence linked to KwaMadala hostel between January 1991 and May 1992, prior to the Boipatong massacre43. Before the massacre, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) submitted evidence to the Goldstone Commission to the effect that most of the violence in the Vaal emanated from KwaMadala.

Before the attack that occurred on 17 June 1992, a large contingent of police in plain clothes and camouflage uniforms began patrolling the township and removing barricades. A resident described this as being "unusual in Boipatong". Members of SDUs repaired the barricades after the police left. A number of warnings were received and passed on to high-ranking officers in the local police. At about 20h00 on the night of 17 June, Boipatong residents, fearing an attack, patrolled the streets. At 21h00 police arrived in the township and patrolling youths were ordered to get off the streets.44 Those who did not were allegedly tear gassed. The police reported that they fired birdshot when a police patrol was petrol-bombed on three occasions. The police denied using tear gas.

At approximately 21h30, Mr Meshack Theoane, a petrol attendant at a petrol station on the corner of Frikkie Meyer and Nobel Boulevard, approximately 300 metres from Boipatong, activated an automatic alarm when he witnessed a large group of armed men crossing the highway from the direction of KwaMadala hostel. The alarm was connected to the police station at Vanderbijlpark. Shortly thereafter, two white men arrived at the filling station in a van and asked Theoane why he had rung the alarm. He explained that there was a group of armed men entering the township from KwaMadala, but they seem uninterested in this information and left the area.

A security guard who was with Meshack Theoane at the filling station, then radioed his employers to report the movement of the armed men. Two white security men arrived at the filling station a few minutes later and apparently called the police on their radios. Two white policemen then arrived at the filling station and spoke to the security men, whereupon the security men said that the police had instructed them to take Theoane and the security guard away from the filling station because it was not safe. However the attendant and the guard returned to the garage later and saw the armed group leave Boipatong at about 22h30. 9.30-10.00pm

At 22h00, workers on the late shift at nearby factories Iscor, Metal Box and Cape Gate reported seeing two groups of police, one on the west and the other on the east side of the township, dropping off men from Casspirs at points next to Slovo squatter camp. Soon afterwards, the attacks began. 10.00pm

The attackers started at the Slovo squatter settlement and then moved through the township, [what township are they talking about] killing and injuring people and damaging property (at least fifty homes were attacked in the township). Twenty people died in Slovo Park.

The attackers divided into three groups. The first squad allegedly moved ahead – shouting, breaking windows and causing confusion. It was followed by a second squad, armed mainly with pangas and assegais, which broke into houses and attacked residents. While this was happening, the third squad, reportedly consisting mainly of armed white men, surrounded the houses and gunned down anyone who tried to escape through the windows and doors. Twenty-one people died in Boipatong Township. [what Boipatong township are they talking about: now you have 43 in Boipatong; 21 in Boipatong township(s); 20 in Slovo Park, and a Boipatong that measures 800 meters from end to end. Why did de Klerk not include Slovo Park on his itinerary. Wasn't he slighting the people of Boipatong. Why the absence of coverage of Slovo Park?]

Numerous allegations were made about the attackers and alleged security force collusion in the attack. Residents reported the following:

a) The attackers were Inkatha-supporting hostel-dwellers from the KwaMadala Hostel which was owned by Iscor.

b) Some of the attackers were wearing white headbands, white gloves and white takkies.

c) The attackers asked for comrades or ANC members.

d) White men were allegedly involved in the attack. One resident alleged that the attack was led by white people with Blackened faces; two residents reported that they heard a white man saying "Moenie praat nie, skiet net..." (Don't talk, just shoot); and white uniformed men in armoured vehicles were seen assisting the attackers.45

e) Attackers were seen getting out of police armoured vehicles on the outskirts of the township.

f) A resident from one of the first homes attacked reported that a police Hippo backed into the fence surrounding the house moments before they were attacked.

g) One resident reported that he saw a green police Casspir parked next to Slovo camp as he fled his home.

h) A police Casspir followed the attackers as they left the township in the direction of the KwaMadala Hostel.

i) Police failed to respond to calls of help from residents.

The Human Rights Commission Area repression Report for June 1992 reads as follows:

a) The attackers were Inkatha-supporting hostel-dwellers from the KwaMadala Hostel which was owned by Iscor.

b) Some of the attackers were wearing white headbands, white gloves and white takkies.

c) The attackers asked for comrades or ANC members.

d) White men were allegedly involved in the attack. One resident alleged that the attack was led by white people with Blackened faces; two residents reported that they heard a white man saying "Moenie praat nie, skiet net..." (Don't talk, just shoot); and white uniformed men in armoured vehicles were seen assisting the attackers.45

e) Attackers were seen getting out of police armoured vehicles on the outskirts of the township.

f) A resident from one of the first homes attacked reported that a police Hippo backed into the fence surrounding the house moments before they were attacked.

g) One resident reported that he saw a green police Casspir parked next to Slovo camp as he fled his home.

h) A police Casspir followed the attackers as they left the township in the direction of the KwaMadala Hostel.

i) Police failed to respond to calls of help from residents.]

In short, the TRC accepted without any investigation whatsoever the HRC's rendition of events in Boipatong (Slovo Park?) To the extent that it incorporated verbatim, down to the last period, parts of its report into its own. The most antagonistic would rant plagiarism, the most sympathetic simply attribute it to sloppiness or incompetence, or an over-eagerness on the part of some research assistant to put the stamp of authenticity on what those who had throughout the bitter years of apartheid on the side of justice and right.

At some point what you believe becomes a product of what you have been subjected to or witnessed in the past. The past sometimes metamorphoses, but what we believe may not. In one sense it is a form of denial. Even with apartheid in its death throes, for many the investment in the fight to end it proved too high to easily abandon without abandoning some sense of self. When the pursuit of a cause becomes an integral part of one's identity, the achievement of that cause throws one's sense of identity into temporary disarray, it becomes fragmented, resisting efforts to reintegrate itself, a sort of codependency factor asserts itself, not having the state to blame for every conceivable wrongdoing robs life of part of its meaning.

That said, you couldn't help but wonder where else in the TRC Report similar "irregularities" might have occurred, and if they have what it means.


As regards Boipatong, Judge Richard Goldstone, head of the commission which had the investigation of what had happened at Boipatong, especially with regard to police involvement and possible cover -up added to its brief put some of the issues in perspective:

[There] is an insensitively on the part of the government to understand that when you've had 45 years of apartheid and 300 years of racial discrimination, you can't suddenly turn round to people and say: we're very sorry we've adopted a wrong policy. We've caused tremendous dislocation to many millions of Black South Africans which has resulted in the deaths and injuries of many Black South Africans. It was a wrong policy and we're starting again. And to expect that there's a clean slate and that people will suddenly believe that all the leopards have changed their spots and that they must start again. I was reading this morning an article by Anthony Lewis in the New York Times where he gives fan account of four or five incidences of police misconduct, but they all relate to pre-1990.

Now I can understand any Black South African in particular saying it's all very well to say that there's a new policy since 1990 but the Police are the same policemen, the government Ministers are the same government Ministers and we're going to continue judging them by their past failures and misdemeanors and criminal activities of the police. But at the same time statements alleging police and government complicity in violence) cannot be allowed to be made without being challenged because they are dangerous in the sense that they are violence provoking.

POM. Why hasn't de Klerk taken sweeping action? For example, why after Boipatong did he not immediately suspend the police who witnessed the massacre but didn't step in, suspend their superiors for failure to take appropriate follow-up actions until a full investigation was completed. Beyond requesting your commission to conduct an investigation into the allegations of police involvement he wasn't seen as seen to be doing something. Seen to be responding to the allegations in a pro-active way. He is not seen as doing that.

RG. It's very complicated. It's really a question you should ask him. I'm not suggesting he would have done it anyway, but I think it was made more difficult for him to do because of the extreme allegations that were made immediately about police involvement, and his involvement in relation to Boipatong. On a psychological level, at least, I think it made it very difficult for him to do that sort of thing in the light of the very provocative statements that were made.

. There's no question in my mind that the ANC made adroit use -- and I don't in any way want to lessen the horror of what was a tragic and awful massacre, but it wasn't all that different from other incidents of violence in South Africa – of the situation. I think the timing, it's being the catalyst for U.N Security Council Debate on South Africa, the whole very well organised -- and I say that with absolute admiration, because it was a well organised and not in any way improperly organised publicity campaign against the violence that had become rampant, and as it turns out directly against police inefficiency in relation to the steps that could have been taken to prevent it (the Boipatong massacre) and the subsequent investigation.

. But Inkatha to an extent has correctly pointed out that there was a Crossroads massacre where Inkatha supporters were killed in large numbers, but there was no international outcry. So, again there I think it was difficult for de Klerk to be seen to be taking one sort of action in relation to Boipatong when he hadn't taken it elsewhere.

. On the other side, I don't think it's all that easy. It's a huge police force, it's a huge army and so far certainly, as far as anybody is aware, it's remained fully committed to supporting government policy. I don't think it's all that easy for the government to take any steps it wishes.

. It's been coming through to me loudly and clearly in the past few weeks that there's tremendous unhappiness within the police force. They are feeling beleaguered, they are being attacked from all sides, hundreds of policemen have been killed -- well over a hundred this year, both white and Black policemen.

. Many of them are feeling that whatever they do is being criticized as being wrong. Some of them are saying, well let us be blamed for omission rather commission, at least less of us will get killed. We're not part of the violence. The attitude of many white policemen is that Black people are killing each other and why must they put their lives laid on the line. Many of their families, especially in conservative quarters, are saying 'what the hell's going on here? Police are going into these troubled areas and being killed, why must we be involved?' So I don't think it's that simple. I don't think it would have been an easy decision to take.

POM. In a way you're addressing what would have been my next question, it relates to this issue of alienation and morale. Can de Klerk take an action that would involve sweeping the organisation of the command structures and peace work or whatever, does it further undermine the morale of the police on the ground, alienate them from the government and make them maybe less willing to carry out their responsibilities as police officers or more disposed to thwarting the will of the government?

RG. I hope Dr Waddington's report will assist in that regard. I think it's an important document and I have no doubt that de Klerk played a very active role in ensuring that there was a sensible response from the police to the very serious criticisms contained in the report.

. It's been a very unusual response from the South African Police, in a way thanking Dr Waddington, saying that the report is being taken very seriously. The Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel, has called for a response from the Police to him within seven days and they are going to re-think and have a new look at all of the absence of systems and all the criticisms that Waddington had identified. [did he ever get the response? Is it available?]

. What's important, too, in the Waddington Report is what is the praise for the lower ranks who were involved in Boipatong. That they were left in the lurch by their leaders, that there was no leadership in the police, that there were no proper systems of investigation. I would imagine that in the lower ranks this will be seen as some sort of support for what they must realise, even subconsciously but now perhaps it will come more to the surface, that they haven't been given proper support by leadership by their superiors.

POM. Reading the extracts of the report that were available in the newspapers what puzzles me is that in the past one has this image of the South African Police Force as being one of the most ruthlessly efficient Police Forces in the world, that it could smell an ANC activist -

RG. It's a fiction.

POM. - from 15000 meters away as it were, follow every lead, pursue everybody involved in what they called subversive activities until it had cornered its suspects, and had enormously successful and powerful investigative practices at its disposal, and yet, you say this is all broadly fiction?

RG. I think it was partly a fiction. Again I'm not a police expert and what I'm saying may be way off the mark but it's my own impression, -- everything I'm saying this morning is not on behalf of the Commission or on behalf of any official position I may hold -- that until recently the South African Police success -- and they have been successful -- has rested on two elements.

. The one is confessions. Dr Waddington points out that it's a confession orientated police force. They believe in solving crime by getting confessions rather than by good detective work. The second, *****and perhaps more important is that -- and I think and it's no secret -- it's accepted that the South African Police over years built up very, very efficient and widespread systems of informants.

. The informers have dried up as a result of political changes and intimidation. It's become a lot more dangerous in the early 1990s to be a police informer than it was in the 1970s and the 1980s and to that extent I suppose violence and intimidation have had success. But I have no doubt that this whole idea of an efficient police force is incorrect both in relation to the actual methods used and also in relation to manpower. It's a tremendously over-stretched police force and one is seeing more and more admission of that. There's a shortage of manpower even with the increased numbers of policemen who have been appointed recently by the government.

. I think it's a dangerous fiction because I think it's particular unfair to de Klerk. If you assume an efficient police force the fact that they don't perform, particularly in the violence -ridden areas leads to one of two inferences. Either they are not carrying out their duties, as directed to by de Klerk or they are not carrying out their duties because he has directed them not to. I believe both are untrue.

The TRC report continues:

The Commission received a number of statements from victims of the Boipatong massacre, [which Boipatong are we talking about now – the one in which twenty or was it twenty one people died or the one in which either forty three or forty five people did?] some of whom also spoke at a special hearing. Ms Dinah Sibongile Manyika told the Commission that both her parents were stabbed to death. Mr Klaas Mathope's wife and nine-month-old son Aaron were killed. Ms Jane Nozililo Mbongo was stabbed, her husband killed and her younger daughter also stabbed. Ms Miriam Molete told how her husband was killed and how she, her sister and three-year-old daughter Mita were stabbed. Ms Paulina Matsie Mbatha, who is now in a wheelchair, told the Commission how she was stabbed in the neck, stomach and back with a sharp instrument.

Some of the victims subsequently described their experiences during the massacre:

I was asleep and was awakened by women screaming. I thought she was being beaten by her man/husband. I went out to help. When I came out I saw four men throwing a baby onto the floor ... All had white headbands ... I continued to watch and saw a man standing at the back of the house next to mine. He was standing still and fixing the gun. I saw the back of his neck and hair. It was a white man ... When I passed house no 81 I saw the woman lying in the house and the baby child outside. The baby was dead; it could have been hit in the head

My father was killed. I was asleep and my mother woke me up. She said we must get out, as it is bad outside. My mother took the baby, my younger sister on her back ... I saw a man in a dark blue overall and a sports cap running after my mother and then I heard him start to stab her and the baby. My father went out to see ... then this man started hacking my father ... My mother managed to crawl back into the house ... Next morning my father was found in the veld with bullet wounds and he is dead. My baby sister was taken to hospital for treatment.

My house was attacked at about 10:30pm. I was in bed, and heard people breaking windows, chopping doors and then my house was attacked. I asked, "what do you want?" They said "money". They spoke in Zulu saying "Usuthu". Some had red headbands and others had white headbands.

In our house we were sleeping and woke up because we heard breaking of our windows. One group was busy hitting the shacks (they had white head bands and white bands on their arms); they saw me and attacked the house saying, "Get out Mandela's dogs".

Mr Victor Mthembu, leader of the youth section of the IFP in KwaMadala hostel, was one of the participants in the attack. In his amnesty application, he gave his own version of how it was carried out. On the night of 17 June all men in the hostel were called to a meeting:

I attended the meeting where Mkhize, one of the indunas said that we are very tired of the people being killed in Boipatong which resulted in the IFP people having to live in the KwaMadala hostel because their houses were being burnt and they were being killed in Boipatong. Gqonqo said that night we were going to Boipatong to kill the people and said nobody was allowed to stay behind, only the women had to stay in the hostel…

They told us to take our traditional weapons and we had to put red headbands around our heads so that we would be recognised and would not kill one another by mistake…The people of Umsinga were carrying fire arms. I saw about ten who had guns. We were about 300 people who were going to Boipatong… We went into the township and started killing people and looting their houses.

The TRC:

Mr Victor Mthandeni Mthembu claimed that regional IFP leader, Mr Themba Khoza, came to the hostel the day after the massacre and allegedly told hostel residents to burn any evidence including blood-stained clothes and looted goods.

In the wake of the massacre, numerous Boipatong residents alleged that white men with Blackened faces had taken part in the attack, that the security forces were present during the massacre and had either stood by and watched while the attack took place or actively participated by transporting the attackers to or from Boipatong. As the Goldstone Commission began its deliberations, tapes of transactions in the Control Room of the Internal Stability Unit (ISU) were erased.

Despite these allegations of police complicity in the Boipatong massacre, Justice JMC Smit, delivering judgment on sixteen KwaMadala hostel residents convicted of involvement in the massacre, unequivocally stated that, in the light of the testimony he had heard, there was no evidence to support the allegation that the police in any way participated or were involved in the Boipatong massacre. He concluded that the erasure of the tapes was the result of incompetence rather than a deliberate attempt to hide evidence of police complicity in the attack and came to a similar conclusion as regards the bullet shells which had been destroyed. Justice Goldstone also stated that he had not received any evidence that led him to conclude that the police were involved in the attack. In addition, Dr PA Waddington, who headed the inquiry into the police investigation of the massacre, concluded that the omissions in the police investigation were the result of inefficiency and incompetence rather than part of a deliberate cover-up.

[No mention of the fact that during the commission's hearings on Boipatong which were held in Sebokeng, only one of all the survivors to testify alleged police involvement.

No mention of the 120 witnesses from almost every household in which someone had been killed or injured at the trial of the men charged with the murders that not one of them, under cross-examination claimed that whites were present or that police vehicles had assisted the attackers.

No mention that the lawyers for the defendants could not elicit corroboration from these witnesses for any of the claims made by the ANC to the Goldstone Commission. No mention that the 3 hours of tape recordings of radio calls to the police Internal Stability on the night of the massacre had not been erased, allegedly as part of a cover-up, but that they had been played back at the wrong speed by British experts who had insisted that the tapes contained nothing but "masking sound."

No mention that the ANC that they should only make statements to representatives of the ANC.

No mention that the lawyer representing the residents, Danny Berger, kept Mthembu on the witness for three days but was unable to get him to change his story: that the massacre was initiated by Inkatha Zulus in KwaMadala who were intent on vengeance, that they weren't put up to it by the police and that neither the police nor any white people was e party to any part of the murderous attacks that took place on the night of 17 June, that there were no Casspirs, no white gunmen.

No mention that each of the 14 other killers who had applied for amnesty had also sworn that the massacre was a Zulu affair and that they weren't put up to it by police or white people. Cursory one sentence references to both the Goldstone Commission and the Waddington report, noting their conclusions but withholding comment.

No reference to any investigations the TRC itself had undertaken to lead it to refute their conclusions, nothing more than a simple dismissal of the verdict in a trial that lasted for over a year, resulted in the conviction of 15 Inkatha members who resided in the KwaMadala hostel but exonerated the police of collusion in either the planning of, assisting or participating in the attack in which every witness was subjected to rigorous cross-examination; a trail in which every allegation was probed and either corroborated or not corroborated in accordance with the procedures of criminal law.

Perhaps most disturbing, however, is the manner which the TRC ultimately appears to have reached its findings. First, the commission recounts a "number of statements made by the victims of Boipatong massacre." They are horrific, sickening, unimaginable in the random fury the murders went about their work; the lust to kill is overwhelming, the merciless a chilling reminder of our devouring capacity to annihilate each, of the absence of rationality, of how close we are to the dark impulses that are part of our human make-up. But the descriptions; descriptions of evil, no matter how unnerving and gruesome are not evidence of complicity. Of the statements victims made to the commission that are quoted, only one makes a reference to a white person being present, the inference being that if he was white he must have been a policeman. You would have thought that in the light of the certainty with which the commission fins the police involved in every aspect of the massacre, the report itself would have put more emphasis on statements that could be corroborated or allegations that were prove. But that is not the case. If anything, the TRC takes the opposite tack. Second, the commission provides no provides indication of what lengths the commission went to in order to verify allegations, or whether it took them as "evidence" at face value.

It makes no distinctions between "allegations" and "evidence." Indeed, it rests its case for concluding that there was police involvement from the planning of the massacre to its execution on the grounds that "[I] n the wake of the massacre, numerous Boipatong residents alleged that white men with Blackened faces had taken part in the attack, that the security forces were present during the massacre and had either stood by and watched while the attack took place or actively participated by transporting the attackers to or from Boipatong." It does not indicate to whom these statement were made, where they were made, under what circumstances they were made, whether the political affiliations of those alleging police involvement were taken into account or even if they were asked what their political affiliations were and if so, what efforts were made to verify the answers they were given; what criteria were used to evaluate different and sometimes conflicting accounts,

Indeed, given all these questions and the "lifting" of findings of at least one organization that was unabashedly aligned with the ANC, you are left wondering whether the commission actually carried out a full-scale investigation into the incident or whether it wove its accounts from the threads of accounts already in the public domain, and usually biased in one direction. It dismisses Judge Smit's exoneration of the police either in the massacre itself or an attempted cover-up. It provides no indication of the lengths to which the commission went to verify allegations or whether it took them as "evidence" at face value. It makes no distinctions between "allegations and evidence. Indeed, it prefaces its verdict in the trial of the KwaMadala dwellers who were being tried for murder in the case as being made "despite these allegations of police complicity," as if allegations of police complicity were in themselves sufficient evidence to prove complicity. The yardsticks it used to satisfy the standards for establishing the truth seem to have been extraordinarily loose if its investigation of the Boipatong massacre is held to strict scrutiny. In contrast, Goldstone reached his conclusions on the basis of whether evidence could be found to support an allegation.

(Not that the application of rigorous process and the outcomes of such applications has much does much to change beliefs formed before the facts are gathered and analyzed in some coherent manner. Ronnie Kassrils, a former influential member of Umkhonto we Siswe, Deputy Minister of Defence in Mandela's government and currently Minister of Water Affairs in the Mbeki government who blithely writes that

On 17 June, 43 men, women and children were murdered in Boipatong, an ANC aligned squatter camp. For some hours armed men from an Inkatha supporting hostel had gone on a rampage through the camp. The security forces had refused to respond to calls for help. In the days following the massacre, and in the subsequent trial, much evidence emerged of security force complicity in the attack.)

Indeed, the commission's report doesn't even say whether its investigators visited Boipatong, leaving you to wonder whether it ever did, and even if it did to what extent a real and thorough investigation was carried out. On the basis of the TRC's report on Boipatong, the confusion of tongues whether it is referring to Slovo Park or Boipatong itself, its failure to address the question whether the Inkatha impis split into two groups – one heading to Boipatong and the other to Slovo Park, -- or whether there was just one group that ravaged Slovo Park and then moved on, still insatiable for more blood, to Boipatong to finish the night's murderous work. The time frames the TRC uses would suggest that two separate groups of marauders were involved, but there is no indication that anyone was prosecuted in connection with the Slovo Park massacre.

The TRC:

When the accused in the KwaMadala trial appeared in court, they alleged that the police had assaulted them. On 10 July 1993, one of the accused, Mr. Khetisi Kheswa (28) died in police custody. Three police officers were suspended pending an internal inquiry into Kheswa's death. Kheswa had previously been accused of killing thirty-five people in other incidents of unrest. Kheswa, popularly known as the 'Vaal monster', had become infamous since an attack on the Nangalembe night vigil which lead to the death of forty-five people. Some of the incidents to which he was linked included the death of six members of the Lefhiedi family, whose son had recently returned from exile, and the murder of ANC activist Ernest Sotsu's wife, daughter and grandson.

A post mortem conducted by the state pathologist found that Kheswa had died of natural causes (heart failure caused by a virus). The conclusions reached at a later, private post mortem commissioned by the IFP and the Kheswa family were that he had died of "conditions including acute suffocation, electrocution, hypothermia and occult toxic substances." The Attorney-General declined to hold an inquest based on the first post mortem. Kheswa was in the custody of Detective Sergeant Peens at the time of his death.

In August 1993, a second accused, Mr Themba Mabote, died while allegedly trying to escape from a moving police vehicle. Mabote allegedly jumped from the window of a police van and was then run over by a second police van. There were two police officers in the vehicle from which he escaped. Mabote was not wearing handcuffs. Detective Sergeant Peens was in the second vehicle. Whether he was the driver or the passenger is contested. At a section 29 hearing, Peens' superior, Brigadier Mostert, stated that Peens was a passenger, not the driver of the second police vehicle. Detective Sergeant Peens was himself subpoenaed to appear before the Commission. In the early 1990s, Peens was implicated in several cases of torture and deaths in police custody. He was initially linked to the death of Mr Tsepo Lengwati, an MK member, who had informed his attorneys of his fear that Peens intended to kill him. Despite this, Lengwati was removed from the Leeuhof Prison by Peens for purposes of 'investigation'. He was later shot dead during an alleged escape attempt.

On June 20 1992, President De Klerk arrived in Boipatong to express his sympathy to the bereaved families. The depth of anger in the township, however, had been seriously underestimated. As police Casspirs started to leave two hours after the president's departure, youths threw a branch in front of the last Casspir, and when policemen got out to move it the crowd shouted insults at them. Other police went to the scene and created a line facing the crowd, leading to a tense stand-off. Finally the crowd began to leave, and the Casspirs followed them back to the township. One man was shot, however, and when the crowd tried to retrieve his body they were ordered to move back by the police. The crowd shouted at the police. In response, a police officer apparently fired his gun to try to frighten the crowd. This shot was followed by a twenty-second spate of gunfire from the police onto the crowd. Journalists who witnessed the event stated that no order to fire had been given. At least two people were killed and eighteen injured. The police maintained that no casualties had resulted from this incident and that television pictures showing casualties lying on the ground were fabricated by members of the crowd faking death or injury.






In its first finding, the TRC puts the number of injured at 21.Likewise the number of dead varies from one account to another. Allister Sparks, for example, puts the number of people killed at 38; others put the number at 43, others still at 46. Like almost everything associated with the slaughter, nothing could be agreed on – even down to the number who had been killed.

Interestingly, the commission, although it describes the shootings that followed de Klerk's visit to Boipatong in considerable detail (it provides more information on the incident than it does on the substance of the allegations of police complicity – 214 words on the former, 76 on the latter), it makes no finding in the matter. And more interesting still, it devotes more information on the claims by the convicted killers that they were tortured while they were in police custody than on any other aspect of the massacre including the trial that resulted in 15 convictions for murder (386 words on the former, 164 on the latter.) Nor does it provide an explanation as to why it does not make a finding in regard to police conduct following de Klerk's departure from Boipatong, simply leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions. This is all the more surprising, since testimony before the commission regarding the incident could be easily corroborated, given the number of people who were witness to a single event rather than a case in which a single person was witness to multiple events, but whose accounts of events could not be corroborated.

The TRC devotes 189 words to the matter of Kheswa's death. Kheswa died on 10 July 1993, a day after his arrest by police near Boipatong. He was arrested in connection with a massacre of 19 Blacks in Sebokeng April 1993, a Black township near Boipatong, on the eve of Chris Hani's funeral. (Ref.--) He was also linked to the slaughter of 38 people at a funeral vigil in January 1991; to the killing of 22 people by masked gunmen in Sebokeng in June 1993, and, of course, to the 45 deaths in the Boipatong massacre for which he was on trial at the time of his death.

A resident of the KwaMadala hostel, he was known among township residents as the "Vaal Monster" because of the string of crimes and massacres and murders he allegedly was associated with in the Vaal region south of Johannesburg. News of his death did not provoke the public outcry that usually occurs when a Black person dies in police custody. (Ref. Lexix-Nexis/The Associated Press/ Boipatong AND massacre/doc. 40 of 515, 13 July 1993). Rather, when news of his death leaked out, it prompted street-parties across the Vaal. Residents of Boipatong, Sebokeng, and Sharpsville danced in the streets. " We hope that the trail of blood left by faceless gunmen working for Kheswa will now stop flowing," an ANC spokesman in the region said as the news of his death spread. (Lexis-Nexis/Sunday Telegraph/18 July 1993.)

And it did: in the Vaal townships, where violence had continued after the Boipatong massacre, the violence came to an abrupt end with Kheswa's death. (Ref. Johannes Rantete, The African national Congress and the negotiated settlement in South Africa p.107) The ANC hinted that he had been killed by police because they thought he was going to disclose links between the security forces and the violence in the townships. (Ref. Lexus-Nexus/Boipatong AND massacre/The Associated Press/ 15 July 1993.) Another report said Kheswa was about to cooperate with police who were investigating police involvement in township massacres? [For John Battersby].

Kheswa was a member of the IFP, and, it appeared the right-wing neo-Fascist World Preservationist Movement (WPM).(Ref. The Christian Science Monitor, John Battersby, 19 July 1993.) Janus Walusz, the Polish who was convicted of killing Chris Hani was also a supporter of the WPM. The WPM also had links with the Klu Klux Klan, the far-right National Front in Britain, and neo-Nazi groups in Eastern Europe.

WPM leader, Koos Vermeulen, the head of the PWM was one of the first people called by the police to identify Kheswa's body, first confirmed that Kheswa was a member of the WPM, but later retracted his statement after police questioning. However, the fact that Vermeulen had been asked to identify Kheswa's body "puts beyond any doubt that there was a link between them."(Ref. Ibid.) Three policemen were suspended, pending an investigation into the circumstances of Kheswa's death. A police investigation was launched to determine whether there might be any substance to the allegations that Kheswa was killed by police to prevent him from revealing a link between the security forces, extreme right-wing groups, and third -force activities. Even judge Goldstone got into the act. (Ref. Ibid.)

All the stuff of great intrigue, a store of associations that would delight conspiracy theorists. Here, surely, was the "smoking gun" that would prove the link between the far right, the third force, and Inkatha. Yet, the TRC's findings, again accompanied without explanatory comment: The Commission finds that Khesisi Kheswa, one of the accused, died in police custody? No mention anywhere of his links to the WPM, of the results of the police investigation into his death, whether Goldstone pursued the matter, other than ordering a search of Vermeulen's house, no mention of whether the three policemen who had been interrogating him had been charger with anything, whether they were back on the job, whether there was reason to doubt the official explanation that he had died of natural causes. In contrast, the Commission found that the SAP had been responsible for the death of Themba Mabote, another of the accused who met an untimely end while in police custody. Her, without any supporting evidence whatsoever, the TRC arrived at a cut-and-dried finding, that would have no basis in a court of law; indeed, that would have no standing in any forum of inquiry since the only witnesses to Mabote's death were the police, whose accounts of his death corroborated one another.

Given the manner in which the TRC recounts the events of Boipatong, the questions it fails to address, the fleeting references to both the Goldstone Commission's conclusions and the Waddington's Report's findings, its failure to rebut anything either body had deduced as fact after exhaustive investigation, its curt, almost condescending, dismissal of Judge Smit's rejection of police complicity, after a trial that was conducted with adherence to the principles that underpin the rule of law, a trial that met the international community's standards of fairness, evidentiary propriety, and meticulous cross-examination without citing a single reason why it found the judge's rulings inexact or inconclusive, the narrative itself in the TRC's report that juxtaposes allegations and evidence as though they should be accorded equal weight leads one to the reluctant conclusion that the commission did not conduct an investigation into the Boipatong, and that the main sources of its findings are either unsubstantiated allegations or a repetition of "findings" made by politically aligned organizations which began with a set of conclusions and the set out to find the "evidence" to support them.

According to Malan, who undertook to "investigate" how the TRC arrived at its uncompromising findings, devoid of doubt and promulgated with righteous certainty, truth commission investigators did not revisit the massacre and come up with new evidence. Why would he say so? Because Malan says:

… I asked Jan-Ake Kjellberg, a Swedish policeman serving with the truth commission. Apart from a tangential inquiry into the connections, armaments and mysterious death of notorious IFP gunslinger Victor 'Vaal monster' Kheswa, there was no Boipatong investigation, according to Kjellberg. The Swede seemed as perplexed by the truth commission finding as I was. He said, "Based on what, I wonder? [how do I get in touch with Kjelberg?]


The 15 killers who had applied for amnesty were caught in a Catch 22. In their applications for amnesty, applicants had to tell the truth, provide full disclosure, and show that their actions were somehow politically motivated. Each of the applicants had denied police involvement but not their own. (Smit didn't convict the wrong people). Now before their amnesty hearings had begun, the TRC had already come up with the truth: the police were involved in every aspect of the massacre. Hence the amnesty applicants would have to say they lied in their applications, thus making them ineligible for amnesty, or if they stuck with their stories, they would be at odds with the TRC's findings, and thus be lying.

But matters did not rest there. Malan writes:

Enter Andries 'Matanzima' Nosenga, a shy, cross -eyed giant from Evaton. Desperately poor and poorly educated, Nosenga began his political career as a comrade. On a date yet to be determined he fell out with the ANC and defected to Inkatha, claiming that the ANC was trying to kill him. Admitted to KwaMadala and enrolled as a member of the Vaal Monster gang, he claims to have participated in several terroristic attacks. Then he fell out with Inkatha, too, and walked into a Vereeniging police station, stating that he wanted to go to jail. Found guilty of murder , largely on the basis of his own confession, Nosenga had two amnesty applications pending before the truth commission, both arising from drive-by shootings in Sebokeng. Boipatong was not mentioned in either.

When the amnesty commission reconvened in January 1999, however, a terrible mistake was declared. Nosenga wished it to be known that he had played a leading role I the Boipatong, had single-handedly killed eight or nine people'. Indeed, he had filed for amnesty prior to the 1997 deadline, but someone inside the truth commission had somehow misplaced his affidavit. But lo, it had turned up in the nick of time, and here it was – a three page fax, unsworn and unsigned, in which Nosenga offered a version of the massacre that accorded with the truth commission's findings.

Nosenga had even named the secret mastermind of the massacre: Sergeant Pedro Peens, a veteran of the local murder and robbery squad, It was Peens, said Nosenga, who supplied the guns, arranged for 'four to six Casspirs' to be present and brought some white colleagues along to participate in the slaughter.

The amnesty applicants cried nonsense! Inkatha lawyers were unsure whether to laugh or cry. I visited the prison where the affidavit was supposedly taken, and established that Nosenga was not there on the given date.

Had Nosenga broken ranks because he did some quick arithmetic and come to the conclusion that his affirmation of the TRC' findings would improve his chances of being granted amnesty?

What credence was the amnesty committee to give to an unsworn, unsigned affidavit supposedly given in a prison in which Nosenga apparently was not an inmate of on the date the affidavit was drawn up? Wouldn't the latter, at least, have been easy for the amnesty committee to verify? Had it done so?

Had the applicants for amnesty, knowing that "owning up" to participation in the massacre but withdrawing their prior allegations of police involvement, since the judge at their trial had dismissed in its entirety the allegations against the police because of the lack of corroborative evidence, even from the evidence of the residents of Boipatong or members of the households of victims, stood a better chance of being seen to be telling the full truth, on the basis of the belief that the amnesty committee would take Judge Smit's verdicts in their trial as the starting point on the path to "full disclosure?


In June 1999, at the conclusion of the Boipatong amnesty hearings – the longest the TRC had conducted, Barney Pitayana, Director of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), called for a halt to the investigations and prosecutions of those who committed human rights violations during the pre-1994 era.

Piers Pigou, a senior researcher at the Case Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) and a former TRC investigator replied to Malan – and offered made a number of observations regarding the Boipatong amnesty hearings:

With respect to the presence of a political objective, one of three prerequisites for amnesty, the objective postulated in the case of the Boipatong applicants was to attack members of Biopatong self-defence units, whom the KwaMadala hostel residents said were responsible for attacks on IFP-aligned men and women at the KwaMadala hostel. When the IFP throng who converged on the town, looking for the self-defence units (SDUs), they apparently could find none, and the attack degenerated into an all-out assault on the community. Whether this constituted sufficient grounds for show that the massacre was somehow politically motivated is a matter the Amnesty commission will have to weigh. On a number of occasions it granted amnesty in cases where political motivation appeared to fall under a very broad umbrella.

There is also the also the question of proportionality to consider – whether the results of the attack were in proportion to the objective. While the applicants painted a picture of a hostel community under siege, compelling the hostel dwellers to act in the spirit of proactive self defense. While Pigou does concede that "it is evident that a number of KwaMadala residents were targeted by Vaal self-defence units, the numbers killed reflect only a fraction of the number of murders attributed to hostel dwellers from KwaMadala. This was not the revenge of the innocent."

Whether it was or was not the "revenge of the innocents" is irrelevant. The Boipatong killers were applying for amnesty with regard to their actions in Boipatong on the night of 17 June 1992. Whether any or all of them had blood on their hands with respect to other activities they may have been a part of is not an issue. Applicants on numerous occasions were granted amnesty for specific actions and denied amnesty for others. Indeed, the fact that numerous applicants were given amnesty for specific "politically-motivated" actions, usually involving murder does not mean that they may spend the rest of their lives in prison for other actions for which they were refused amnesty or deemed to be criminal in intent.

The attack on Boipatong, Pigou also argues, was "indiscriminate and excessively brutal." He quotes one applicant, who responded to the question as to why children had to die as replying that "a snake gives birth to a snake." Hardly the expression of remorse, but then remorse was not a condition for the granting of amnesty. Indeed, in a grotesque kind of a way, it expresses the degree of hatred that existed in the Vaal between supporters of the ANC and the IFP, Xhosa-speaking people and Zulu- speaking people, township residents and hostel dwellers.

(It is interesting how the words "hostel inmates" were used in media coverage of the massacre, as if a hostel was a prison, a place where people should be locked up. The ANC's insistence that the hostels should be fence in with barbed wire only added to the feeling in the hostels that "outsiders" i.e. the ANC regarded them as something less than human; people who should be confined to a cage like an animal.(Ref.-----) Indeed, this was the perception residents of hostels had of the way in which township residents perceived them, setting up the classic "the other" equation.)

While conceding that "the attack on a community perceived as partisan to the African national Congress may provide motive," it remains unclear what the precise political motive was, apart from spreading fear and terror about the infamous hostel and its residents. The same reasoning can be used in a slightly different way: that the hostel dwellers were sending a message to the township's residents that unless they ceased to harass, intimidate, and murder members of the hostel , they could expect the hostel to respond in a manner that would not only discourage but imbue Boipatong residents, especially members of the SDUs with a sense of the scale of the retribution that would follow.

Precise political motivation, besides being almost impossible to prove, also was not the rubric guiding the deliberations of the amnesty committee. As for excessive brutality etc., the frame of reference should be the extent, wanton, random, and excessive occurring on a daily basis throughout the Vaal. Boipatong was not the only massacre that took place between 1990 and 1993, nor even the worst; its notoriety derived from the manner in which it was propagandized, the allegations of the involvement of the police, perhaps even to the level of the State President himself, and the fact that it was used as a pretext by the ANC to break-off all negotiations with the government.(Ref. Other massacres of a similar magnitude)

The attack was condemned by the IFP leadership. What would one expect? That it would say it had approved the wholesale killing of women and children, of IFP members running amuck hacking to death every living thing in their sight to death, laud the actions of a mob of blood-thirsty Zulus, frenzied beyond reason, the assertion of pre-modern warrior instincts to extinguish the enemy? And in other massacres, where members of the ANC were put in the dock, did the ANC ever come forward and admit its having authorized such incidents? Indeed, member of the leadership in Gauteng who condemned the massacre in the most harsh terms was later implicated as an accessory to the massacre itself. (Ref.Themba Khosa)

The facts are both more simple and more complex. On the simple side is that both the IFP and the ANC had lost control over what was happening at the grassroots, especially in the Vaal Triangle and KwaZulu/Natal. (Ref. John Kane-Berman) There were no leadership structures from whom they took orders. Massacres were sporadic, chaotic, random, more often the spontaneous reaction of one group or the other to prior events, more retributive than meticulously planned as part of a wider political operation; more cyclical than one-offs. Rather than their being political leadership to deter the pervasive violence threatening to turn the Vaal into an inferno of death, political leadership on all sides used the violence to further their political agendas. On the complex side is the nature and imperatives of the violence; its organic content. Proportionality is not a matter of arithmetic, but of perceived threat. Lack of proportionality is a tool for deterrence. And cultural norms regarding the role of violence in defending one's "territory" from "invasion" also played its part. But perhaps, most importantly, the campaign to make the townships ungovernable had been spectacularly successful in some parts of the country, the rule of law – bad law, one must admit -- had been abandoned, and in the vacuum the rule of raw force became the instrument of political power –and social status. Raw force, intimidation, and coercion had become staples of township life; their enforcement made easier by their being justified as being essential to the struggle, to the overthrow of the apartheid government.

As regards "full disclosure," Pigou suggests that the failure of the applicants to implicate others or to provide the names of those who were part of the leadership structure within the hostel made their "testimony appear contrived to limit disclosures." Disclosure, in the circumstances, would , of course, have been tantamount to a self-imposed sentence of death.

Pigou concludes that "the issue of police complicity is pivotal to the amnesty decision." He admits that all the applicants, save Nosenga, denied that the police were present or involved in the attack'. In acknowledging that the TRC's final report found that the police were directly involved, this finding, he admits was made "largely based on existing information and statements to its human rights violations committee." Moreover, "No further investigation was conducted by the commission. The amnesty committee's own investigation focused on Nosenga's and were largely inconclusive.

It would appear that because Davidson was implicated in the "watershed" Goldstone report of March 1994 (Ref.---), [what was he implicated in} and was a "former long-time member of the Natal Midlands security police and a close associate of Basie Smit,(Ref.___) his "investigation was tailored to disprove the allegations [of police involvement in the massacre]" and as a result "within a couple of weeks he claimed that the allegations were false."

"Judge Richard Goldstone," he asserts "was largely dependent on Davidson's investigation and , on that basis, he deferred "judgment," without mention being made "that the investigations ( both Waddington's and Davidson's?) were inadequate and biased." (Ref. Piers Pigou, Mail and Guardian, Africa News 30 July 1999)

And the trial? Pigou makes no mention of it. Again, no mention that police collusion at any level was not proved; indeed, that Judge Smit completely exonerated the SAP of wrongdoing. But that the TRC without any investigation whatsoever finds "evidence " of police involvement at every level without ever having conducted an investigation into the matter.


Where to turn to? Since the police had been at the epicenter of the allegations , I turned first turned to the two officers most intimately involved with the various investigations that followed – General Johan van der Merwe,(JM), the Commissioner of Police at the time of the massacre and Inspector Christo Davison (CD), who had been entrusted with the task of investigating the police's internal investigation into the massacre including the role the police themselves may have played.

How, I asked them did they view the findings of the TRC that the police were at the center of gravity of what amounted to a conspiracy between them and the Inkatha hostel dwellers in setting up and carrying out the massacre.?

CD. You know what was strange to me was that prior to the finding of the Commission there was a criminal trial. I testified on two occasions in that trial, and Judge Smit found that there was no evidence whatsoever of any Police or Defence Force involvement in the massacre. Despite that the Commission brought out their report which totally ignored the criminal ? followed there --which I think were very thorough. After their report came out, [whose?] before the hearing into Boipatong,[whose?] hearing was completed, because the Commission Report came out in 1998, and then in 1999 – almost a year after the report[whose?] came out, an Advocate who was acting for the Defence Force contacted me and asked me whether I was willing to assist them in compiling a submission for the Commission, outlining the role of the Defence Force and the allegation of Defence Force involvement. [ If the commission's findings had already been published , why the continuing investigation by the commission into allegations of SADF involvement (in what?], I said by all means I'll do it, but I said to him if you look at Defence Force involvement, you must look at Police involvement although he was not acting for the Police.

. We combined the Police involvement and the Defence Force involvement in the submission and we handed it in at the Commission hearing in Vereeniging, actually at Vanderbijlpark. I was there. The Advocate, Mr Carlo de Sola(?) said, 'Well OK, here's the submission of Director Davidson. You can have a look at it, he will be here tomorrow if you want to cross-question him. We included all the facts,[about what?], we didn't play around with words, it was plain facts. The Commission nor any of the other parties did not ask me one single question on it. Nothing. They just accepted it as it was. I don't know what they are going to do with it but they didn't ask me one question. If one looks at it then they must accept it as the truth otherwise if they have any doubts, or grounds for dispute, they would have cross-questioned me. They didn't cross-question me -- one single word. I didn't even go into the box. Prejudice on their [the commission's?] was in the extreme in this case [ what case?], but we can talk about it. I've got a lot of documents on Boipatong. I've got submissions, a lot of documents.

JVM. Perhaps I can just add, were you present the day [what day?] at the KwaMadala Hostel, Chris?

CD. He was present. [who?]

JVM. About 120 of the residents of KwaMadala hostel were the main culprits in this whole thing – I think they were the only culprits. In any case they were part of the KwaMadala Hostel and you know there were negotiations between our members in Johannesburg and Themba Khoza [ what is the status of Khosa in all this]and the other one, the other Induna from the hostel [who?] as well. They were negotiating in an effort to see whether it would be possible for us to get hold of the accused persons [who had accused the 120?] because there's no way that one can go into that hostel. I think the number of inhabitants, the occupants, was more or less about 400 and they were all armed with assegais and shields. They were quite hostile at that stage. in the meantime after the incident we surrounded the hostel with policemen. We surrounded them and we declared it an unrest place in terms of the emergency regulations to give us those powers to keep them in the hostel.

. We enclosed them there with the authority of the Minister but then there was no way that we could go in and try to bring out the people without large bloodshed or whatever the case may be. In any case at that stage there was rather a hostile attitude from the Indunas because they said that the Police misled them, they first asked them for a certain number of accused and when they gave them [what's the sequence of events here? when did the Indunas give them?, after the negotiations?] the police came back and said we want more and the Indunas were not prepared to give any more. There was much confusion and clearly a misunderstanding.

. So I went there and I was accompanied by General Erasmus and Mr Davidson and the others and I discussed the matter with Themba Khoza. Ndlovu [which Ndlovu are we talking about?] was also there, and the Induna in charge of the hostel. I said there was clearly a misunderstanding but we want these people because we have to conduct the necessary investigations. There is no way that we can leave the matter as it is and it means that we will have to enclose them as long as it's necessary for that reason and that is not in the interests of them or us or the community. Why don't they cooperate?

. The Induna said, 'You'd better come and explain this to my people, tell the people who are here this morning'. They've got an arena, a stadium there where they were sitting at that stage, all 400 of them, armed with their assegais and their shields and so on, very hostile. I said, 'All right, I will do so'. And I go there and I tell them the whole story. I told them that we are investigating this matter, there is no way in terms of the law that we can do it otherwise we want the persons who are accused of the massacre and if they cooperate with us, the sooner we can get this whole matter over with.

. We had a list of all the names but unfortunately these names did not entail the normal names by which they were known in the hostel. So after I've explained the whole situation to them they were still quite hostile but the Induna said, 'Where are the names?" I gave him the names and he looked at the names and he said, 'No, there's no way that they [who] can identify the people in terms of those names. [couldn't the Indunas have done so?] You will have to go back to the list which I think their employers keep where the names by which they are known are recorded. They [who?] want those names. The Induna in charge said they [who? --the Indunas or the hostel dwellers] will co-operate but with the understanding that we end the enclosement now, take away our people that they would bring us the people tomorrow morning. I think about 120. Obviously, you see we were quite in doubt at this stage because if we take away our people it is possible that they may flee and we will never see them again. I know General Erasmus said, 'General, we can't do it.' I said, 'Well there is no other way. I know one thing for a fact and that is those Indunas have always kept their word in the past. [Indunas in the hostel or Indunas in general?]

CD. Especially the Zulus.

JVM. Especially the Zulus. There is no other way we could do it, if they promise you something they will do it. I said to them, 'All right I will do that, I will take away my men with the understanding that you bring us these 120 persons tomorrow morning to the Police Station. That's an agreement.' So I said to my men to withdraw. I went back to my office, I phoned the Minister – Hernus Kriel -- and he almost blew his top. He said 'How the hell could you have done that? I've ordered the enclosement, how can you withdraw your men without my permission?'

. I said, 'Well there was no other option, either I trust this Induna and I take this chance or otherwise there is bloodshed. It's one or the other.' The next morning they brought us all 120 accused to the Police Station.

CD. I was there [at KwaMadala?] that morning with a big truck. I said to the Induna, 'OK …' and they brought them.

POM. It must have been a very big truck to fit 120 people!

CD. We did three trips with them. I was there with all the operations at the hostel. I was there the first time we went in and they surrounded us, myself and another chap Niels Langenhoven, he was a Brigadier at that stage. The people surrounded us with their mob sticks and assegais and as General van der Merwe said, they were hostile and we said to them, 'Listen, you must just understand one thing', because I can speak a little Zulu but we had an interpreter also. I said, 'You must just understand one thing. We are here to do our job and no matter whether you kill us or not there are a lot of our people outside and if needs be, they will come in and we will finish you all here but we will do our job here. We just stood there. With my bit of knowledge of Zulu, [or Zulu culture?] the moment you do that, you face them and say, 'Right, OK, come on', then they stood back and they calmed down. It was a very sticky situation. I've got a lot of documents on Boipatong and I can give you the whole story from the beginning to the end. We apprehended all the main culprits. It was something like, I'm talking under correction, after about 60hours; we apprehended all the male culprits that are now in jail.

. At that stage almost 200 were accused. We reduced the 2oo to about 120 and then down to something like 85 and then to I think 42 were eventually charged and 17 were found guilty in the end. But they were the culprits, finished and klaar, they and they alone. And the reason for the massacre? They said theywas they were being harassed by the ANC members in Boipatong: they couldn't go into the township to visit their families, because the KwaMadala Hostel was sort of a refuge camp for IFP members who were being harassed by ANC people, because they harassed each other across the line. IFP members withdrew to the KwaMadala Hostel, if they wanted to go into Boipatong in the evening, there were sort of guard posts, the ANC people burning tyres and that and if you stop there with a motor car, if you're an IFP man you either get beaten or you get killed or your car gets burnt out. All the IFP members who had houses in Boipatong had their houses burnt down, and two days before this incident two IFP houses were burnt in Boipatong and those people just got fed up with the situation and said, right, let's go and sort them out. My opinion is they wanted to go and sort out these people at the guard posts because they were the people who were actually harassing and intimidating the other residents. But it was very cold that night and that Vanderbijlpark area in winter is really cold, so when they went in there they didn't find the people at the guard posts so they went into their houses. They sorted them out.

. That was the story. And the main thing why the Police were accused of involvement is there was total chaos when this happened. People were running around after their houses were attacked. You had a bit of light but not very much light in the township and you had a lot of smoke hanging because you had these high lampposts and the smoke was hanging below the lights, between the lights and the houses so you didn't have the visibility there. The first Police vehicle was in the township about ten minutes after the first reports came out.

. At that stage, most of the attackers were already back in the hostel, because it was only a short distance away. So when these people came to their senses and they saw what was going on, police vehicles were there, the police vehicles that were attending to the reports and attending to the injured and that, a Casspir and a Nyala(?), Schlebush (?) and – what was the other chap?

. I had another incident that I investigated in Cape Town previously, [which one is he talking about?] and it was exactly the same. When these people came to their senses they saw the police there. I think that is where the first accusations came of police involvement because the first vehicles they saw in this mayhem and chaos were Police vehicles and that is why they said that the police were involved. And my personal opinion is that the same thing happened in Boipatong.

. I treated every accusation of Police involvement or security force involvement as an investigation on its own and we found it all to be false. So we can talk a lot about Boipatong, there are a lot of stories about it. I've got a lot of documents. I can give you some of my submissions.

. But many remained unconvinced, even among liberation movement supporters who were not members of the ANC. Consider, for example, what Rev. Colin Jones, Dean of St. George's Cathedral had to say: We were discussing the widely held belief in liberation movement circles – and many other circles as well, and dogma in the ANC -- that the government was pursuing a dual strategy: negotiate with the ANC on the one hand, and use violence to undermine it, on the other:

POM . You had the Goldstone Commission coming out and saying there's no direct evidence of state complicity in the violence, and trying to place all the questions of violence in the larger context of apartheid. But he also singled out the Inkatha/ANC political dispute as being one of the major contributors towards the violence. I find that the ANC will not acknowledge at all that it has any responsibility for any part of the violence. It puts the entire blame either on the shoulders of Inkatha, either Inkatha acting alone or in concert with elements of the security forces. Do you it is removing itself from responsibility for any part of the violence and that if it continue to do that, if it continues to say 'It's Inkatha and it's the state, it's not us', that it will make a resolution of the violence more difficult?

CJ. I think that there's a problem on the ANC side which exists because I don't think the intention of policy is one to actually create and instigate violence. I don't think that's an official policy, whereas some of us in the church and elsewhere would say it is very clearly part of the state's strategy to keep it going at least.

. I would be very surprised if any Commission looking into it would directly implicate the state. The way in which the state has operated has been through subversive, covert actions and that's the way most governments operate. They're not going to leave evidence all over the place. I have actually seen with my own eyes balaclavaed guys [how do you know that they were policemen?]sitting in taxis, policemen sitting in taxis in Nyanga at the bus terminus during the taxi war last year. I've seen it and there are plenty of independent monitors who will have signed affidavits which have been produced and given to the police. I've got no doubt about state complicity, absolutely no doubt. One might not have cold, hard evidence and so on. But I've no doubt about it, that it is going on, and one day it will come out in the wash. It's also very clear to me, and from our monitoring in the Natal area, that the Boipatong massacre - the massacre that couldn't be covered up -- is a very real indication of state involvement, and that its policy on the part of Buthelezi to coerce and intimidate, beat these fellows into submission. I think on the whole though that the ANC doesn't have such a policy. It happens, and there may well be people in the ANC who are doing it anyway for whatever reason, but on the whole it's not quite the same thing. What the ANC cannot, however, do is say because it's not our policy therefore we can't accept responsibility. That's not on. They have to accept responsibility for the lack of control.

POM. Do you see the ANC as being unwilling so far to accept that responsibility in a real and tangible way?

CJ. I think it would help it a great deal if somebody was able to say 'Look we have a problem here and this is our problem. It's not our policy to do it but it's happening and we will do our best to nail it down and stop whatever violence is emanating from our side.' But to go away and say 'Look it's not us, it's them' is not helpful. Someone needs to act with some integrity and courage here. The state's not going to do it, that's very clear. Inkatha's not going to do it, Buthelezi can't. It's not in his nature or personality to do it. And if anyone is wanting to maintain the high ground here, or regain the high ground, the first one to say that it's us and we're sorry and we're going to do something about it, is going to come out with the most credibility. At the moment none of those can actually say it will say it because of the possible political consequences. The ANC has an added problem in that its got the young lions who are frustrated. They are angry with the way in which the ANC has bargained away most of its chips already and has not produced anything.


In The Truth about the Truth Commission, Dr. Anthea Jeffries writes about Boipatong.

The TRC fails [she says] to explain how it reconciled its views that Police investigations were biased in favour of the IFP with the fact that 17 residents of a hostel that primarily housed supporters of the IFP were successfully prosecuted for murder, nor does the TRC explain its rejection of the conclusions reached by both Dr Waddington, Justice Goldstone and Judge Smit … that the Police had not been involved in the killings. It also failed to explain that the reasons for discounting Judge Smit's findings that the erasure of the ISU tapes and destruction of the eight shells had been the result of incompetence rather than anything sinister. It makes no mention of the ANC's apparent instructions to residents not to co-operate with the Police as the likelihood of this would have increased the difficulty of mounting a proper investigation. It gives no reason why the untested allegations put before should have prevailed over the conclusions of the trial before court. Those conclusions furthermore had been based on the fact that three accomplices and some 120 residents of Boipatong had all testified that the Police had not played any part in the attack. Moreover, the witnesses who had alleged the opposite had been shown under cross-examination to be unreliable and dishonest. According to Mr Jean Kelberg(?) a Swedish policeman serving with the TRC, the Commission conducted no real investigation of the massacre. It found no new witnesses and elicited no novel or compelling testimony to cast fresh light on the killings. The TRC seems to have its evidence virtually verbatim from a report by the Human Rights Commission which was compiled within a few weeks of the massacre at most and before the allegations against the Police had been put to any test. It also ignored attacks on IFP supporters that it seems had immediately preceded the massacre.

How, I ask Mary Burton(MB), one of the TRC's commissioners, has the TRC responded to her book's withering critique of the manner in which the TRC carried out its investigations into incidences of violence like Boipatong?

She says that as far as she knows there hasn't been a public response or if there has , she hasn't seen it. The TRC's Research Department had discussed with Archbishop Tutu whether to respond and as far as she knew there had been no official response.

Does she think, in light of the serious doubts her book casts on many of the TRC's findings that the TRC ought to respond?

"I'm not sure that it would be useful," she replies, "among the difficulties in doing so is that there is no longer a TRC that can come together as a Commission and discuss the issues raised and formulate a reply."

And why wouldn't it be useful? Because Dr Jeffrey's report, she says "comes from a very different approach to telling the story of what happened. The TRC didn't ever claim to be an academic research document."

But there's a difference between a story and the truth? Yes, Burton answers, there is a difference between a story and a truth. But be that as it may, she doesn't want to comment on Boipatong without re-familiarising herself with the records. That said, she thinks it's quite possible,[that we overlooked evidence?] especially if the investigator says that we didn't look at the later evidence that had come forward -- that's a problem. But the trouble, is that the Commission never had the capacity to really cast a huge sweep over everything that there was. There may be mistakes in the report, there may be things that have been overlooked..

But Jeffries is making a larger point. The TRC was given the task of ascertaining the truth of what happened between 1960 and 1994, of producing a report that was "factual, comprehensive, even-handed, and fully contextualized." Instead it produced a report that is which findings of accountability for matters as serious as murder are based on untested, uncorroborated, and a lot of hearsay evidence, and that instead of investigating and establishing what might be regarded as the hard facts or the truth, however you want to define that, it relied mainly on the stories of people, on narrative, on untested allegations of what people said but was in the end uncorroborated and there may have been a certain critical mass of this kind of evidence after which the TRC concluded that critical mass constitutes evidence of truth, but it would also have been selective evidence from individuals who came forward.


Possibly. I think one of the problems was that not everybody did come forward, not everybody made their information available and that may have skewed some of the information. For me one of the important things is that those personal narratives have served to counter-balance some of the prevailing truths such as those that came from investigations that were carried out previously which were often done very soon after which also provided one version of the truth and I think the only thing that the Commission was able to do in some of those cases was provide some different stories.

We continue:

But doesn't lead to a rather obvious question: what kind of truth were you looking for and the point, I would say to me an important point given the two theories about what the violence may have been induced by, either the third force theory of elements in the security forces with the approval benign or whatever of their superiors acting in collusion with the IFP to foment the violence on the one hand, so that's a security related government engendered explanation of why the violence occurred versus the people's war theory where you had a situation of supporters of the ANC getting Police collaborators, informers and necklacings, puppets of the government, whomever, retaliations by families perhaps, by supporters of the IFP, and that, and I've heard this since I've come here into the country in 1989 particularly among Zulus, that vengeance is built into their culture and that a murder done to one of their own is avenged and that the cycle of revenge killings goes on and sometimes one can trace a killing now back to an origin of almost 100 years ago if one went through it in detail. I recall Rian Malan in My Traitor's Heart recalling a trial which he attended where the original cause for the murder lay some 80 or 90 years back. Jeffries proposition would be that that side of the coin was never looked at.

MB. I would not agree that it was never looked at and I would not agree that the two theories are incompatible. I think it is perfectly possible to acknowledge that there are definitely some actions by the agents of the state to fuel anger, to contribute to the violence in that way, planting weapons and a variety of different stories –

POM. But the anger would have already have existed. What they were doing is they were stoking it.

MB. Yes. That's why I find this argument so difficult because I find some of Dr Jeffries work extremely useful, she's a meticulous researcher, but it's from one point of view always.

POM. When you say one point of view you mean?

MB. It is arguing that the majority, perhaps, or if one is putting these two possible arguments in opposition to one another her argument would be that the major cause of the violence was pre-existing divisions exacerbated by the actions of the liberation movements.

. I think that Dr Jeffries makes very valid points, the Commission did not investigate with meticulous attention every single case that came before us and it is possible that Boipatong is one where we didn't make use of later information. I would need to check that to be absolutely confident of that.

POM. I suppose the point in rebuttal would be that despite that, the Commission made some very specific conclusions regarding the origins and the perpetrators of certain incidents of violence which she would say … So I suppose her point would be that perhaps the Commission is correct but that it should have couched the language of its conclusions in a different way that didn't suggest that this is the truth about this incident, period. That this is a version found under these conditions which should be further investigated or further looked into because there are discrepancies between it and other investigations that have been carried out which we have been unable to reconcile. I suppose it's the point of the failure to reconcile different accounts, to give reason of why the Commission would choose A over B is more important than maybe the conclusion itself.

MB. So what do want me to say, yes that's right, that's what Dr Jeffries says, or that's what you say?

POM. No I'm not saying that Dr Jeffries is right at all. I'm saying that if I were in the position of being a Commissioner and I said I found on the one hand here there are four reports that have been carried out, at least three out of the four by impartial international independent commissions had found under rigorous investigation, rigorous forensic investigation, that the Police were not involved in this particular incident. On the other hand here we have allegations by a number of people that the Police were involved. We accept version B, we don't accept version A. What we do not do, and I would say that's fine if you accept version B, now please explain to me why you choose to discount these three reports and to pick the fourth? I'm not saying you didn't make the right choice, I'm asking you why did you make one choice over the other? Do you know what I'm getting at?

MB. Yes I know what you're getting at but I think it is expecting the Commission to have done something different from what it did and I think that's why you have the comments like the ones Kane-Berman makes in his introduction to Jeffries book ("The Commission went so far as to re-define the meaning of truth and indeed to denigrate the very notion of 'factual and objective truth. An inventive 'narrative', 'dialogue', 'healing truths' tacitly admitting that the truth it told was something other than factual. Distortion also arises from what the TRC left out of its account. It failed adequately to probe the revolutionary activities the counter-revolution was supposedly designed to overcome.") There is a great unevenness in the Commission's report. On the one hand there is this broad sweep of trying to tell different versions of the truth and on the other hand there are findings that look and sound like legal findings that are based on properly constructed arguments where a choice has been made between version A and version B.

. The reality is that in many of the findings we didn't do that. The Commission as a commission was not presented with version A and version B, it was presented with a proposed finding that had been made by people who had worked on the investigation and made a finding and as Dr Jeffries has pointed out some of them had not taken into consideration all the facts, probably because all the facts were not placed before them.

POM. Would the Commissioners not have said that's fine, I've looked at your findings in this regard but I don't see any mention in your findings as to why you discounted the findings of other investigations, why you found them inadequate, why you find them not credible, why you found them this, why you found them that. You just presented me with a set of conclusions based on "your own investigation"?

MB. Well the Commissioners who were particularly knowledgeable of one area or another would pose questions to the investigating team, for example in the Western Cape, if we were presented with a finding in connection with some incident, I would be in a position to say, 'now have you taken into consideration this or that, I'm not satisfied with the wording of the finding here,' I am familiar with the Western Cape and its history,

. But not every Commissioner was knowledgeable about every particular incident and have the capacity to ask those questions and to call up all the evidence, as if we were conducting a trial where you have opposing versions being contested before the Commission. For example, one of the aspects that is raised in the report is the question of the deaths of members of the Police Force over a long period of time and the Institute of Race Relations used to, and maybe still does, keep accurate records. It is one of the things that it's very famous for, it's statistical information. It used to keep records of the number of Police who were killed in active service or in conditions which suggested they might have been targets of assassination and so on.

. I remember pleading with our investigators to look up some of these statistics but it was early on decided in the life of the Commission that we would work from the basis of people coming forward to make statements to us…. we decided at an early stage that we would NOT? use research documentation to corroborate statements that were made to us. We didn't have the capacity to go out and survey all the information that was available at any particular time.

. Wyland Malan, another commissioner – the only commissioner who attached a dissenting statement to the TRC's report is simply dismissive of the TRC as a fact-finding body:

. I have no ownership in the report whatsoever because I disagreed with the approach. The Commission cannot claim ownership for itself of its report because it was written by researchers with some input of a few Commissioners. I don't think you will find any Commissioners who would say they co-owned the report. They will say, "well, we've signed it" but they had our signatures up front some eight months before publication of the report, when it wasn't yet written, before the first chapter was even written. The first part of the report to be printed was the signatures. It wasn't the last part, it was the first. I don't want to defend that. I haven't read the report yet. I've had an opportunity of reading some drafts, not all of them. I haven't read any chapter as it stands at the moment in the report and I have no intention of doing so because I don't think it makes any contribution as a report, as a document of historical value or scientific value. I don't believe it's there as a whole.

(Interview with Wyland Malan 5 December 1999)


Whose truth ?

Gertrude Mzizi, is an impassioned spokesperson for the IFP in Tokoza, a township south of Johannesburg, which, during the early nineties was at civil war with itself, pitting the IFP residents of ??? hostel Khumalo Road against the ANC aligned residents of the township and the adjacent ANC squatter settlement in Phola Park.

POM. When the massacre happened at Boipatong, do you think the IFP was unfairly blamed for that and damned in a way that's - ?

GM. Yes, the IFP was unfairly blamed in that massacre because if you look at KwaMadala Hostel and Slovo Park and the new squatter camp,(which one?), KwaMadala Hostel is totally out of sight. I don't understand how did they knew those people were from that hostel. To date no one has ever given the Commission the evidence that the people were from KwaMadala. They just say they saw a group of people marching towards the direction of KwaMadala, which is really a surprise. We feel very bad about it because the world is now opening up it's ears and eyes to that thing whereas at Crossroads our people were killed by people who were identified to be people from Mandela squatter camp, Holomisa squatter camp and Khotalo(?) Hostel [all ANC strongholds]and those people were not arrested even though some of them were people who were known to the victims.

POM. So what do you think happened at Boipatong?

GM. I don't know because there are too many parties in this violence. There are too many parties concerned. There are too many groups. We are waiting for the Court to judge because you can't say KwaMadala people did it until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

. There was a deadlock in CODESA 2 between the ANC and the government. That's where the breakdown occurred. The massacre of Boipatong didn't cause the ANC to pull out of CODESA, because if ANC didn't want to see people die, if they were so concerned with the violence, they could have long pulled out of CODESA when the Crossroads massacre occurred. Crossroads was one of the worst massacres. The Boipatong massacre is just a scapegoat. The ANC is only interested in street politics.

POM. Do you think the ANC wanted to get out of CODESA?

GM. Yes because they had failed to get what they wanted. They just wanted to get out of it, and they were lucky that massacre at Boipatong happened, and they used it as a scapegoat.

POM. When you say they failed - they failed to get their way is it?

GM. Yes they failed to get away with it, with everything in CODESA. As I told you before CODESA is a forum for negotiations not a forum for demands. You can't say you are going to negotiate and then come with demands, not proposals. You must come with a proposal and I come with my proposal and we compromise because in negotiations you give and take. So they didn't want to give, they just wanted to take.

POM. Do you think they are going to get back to the negotiating table.

GM. They've got no other way. This is only the madness of street politics. They will have to because if they don't want to go back it means they will have to go back to the bush and fight, that which they have never done because they went to Angola where they prepared themselves to fight for Angolan government. They fought UNITA, they fought FAPLA, all these things. They have never fought the South African government. Instead they only fight the Kwa-Zulu government and the supporters of IFP.

. She also talks about the UN taking the ANC's side in coming to investigate Boipatong.

Interview with Gertrude Mzizi (GM): August 1992

Kathrada is one of Mandela's closest confidants. He along with Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, and Mandela were the first to be sent to Robben Island in 1964, after they were found guilty of treason at the Rivonia trial in 1964.. In 1995, the four of them were taken off the Island and were sent to Pollsmoor Prison, where they put on a separate floor, occupied shared common quarters, and were kept well away from the other prisoners on the floors beneath and above them who had been jailed for crimes that had nothing to do with politics.

AK. I haven't got the documents before me now but we have said when we withdrew from CODESA that it was acts of omission and commission on the part of the government and the security forces that were responsible for us having continued violence. Boipatong was one example. I mean there's evidence being given right at present by various witnesses who have indicated that the Police were warned beforehand and they failed to take action. As I say, since I haven't got the documents before me, is that we have got sufficient evidence or quite considerable evidence of similar failures to act on the part of the Police, and also evidence where Police have been present and not only refused or failed to act but in some instances witnesses have said that they actually assisted the attackers.

. What the mass action has shown and what Boipatong has shown is that if and when we do get back to the negotiating table we go there only after we are satisfied that there is a firm commitment on the part of the regime to the major demands that we are making, namely the Constituent Assembly, the interim government and ending the violence.

. This break was coming. It wasn't as sudden as all that. What eventually precipitated it of course was Boipatong, but the regime's attitude in the working groups already – for us we insist that the question of the percentages was a symptom of deeper disagreements,. The real disagreement was on the lack of commitment on the part of the government to the democratic process. Their proposals on the Constituent Assembly and so forth were not consistent with the democratic process. So it wasn't as sudden as all that. Of course to the outside public at large it may have come as sudden. That's because the media weren't all that familiar with what was happening in the various working groups. If the government remained intransigent on these issues, even if Boipatong had not happened, there was going to be a break. We would have been obliged to walk out of CODESA. Boipatong, of course, was the final straw because violence had always been on the agenda and their failure to do anything to curb the violence.

POM. Why would Boipatong have been in the government's interest? The government was accused afterwards of having been involved in it.

AK. What has happened, of course, is that we have laid at the doors of the government so many of the massacres. Apart from some editorials in the media and some noises from the international community nobody has taken this seriously and the government has just carried on and on and on, ignoring this violence, ignoring the marches and whatever else we have indulged in to focus attention on the seriousness of the violence. They just carry on as if nothing is happening. Their stock reply is 'Give us the evidence'. That has been their stock reply in spite of the fact that we have provided considerable evidence. They are never satisfied. They appoint Police to investigate the Police. Cases that have gone to the Supreme Court. In the end the Judges had to say that the State did not provide the evidence, which we think is deliberate. The State Prosecutors are white, the Judges are white and we think that they had all the opportunity to provide evidence, particularly in the two massacres at Jeppe Station and in Sebokeng where there was sufficient evidence if they were serious about prosecuting these people. They arrest Inkatha people, in some cases they let them out on R200 bail, in some cases R1000-00 bail [??] and eventually they either withdraw the cases against the bulk of them or the Courts discharge them because of lack of evidence. Boipatong happened, and again we had warned them beforehand and we must say that the anger of the people at Boipatong and surrounding are, as in other townships, had reached a pitch which we hadn't seen in recent months.

. Boipatong was the last straw. We just could not go on any longer.

(Interview with Ahmed Kathrada – August 1992)

What is perhaps, most illuminating about Kathrada's observations is the fact they would suggest that the ANC had already reached a prior decision to break off the talks, but couldn't find the opportune moment to do so.( endnote: see pages----) Before the ANC would engage further with the government, it would have to prove its bone fides that it was negotiating in good faith. To show that it was it would have to meet certain conditions before talks could be resumed, including steps to bring the violence under control.

Boipatong provided the most cogent pretext for taking that step, and enabled the ANC to brush off accusations that they had brought the CODESA process to an end; indeed, its campaign to vilify the NP government, but particularly de Klerk, as being the masterminds behind the massacre was fundamental to its strategy. Now it was possible to give the enemy a human face. It is much easier to mobilize people against an enemy with whom they can establish a relationship or with whom they already have a relationship than against nebulous abstractions like the "Third Force," an enemy with which the masses had no sense of identification, thus reducing the odds that they would respond to incitements to take to the streets – the sine qua non for successful mass mobilization, the real purpose of which was to put the fear if God into the souls of whites, especially those who had already conditioned themselves to believe that even if there was an ANC government, the real levers of power would continue to be in the hands of whites.

Boipatong, of course, also allowed the ANC to seize the moral high ground and to put the government on the defensive. There is a certain irony to the fact that a government, recognized across the continent as being the most superior and ruthlessly efficient on every count in Africa was in the end so easily outmaneuvered in a strategic sense when it had to negotiate. Not being used to negotiating or compromising, it had little sense of strategic thinking in matters that did not have some military connotation. Not being able to summons the wide spread of knifelike skills that are the tools of the seasoned negotiator, it found itself having to face down veterans in the art, who had cut their teeth in the brutal give-and -take that was the hallmark of the confrontations between Black unions and white businesses, once PW Botha made the fateful decision to allow Blacks to form trade unions, thus giving them the right to strike in 19??

Indeed, many observers of the South African political drama that unfolded in the eighties regard PW Botha's decision to allow Blacks to organize themselves into unions as the first nick on the wrist of Afrikaner hegemony. In time the nicks would accumulate and become sharper and deeper until the other- inflicted became the self-inflicted, and what began as a droplet of blood became a trickle, and the trickle led to a hemorrhaging that could only be triaged by conceding what they had arrogantly vowed never to concede to the huge population of Blacks whose sheer numbers alone made the perpetuation of a white -run state with all power concentrated in white hands not only unfeasible, but untenable and ultimately impossible. For all their posturing regarding the first World they had fashioned in the furthest reaches of Africa, whites made a mess of their arithmetic. With their numbers fast approaching the point where they could not generate the manpower to maintain the state apparatus and keep the exploding Black population in check. In short when a group which dominates another begins to lose its capacity to unilaterally impose its will, it's only a matter of time before its hegemonic control collapses in the face of the inevitable.

The assassination of Chris Hani the following April and the ANC's response to it simply consolidated its standing , not only among the masses, but also among many skeptical whites . In this regard, it should be said that the ANC never quite came clean on the reasons why the violence was pervasive or even on its own contribution to it. It did not, for example, go public with what it knew – and could do little about : that the leadership were well aware that it had lost control of MK cadres on the ground (see interview with Richard Goldstone, July 1992) – and was powerless to do anything about it. It condemned as racist anyone who ascribed to the obvious – that a lot, perhaps most of the violence was Black-on Black, and that a lot of it, particularly on the Reef had an ethnic component – the ANC being perceived in Inkatha eyes as being primarily a Xhosa organization while Inkatha was in the eyes of ANC supporters a Zulu organization. (The conflict in Zwa Zulu/Natal was, of course, different. There, Zulu fought Zulu in a struggle for political dominance. Urban Zulus sided for the most part with the ANC, rural Zulus, whose adherence to traditional values remained steadfast sided with Inkatha.)

Alan Hendrickse – July 1992

AH. The climate of political intolerance, criminal elements, that is of course a factor certainly, single sex hostels, ANC/IFP conflict, government's failure to take sufficient steps, carrying of dangerous weapons, denunciation of unproved allegations. Dr Waddington who came from England, said in his report, and the government made propaganda of it, he said 'No evidence produced that the South African Police was directly involved.' And they put that on TV. Here was an independent investigator. But on analysis what is he saying? He has no proof that they have been directly involved. Which doesn't prove one way or the other that they weren't indirectly involved.

POM. But the report was scathing in its indictment of the Police.

AH. That's right, but he didn't say that. I'm just looking at another one here. And also their propagandizing of the question of the Security Council decision to send Vance here. It gave the public a completely wrong impression of what Vance has come to do. At first they didn't want him here. They (the government?) didn't want anybody from the United Nations and now of course they welcome him, but he's come you see as far as they (the government?) are concerned, not to look at the question of violence. His main duty as far as they(the government?) are concerned is to get negotiations back on track. But it was the question of the examination of violence which was important to get them (the government?) back on track and looking at this independent survey that was done – it's very lengthy but I will leave that with you.

. According to this report (what report is he talking about and where can I get hold of it?) by this firm in a memorandum dealing with attempts to prevent the Boipatong massacre this is what they say: "The Boipatong massacre could have been pre-empted if the South African Police, the ISCOR management and the Goldstone Commission had acted immediately and effectively on receipt of the numerous representations made to them about the Kwa-Madala Hostel and the danger it constitutes for the communities of Boipatong, Sharpeville and Sebokeng, and the South African Police have been negligent in failing to conduct the respective investigations after countless reports to them by the Vaal Council of Churches on ongoing abductions, kidnappings, rape, assaults, intimidation and murders connected to the Kwa-Madala Hostel."

(interview with Allan Hendrickes, July 1992 and report he quotes from)

Barney Desai – July 1992

BD. We [the PAC] were in Boipatong on the day of FW's visit, we were mobbed as heroes.

. And we were part of that group of people who in fact chased him out of the place. Feelings were running very high and the ANC had to do something about it and that's why they're not back [at CODESA] earlier. The soft line chaps are not back because of other events, but they're waiting for things to cool down. The government says, the regime says we're waiting for this mass action to play itself out and then these guys will come back. This is the way they [the government?] think.

POM . Would you have the same reaction to the Waddington Report on Boipatong, saying that the Police were not involved but they were grossly incompetent, the Police force behaved like - ?

BD. I would, as a legal man, like to know what evidence was put before him and by whom. He doesn't come in here with an independent investigation team. He has to rely on the South African Police to tell him that they are not involved.

Eugene Louw – August 1992

EL. Let me give you my personal opinion. My personal opinion is that the ANC, and I want to blame them directly, the ANC has been instigating basically all this violence, been doing it very, very carefully. They've been getting Black people, factionists, to become dissatisfied with whatever may be taking place in a particular township. Black people have been fighting among and against each other. If the Police do not go in they are being blamed for not going in. The moment they are there they are being blamed for being there. What they should do with the Police who must go in -- and one has to try and stop the fighting and bloodshed and they can't act. It's been ridiculous. The same applies to the Defence Force who have always been in support of the Police in this connection. So they are blaming the Police and the armed forces for the bloodshed which took place in Boipatong. Boipatong was Blacks fighting Blacks, faction fights.

POM. Now when you say the ANC is the agent mostly responsible for the violence, how does violence help the ANC? How does violence further its cause?

EL. It furthers their cause because there's a radical element within the midst of the ANC and the radical element would like to make South Africa unstable, and the best manner to create instability is to orchestrate disorder among your people. If you can get disorderly behaviour among your people, if you can get absolute chaos among your people, if you can bring your townships to rack and ruin and chaos as far as management is concerned then naturally you do cause a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainly is normally the forerunner to revolution.

Frank Chikane – August 1992

FC. I don't believe that as long as the government is failing to deal with the violence we will be to stop the violence in any form and the Boipatong example is critical. You have people massacred, such a massacre during the night and it takes 16 hours before they do a follow-up operation. Most people say 'those people went to this building to kill or lead us away' and the police take 16 hours to respond, and that indicates the unwillingness to resolve problems. If the legal arm doesn't, you can't solve the violence.,

POM. Just on Boipatong, I can understand it if you presented the violence to me in the scenario of what the government is doing is negotiating on the one hand and destabilising the ANC on the other and weakening them. That I can understand, it's rational. But how would the government have stood to gain from the massacre at Boipatong at all?

FC. No, no, what I am saying is, I'm not saying I have not said that the government ...

POM. Just that the Police didn't respond.

FC. I'm saying when the legal arm of the state fails to do the normal thing that a Police Force does then you can't stop all these elements that get into the fray because then you need your own army to do it. I felt like, that day, if I had my own unit I would go and fight those people. You would go whilst they still have blood in their clothes and everything else. You go straight there. You surround the hostel. They have done it before. They fought a very gallant war here. They dealt with us very effectively. They were sophisticated and they got their results, but when it doesn't suit them they have no interest in doing it and then of course the tapes get wiped off as well.

POM. If you look at the Waddington Report, you see the portrayal of a Police Force that you would think is the grossest most incompetent, unaccountable, and woefully commanded force in the world and you contrast that against the activities of the Police Force in the seventies and eighties when they were notorious around the world for their efficiency and thoroughness and ability to -

FC. Let me tell you, I was sitting in a Police Station in Soweto in chains, in leg irons, in a Captain's office and they were monitoring an ANC young man who was going to cross in Mafikeng and the radios were ringing and they were monitoring and I listened to all that and they caught him. They were so efficient - I could see the operation and I can't believe that so many, 200, 300 people go and murder people and it takes 16 hours before they actually do a follow-up operation. You make sure the evidence is destroyed so that by the time you go to Court you can't prove the case because you, as the Police must present the case, the State case as they call it, and you lose the case and then you say well there was no evidence. And so I am saying that it is not inefficiency, there can be inefficiency now because they are demoralised, they don't like what's happening, and so they are a different force than the one that was fighting at that particular time. They have no interest in making sure there's peace and therefore no movement at all. I gave them information. We got information and that is with the Police and the Commissioner of Police and the Minister that after Boipatong, that weekend after Boipatong there was going to be an attack in Soweto, that a meeting was held in ... Hostel, a person who attended that meeting was worried that his relatives stayed in the area where they were going to destroy, so he wakes up and goes to the relative and says 'Please during the weekend get out that place because you're dead.' I wrote a note, fax quickly to the Minister of Police, Commissioner of Police, and say 'Here's the information.' Then a Police man calls me in Soweto and says to me 'Can you give me the name of the person who gave the information?' I said 'No I can't give you the name because I don't know who amongst you is involved in that meeting.' And he said 'How do I find out whether this information is right or wrong?' Then I said to him, 'You would use your Intelligence to get into that hostel and find out whether there was a meeting on this particular day, what actually happened, who was involved, etc., etc. You've done that intelligence with us I can't see why you can't do that.' They might be recording what we are saying now. It's so efficient when it comes to those people they don't agree with and nothing has happened. The difference is that the attack didn't happen because then they knew we were monitoring that particular event and we had already set up mechanisms to address that particular event. So what I'm saying is that if they act willingness, whereas if they got just the teeniest information there was a guerrilla in ??? they would have surrounded the whole area and blockaded everybody, searched every house to find one single person and they have done it before.

FC. Take the example of visiting Boiptatong. Twenty minutes before Mr de Klerk moves into Boipatong they check, Intelligence check and they say it's OK he can go in. And I believe anybody doing proper intelligence should have realized that de Klerk would never be allowed to get into that place. It's either they misled him to lead him into that situation so that he feels it himself, and, of course, had an occasion to shoot people for no particular reason. I believe the intelligence they get - business also began to believe that that mass action wasn't going to happen. I also almost believed it because every commentator was saying that mass action won't happen, the ANC is going to mess itself up. And they were expecting that they would mess themselves so much badly that they would come running into the negotiation table and that hasn't happened. So I'm not sure about the information they operate on any more.

Gavin Woods – July 1992

GW. Prominent journalists who had always been favourable to the ANC turned against them for the first time and attacked the ANC, like Patrick Lawrence, Beckett and even the Boipatong issue which the ANC tried to exploit in our opinion, for the first time they were not allowed to get away with it and these journalists said 'Hey, no! You're exploiting a tragedy and you've created a response which wasn't forthcoming for two massacres in the previous month where it happened to Inkatha guys, so we don't believe that is acceptable any longer.'

POM. And then they make this extraordinary offer which seems to ... virtually handing ... a veto. Then along comes Boipatong, the way for the ANC to ... symbolic catalyst, to pull together the -

GW. Unfortunately Boipatong comes after the decision for mass action. They talk about mass action and mass action revolves around issues, and they had, fortunately for them, put violence in there as an issue. So as soon as Boipatong came along they sent violence to the top, said that this is our number one issue. If the government chooses to stop violence they can, our people are being killed. So all of a sudden the negotiating issues which initially were more real were pushed down the agenda because Boipatong presented that opportunity.

Arthur Konigkramer – July 1992

POM. Where does Boipatong fit into all of this? …..

AK. Well I think first of all, as I said right at the beginning, the ANC and its allies were already planning to pull out of CODESA long before that deadlock arrived. Now you ask specifically what brought Mandela to that change and I would say to you that Boipatong was a terrible and despicable incident but certainly it wasn't an incident which justified calling off negotiations. What happened is it was seized on by the hard liners in the ANC and Mandela was put into a position where, as I say, I don't think he's master of his own destiny any more. Those are the real backgrounds. But, for example, why was there no outcry one month before at Crossroads? 30 IFP people were murdered. It wasn't even mentioned in the international press. Now would that have justified the IFP mounting the barricades and saying "We will never negotiate again because of this despicable murder of our people by ANC people", and they were ANC people that murdered them. It didn't happen. But you see, let me make an observation with regard to Boipatong, what the ANC – and this is one of its problems – apart from the hard liners within it it's actually living in the past. It sought to internationalise Boipatong as it did Sharpeville. Now the world has changed. The Soviet Union has gone, that whole power bloc has gone. It's not possible to go and make the sort of noise as they did in the 1960's with Sharpeville and get away with it any more. It doesn't work that way. They thought that exactly the same they would go there and Mandela personally and the ANC took very, very serious steps to block the other participants from speaking, using India and Zimbabwe to try and achieve their goal. The protested at Buthelezi's presence and all the other CODESA people. What they wanted to achieve was to internationalise it and to pillory the State President and Buthelezi in the United Nations and pin it all on them. It went sour. They didn't realise that the world has changed, that it's not quite that easy any more, that in fact they are more even handed. As I said to you, Boutros Ghali, I think to his great credit, was actually even handed and said "No ways, we're not going to have a situation where one side is given the opportunity to attack the other and the others don't have a chance to respond."

POM. So you would have seen, looking at what happened at the UN, looking at it both in terms of real politick and also its symbolism that the ANC was the loser here?

AK. Absolutely. They were the loser.

Clive Derby-Lewis – July 1992

CDL. OK but what did the resolution really say and what was the question before the UN? The question was how to end the violence. For them to turn around and say, OK when they knew that the Zulus were responsible for Boipatong, they knew that the ANC had been responsible for numerous killings of IFP people, for them to turn around then and say the government are guilty of perpetrating the violence, what is their action further then? If they do that they already eliminate any sort of co-operation from the government's point of view in terms of ending the violence. So it was really a wishy-washy thing and I don't think that very much can be read into that.

Eugene Terre'Blanche – August 1992

ET. He (de Klerk) walked away from Ventersdorp over the dead bodies of three of his own people, three Boer blokes in the streets. Nine months after that he went to Boipatong and the Police officers warned him not to go in there, but he went in there. He walked away over the bodies of three Black men. That man walked over six bodies by pure blipping stupidity. It was not necessary. What did he create when he visited Ventersdorp? Bugger all except the death of people and a hell of a lot of policemen wounded and a lot of AWB's wounded. What did he create in Boipatong? Nothing. Policemen wounded, three Blacks dead. And then people think he's a statesman. That's the poorest statesman ever known, my good friend.

Fatima Meer – July 1992

FM. When CODESA deadlocked, the ANC didn't pull out of the talks altogether. That's also an indication of the strength of the Nationalist Party, that they didn't initially pull out of the talks. It took Boipatong for the ANC to pull out of the talks. It was a very major crisis outside of the negotiation table.

. Boipatong finished him(de Klerk) as far as his image. I think up to Boipatong – had you gone there just two days before Boipatong the image which of de Klerk you had would have found would still have been in place. When he went there --I don't know who advised him to go to Boipatong -- but the way in which he did, with all those army units backing him up, he didn't go there like a person who was going to go and mourn.

POM. What were the particular circumstances in Boipatong that worked against him?

FM. Boipatong itself. The fact that these people were massacred. The fact that there was ample evidence that the attackers came from this hostel, ample evidence. And the people themselves said, and this was published widely, that they people this attack and went and reported to the Police about the attack, and yet the attack was allowed to go on for what was it? Almost a day before any Police protection came into play. All this, and then of course the Trust Feed and other Commissions' findings that the government was implicated, the Inkathagate situation.

. All this was building up to diminish the authority or the credibility of de Klerk in the eyes of the township residents. But up to that point they could still say, well maybe he didn't know. He's a good man, he's got bad men around him. But the way in which he went to mourn in that township and the way in which he behaved when he had been expelled, that was a very bad exercise in public relations, destroyed his credibility.

Ferdi Hartzenberg - August 1992

POM. Who would you say is responsible for Boipatong?

FH. I really don't know what happened there but it is as a result of the clash between the ANC and the rest of the people. That is the reason for it. I don't really know who was responsible for it. It involved the hostels and normally the hostel is a place where the Inkatha people are living and the squatter camps are the strongholds of the ANC. So I don't know what the position there was, but of course there was provocation. At least there must have been provocation.

POM. By the ANC?

FH. Oh yes. Because if the ANC was not there then there would not have been a massacre.

Desmond Tutu – July 1992

DT . You know myself, Frank Chikane , ands some others went to see the ANC on Tuesday, [?? Days after the massacre], the day when the ANC was going to announce that it was going to break-off talks with the government. We went to see the ANC National Executive meeting in Kempton Park and we had lunch with the proceedings and it was quite clear that the song that was sung in Boipatong had hit Mr Nelson Mandela very hard. He kept coming back to the fact that when he went they were singing; that they were the lambs and they were being killed and that the ANC was doing nothing about it. He said that as they were walking round Boipatong that song kept being sung and when he got up to speak 20,000 people just got up and they sang that song for quite a while. It was quite clear that he'd been hit in the solar plexus by it.

. He needs to be very careful that he is not seen to be a pushover. I think that he is naturally someone who has this dignity and this determination but once, I think if he is upset, then he gets a determination in the other direction. He's a very accommodating person but maybe like many who take a long time to get angry, when he does get angry it's very difficult to move him.

. I must say I am quite amazed at many of these young people. I was at the funeral in Boipatong and there's no doubt at all that the level of anger has increased very considerably. Maybe it's going to be a traumatic day for me, the day they repudiate me, because you see I get up there. One, I'm able to make them laugh at a time of very deep sadness, and they are laughing, in part they are actually laughing at themselves. We are all laughing at ourselves and we laugh and we say, yes the situation is horrible and yet it is not so horrible that we cannot be human beings and we cannot say we'll take a handle on this life. And I say to them 'Are you ashamed of being Black?' That area is largely ANC but to shout a slogan that is almost PACish or AZAPOish, you get them actually responding as people who do have a dream. One must not idealize them, but when you can get them at a time such as that to be able to say we know we are going to be free, Black and white together, is almost in a way unthinkable. It is almost bizarre to think that it can happen.

Dullah Omar – July 1992

DO. I think Boipatong was very much a catalyst, but that phenomenon had been building up. The ANC and Mandela in particular had hoped that despite the setback at CODESA - and he made it clear in the press conference after CODESA 2 that the break was serious, the deadlock was serious -- he did put on his best face at CODESA in the hope that the parties could continue talking and that he could persuade parties to come to terms with the realities of the situation. But it became clear that the destabilization process was so serious that greater attempts would have to be made to put an end to it, and that in fact the regime, we came to the conclusion, was using the CODESA process in order to buy time and in order to alter the balance of forces in its favor.

POM. You say alter the balance of forces in its favor, you mean ?

DO. Inside and outside the country. In other words, breaking out of international isolation in so far as the international world is concerned, getting rid of sanctions, but not coming to any agreement in the meanwhile even though you go through the motions of negotiating. Inside the country, destabilizing the ANC, trying to win more support for himself.

POM. Among Blacks?

DO. Among the population generally. Strengthening his own position, weakening the position of the ANC and then seeking to impose a solution through CODESA or elsewhere on the basis of a weak ANC. So that I think has been our reading of the situation and the Boipatong massacre just made it impossible to continue. By that time also, I think it is fair to say people on the ground had lost all confidence in CODESA. In our branches, in every region, in COSATU, and in the Black community generally, there was a feeling that CODESA was just a waste of time. CODESA had de-legitimized itself to some extent by the way it was operating the meetings. Meetings were taking place behind closed doors, they were the Working Groups, but the media was not allowed to be present so that there was no direct reporting of what was happening inside CODESA, what parties were saying. To the general public, CODESA was meeting in secret and generally amongst the Black population there was a loss of confidence in CODESA so that by the time CODESA 2 took place and the position of the government became clear, I think the Black population in general had lost confidence in CODESA to such an extent that it required very little to get people to say that CODESA is wasting its time. What people had noticed over a period of time was that here you people are talking, you are meeting at CODESA, there are pictures on TV, you people are drinking tea together, laughing and smiling with each other, shaking hands with each other, in the meanwhile our people are being killed in the country. This contradiction in the minds of people became more and more intolerable and when Boipatong took place I think it was just the last straw. Even if the leadership wanted to continue in CODESA our constituencies would never have allowed it.

POM. You had these tensions within the ANC, that you've mentioned, do you think that Boipatong kind of allowed the ANC to pull itself together, to pull the fractious elements in its constituency back into the fold. There was a new militancy, mass mobilization re-involved the people in the process?

DO. No, not at all. In fact the program of mass action was planned long before Boipatong. The plan for mass action was evolved immediately after CODESA 2, and even if Boipatong had not taken place the ANC would have continued its program of mass action. So mass action itself had nothing to do with Boipatong even though Boipatong gave it greater impetus. We adopted the program of mass action at our Policy Conference at the end of May. COSATU had adopted the program some time before this. The mass action campaign was something that had already been planned and it did not come as a result of Boipatong.

Ebbe Dommisse – July 1992

ED. Well I think it's clear that the Boipatong massacre really put the government back and after that the mass action campaign started. Mass action was planned, of course, months ago in case of the ANC losing touch with the grassroots and so on.

ED. As you know Inkatha is accused of fuelling some of the revenge attacks like Boipatong. I think there's an element of truth in that. I don't think Buthelezi can control on the ground what's happening among his Inkatha members. There are also the Police, I think there are still AWB, Ystergarde elements, they haven't been weeded out. With all these elements how could the Police ... ?

ED. Ramaphosa became very militant and actually accused de Klerk of being a murderer in Boipatong. That was way over the top for somebody supposedly sophisticated and modernised and what not. He went way beyond what I thought was prudent for a politician in his position.

George Irvine – August 1992

GI. Boipatong was the right time. It wasn't the major massacre of the country. Boipatong was used by the ANC as a strategic move to bring to the world's attention the fact that they could not proceed with CODESA any longer because the government wasn't taking seriously its role for peacekeeping and doing away with violence. I am amazed at de Klerk going in to visit Boipatong, weren't you? He really ought to have known it wouldn't have been acceptable there.

Gerrit Viljoen – August 1992

POM. I have been told that among many Blacks in the townships Mr de Klerk is held in high regard -

GV. Also in Boipatong, I might say.

POM. Is that right?

GV. Well the motor car drive into Boipatong that Saturday morning which almost ended in disaster was, except for an organised group at the entrance to the town, which was clearly hostile, the rest, the people on the sidewalks and along the streets and in the houses were waving very friendly and when they recognised President de Klerk, they became quite excited, clapping their hands and reacting in a positive way. But the resistance there had been quite clearly organised. I think the Police hadn't done a proper job of assessing it. I was disappointed in that situation.

. So, in brackets as it were, my answer to you, I think that the popularity of de Klerk in the townships is there, even in a place like Boipatong.

POM. Denigrating him like this is a way of trying to demonise him?

GV. That's right. Break down his power and the National Party's power through him in that respect.

Beyers Naudé – August 1992

BN. Boipatong was the culmination of all that pent-up anger and frustration on the part of the people and Boipatong was in that sense a final turning point in the whole history of the process of democratization and negotiation between the government and de Klerk. When Nelson Mandela went to sympathise with the people of Boipatong he was met by young people singing in their own made songs saying, 'You are leading us like lambs to the slaughter.'

. And equally de Klerk when he went to Boipatong he was confronted by the tremendous anger on the part of the thousands of the people of Boipatong. The Security Police say that this was an organized situation of protest and violence against de Klerk. That's absolute nonsense. I was in Boipatong regularly and anybody who knew anything about what had happened could have told de Klerk beforehand 'Don't be such a fool as to go into Boipatong now'. Why did his security leaders not pick that up when all of us knew that to go in at that point in time was going to create a massive situation of resentment and bitterness on the part of the people?

POM. Why didn't they pick it up?

BN. I don't know. ...

POM. Is it because they are so out of touch with the situation or because they didn't mind seeing de Klerk embarrassed?

BN. I don't know. It may have been that some of them wanted him to go there to experience that kind of embarrassment, because they don't in any case support his reforms.

Govan Mbeki – August 1992

GM. I wonder if today, after Boipatong, and what happened after de Klerk had been to Boipatong and driven out of Boipatong by the residents of that place, what the Police did the moment he turned his back. I wonder what those in Europe thought. I was in Europe in May, and I realised to what extent he had got the governments there to accept that he was a wonderful man who was doing wonderful things in South Africa, but I wonder after these two events [ The Bisho massacre, see>>>] what they still think of him.

Harry Gwala – January 1993

HG. Well, I am not in a position to say how much the government is genuine on these matters. I am aware the ANC is very genuine in the matter. But my problem here is that things that happened before these negotiations took place are still happening. Let me make one observation before I proceed, on the question of Boipatong. I don't think that Boipatong was the real issue because we have had thousands of Boipatongs, worse ones than this. Boipatong was one of those things that added to an exacerbated situation. But fundamentally people were beginning to realize that the government was digging in, becoming more adamant and that the only way out was to intensify the mass action.

Jac Buchner – JULY 1992

JB. I think first of all you must look at the word 'accountability' before we go to Waddington's report. The word 'accountability' – the Police are accountable. The South African Police they are accountable first of all to the Commissioner and then to the Minister who is then accountable to the Cabinet. So they are an accountable force. A lot of people have been using this word 'accountability'. Secondly, Waddington, again not to detract from Waddington, I know Frank Waddington quite well. He attended another conference and that's where he and Goldstone met each other. The conference was arranged by Lawyers for Human Rights, the Legal Resources Centre and a few other people and he is a very knowledgeable person. Having said that, Dr Waddington comes to South Africa and he brings with him two policemen.

. Now I spoke to one policeman on my last trip to Europe who was an expert on scenes of murder and in his career he has attended eight murder cases – in his career. He's an expert. I would say that in the Soweto area, if you're a murder and robbery detective, a murder detective on scenes of crime, you would attend to 30 murder cases a month. Now if you have a murder where Waddington comes from you would have 10 or 20 scenes-of-crime policemen sifting around looking for evidence. You will not have 1000 people toyi-toying or dancing around the streets, trying first of all to get hold of the police and secondly, irrespective of the scene of the crime, destroying all the evidence that there is.

. I read Waddington's report, and I think we must look at Waddington's Report in two senses. You must first of all look at the positive side and then there's a very negative side. On the negative side I know that the SAP has already looked at it and they have already taken steps to rectify the shortcomings he brought to their attention. It was necessary for Waddington's Report to point out certain things, and maybe we do not do things according to international standards. Our results are the same but our methods might not the same.

. But the first thing that I feel that Frank (sic) brought out is that the Police were not involved in the massacre at Boipatong. When Boipatong was opened up to the world, it was said that it was members of Koevoet that were responsible, that the government was responsible, that the South African Police were responsible and, of course, that de Klerk was responsible for Boipatong.

. To look at the thing in perspective, and if you look through the first few pages of Waddington's Report, he doesn't criticise the acts or the attitudes of Schlebush (?) and Kruger, the two Sergeants that were driving the two vehicles,[which vehicles is he talking about?] There is a criticism about a lack of overlapping while there's a change of duty at 10 o'clock at night. That's criticism, but there's no criticism of the action of the two units that were operating, patrolling in bullet proof vehicles. They were on the spot, there were actually four vehicles and two of them were busy investigating one scene and nothing, in his own words "…nothing untoward was happening at that stage', according to everybody. Even when they found the bodies.

. But there was a very definite and a very serious shortcoming in the scenes-of-crime members that attended. That was the first problem. And the second thing is that the duty officer, Captain Lewis, did not come to the scene. He wasn't there. This is where your command falls flat. Because he was not informed – he was only informed of two bodies being found. Later on, I think they found another eleven bodies during the night. But he was only informed of two and he thought it was two bodies, but because of the situation here in our South Africa, if you discover two bodies in an unrest area at night it's not something that you phone the Commissioner about at night and wake him up from his bed. The duty officer takes note of it and he says 'Have you taken the necessary patrols?' and they say 'Yes, we are patrolling at the moment.' But there is a shortcoming and that is being rectified now.

. There's also quite a few things, and I must say that the SAP have taken the Waddington Report and they have analyzed it word for word and they've taken very positive steps already. I actually have a meeting tomorrow with my senior officers tomorrow where we are going to discuss the Waddington Report in absolute detail and see where the Kwa-Zulu Police falls flat. Have we got a contingency plan? Have we got a command and control structure? Have we got scenes-of-crime experts available should we have, as Waddington says, 'What if? If this happens are we ready for it?' It's a hard hitting report.

. I look at the positive side first and at what he brought out there. He did not find fault with the youngsters who were actually doing the ground patrol. He found fault with the overlapping of changeovers, he found fault with the command structure itself. The command structure did not react because they were not informed. The command structure is there and it was available and it is available on a 24 hour basis.

. Our internal stabilisation force, they've got a complete structure, and this thing is now being looked into to make sure it doesn't happen again. I can guarantee you that the SAP has taken note of every word and they are going to react. What Waddington says about our being isolated for too long is true, and that we have not kept up with investigative methods, not methods, so much as attitudes towards investigations as far as the western world is concerned.

. But you can imagine yourself taking over 39 different scenes-of-crime in one evening or one morning? For the whole of the Free State, you have twenty scenes-of-crime personnel. It's not an excuse, it's something that must be taken into account. The safeguarding of scenes of crime, that's another very important aspect. But it is difficult when you find a body and the locals are up in arms, they are threatening you -- they actually sometimes fire shots, and stuff like that -- to now go and put your cordon around the crime scene and say 'Nobody goes through this tape over here because this is now a scene of crime.'

POM. So did Boipatong come at the right time for the ANC?

JB. A thing like Boipatong will always be at the right time for the ANC because they can now go and shout murder and shout 'de Klerk you're a murderer' and 'Buthelezi you're a murderer' and everybody else in South Africa 'You are murderers'.

Jakes Gerwel – September 1992

JG. As regards the collapse at CODESA, the ANC wasn't responsible for that. It was saved from that in spite of itself. But Boipatong touched a really raw nerve. It's Sharpeville, it's Soweto -- it's that kind of litany within which Boipatong came. The decision to break off talks was taken quite unanimously I was told. I serve on the Regional Executive Committee of the ANC here [Western Cape], and from the report that we got from National Executive Committee members it was clear that there was no hard liner or soft liner divide in taking that decision to suspend the talks with the government and the demands and the way that they were framed was also in a way to make it possible for the government to address them and for talks and negotiations to resume. So again I'm not a political member in that sense of the political party, I'm much more there as a kind of a social, educational component o that.

. I really had the sense that the demands were drawn up around matters that were, as Cyril Ramaphosa said, 'do-able' ones. They were not intended to be demands to stave off negotiations for ever. In fact the organisation committed itself to negotiations. My sense was not that Boipatong was being used by factions within the ANC -- there was really a genuine abhorrence at that -- but in the sense that……… negotiations couldn't take place unless a number of issues, which had been on the agenda previously, had to be addressed.

. … A comparison has been made between the mass action on the part of the ANC and the referendum on the part of the de Klerk government and I think the government has got that message. That march in Pretoria and some of the other marches were really massively successful. I must quite frankly say I doubted the capacity of the movement to pull that off because people had not been responding to calls for mass action and mass mobilisation since 1990, but the breakdown of the talks and Boipatong had again ignited that energy into mass action. Yes I think it was massively successful in sending a message to the government. It [who?] will obviously deal with that in its propaganda. One's got to understand that too.

Jenny de Tolly – July 1992

JDT. If one wants to look at it cynically, Boipatong happened at the right time. It was a pretty large scale massacre but it wasn't the only and there have been a number prior. It certainly galvanised people in the most extraordinary fashion. it galvanised everyone. I found it very fascinating that they had a church service here in St. George's Cathedral that was attended by as broad a spectrum of people as I have seen including, the Jewish Board of Deputies, which is certainly the first time I've ever seen that.

POM. What do you think accounts for that extraordinary reaction to Boipatong when less than 2 months before that you had the massacre of Crossroads [ see page…] where 30 people were killed, where women and children were killed. If you do a comparative analysis of the circumstances they were broadly similar and yet there was no public comment, no church services. The Tutus and the Frank Chikanes of the world were silent. Was there an element of brilliant orchestration about, exploited isn't the word, but was the event manipulated brilliantly for political purposes?

JDT. I haven't thought that hard about it but I would say that's quite likely. Yes, why that more than any others? Yes. I really haven't analysed it very deeply because you know we've gone on putting out our statements every time that any of these things happen and we certainly didn't set the world on fire the way Boipatong did. There must have been an element of extremely good use of a situation. The ANC has not been known for that before, particularly, so maybe they're learning from the Nats.

. … They said that it was not only anti-white, which the Boipatong funeral indicated as well, but it's actually anti-stranger, so that they as whites wouldn't go into those townships themselves; that in fact it's dangerous for somebody who's not recognised to go into those townships as well. …[what is she referring to here]

. Well it's very hard to grasp but it's obviously something that people in a position that are not engaged in the war can more easily take. Those of our members (Black Sash) who were part of Police action and went into the townships had some of the most appalling reports from people in Boipatong of Police not doing their duty. Now this is one of the things we have always contended: that there were elements in the State that were definitely fuelling the violence. Certainly in terms of our monitors in Cape Town, the one thing they said they could specifically say is that they never had absolute evidence of complicity. Although there were certain people who were known to have committed acts that they could actually trace, the thing that they said quite emphatically is that the Police do not do their duty in protecting one element against the other, and that they (the monitors) believe to be complicity.

Jeremy Cronin – July 1992

JC. I think de Klerk blew it seriously around Boipatong. He blew it, in my view, somewhat at CODESA 2, but we also let him slip off the hook.. We did blow it a little bit, too, I think, through the ANC, but de Klerk blew it more seriously over Boipatong because his game plan then was: OK, we're deadlocked and we'll do what we've fairly successfully done over the previous two years and that is that we pose ourselves as being the reasonable ones, the ones that are anxious to get back to negotiations and so forth, and it's the ANC and their allies with their campaign of mass action that are stalling, that are not serious about negotiations, that are rocking the boat. De Klerk was out of the country, in Japan, in the week before we launched our campaign of mass action on June 16th, and journalists on the trip with him were saying, "you guys are going to get really hammered, he's got a plan, you're going to come out really bloodied from your mass action."

POM. Journalists were telling you this?

JC. Yes, and he was more or less saying that as well. He said, "don't worry, we'll handle it, we've got a plan, and so on." And the plan was played, if you like, the five cards in the plan were played out around Boipatong, but all too transparently.

POM. They were?

JC. Well one, you go to Ulundi. On June 16th we launch our campaign. June 16th of course is a very emotional day. De Klerk chooses to go to Ulundi for only the second time in recent history, possibly only the second time ever. The last time he went was last year, and two days later there was a very similar massacre in Swanieville. Some twenty odd people were killed in very similar circumstances - hostel dwellers marches on a squatter camp, were escorted in and out by the Police and so on, and he got away with it. To this day there have been no arrests and there was no public outcry. I'm not saying de Klerk went to Ulundi and planned Boipatong. He clearly didn't. But what he did do was send a signal to every impi, every warlord, hit squad or whatever, that the hunting season is on again. On June 17th the predictable happened: Boipatong.

. On June 18th the South African Police blamed the ANC's campaign of mass action for Boipatong, that's the third card if you like. [Do I have a reference to this?] Well the third card really was allowing Black on Black violence but behind the third card is the fourth card which is the special forces, the low intensity war and so forth and they clearly were involved in it [Boipatong?] in ways that we hope to prove. And the fifth card was the one that he then played on June 20th. He went into Boipatong as the moderator, tears running down his cheeks for the victims of the massacre. Sorry, also related to June 20th, it was on June 18th; at the same time that it was blaming the ANC for the massacre at Boipatong the National Party announced the launching if its recruitment campaign into Black areas. So there you had the whole game plan, but all too transparent and all too bound together in time, and just the scale of the massacre was unpalatable. But if ten people had been killed at Boipatong and if none of those ten people had been pregnant women or a nine-month old child it would have passed more or less unnoticed in my view, recorded and then - you know. And he might still pull it off. He blundered badly around that period but the game plan remains in place in my view. It's, OK, let them do their damnedest with their mass action. We will ensure that chaos ensues, that there's terrible destabilisation of townships, that there's an endless cycle of what appears to be Black-on-Black violence and at the end of the day, at the end of the campaign of mass action, people will be turning to de Klerk as a saviour, as a man of moderation and we'll get back to negotiations but more on my terms. So he may or may not have blundered at CODESA – I mean there was a tactical blunder I think at CODESA 2 and there was an even more serious blunder at Boipatong. But whether those are blunders in the medium term will have a lot to do with how we get our act together and whether we allow him to get his……… act together over this period

. De Klerk has a strategy. He's not the person who planned Boipatong but he has responsibility for Boipatong and he's not curbing his own security forces. They are definitely implicated, involved in the wave of violence.

POM. Yet the Goldstone Commission and Judge Goldstone, at least up to this point seems to have been accepted by everyone as being an impartial and fair investigator, clearly has come in and said there is no evidence linking de Klerk, his Cabinet or even highly placed security officials to the carnage in the townships?

JC. What he said was, there is no evidence to link all of those, de Klerk, Cabinet and so on, to the Boipatong massacre.

POM. But didn't he go further than just Boipatong.

JC. But, he added, and this was the message in my view that he was sending, he cannot understand why reasonable requests like the Battalion 32, Koevoet and other special forces should not be deployed on certain peace keeping missions in townships cannot be accommodated. (?). He could not understand why agreements around hostels had not been implemented by the government, etc. So if you like he was doing what we were doing a year and a half ago, he was doing a sort of third force back door out for de Klerk.. But he was also reflecting a truth and that is that we've not presented evidence around Boipatong to implicate security forces and that has to do with some inefficiencies on our part but also that witnesses are terrified of coming forward until there are witness protection programs, ones that we can feel happy with. We think we can show not Cabinet involvement but absolutely we can show security force complicity in Boipatong. Omission and commission.

JC. I think it's right, I think it is correct. [what/] I would also obviously want to do all that you did by way of saying one's not being cynical , it was an horrific event but it did have that impact. But not without problems either and that perhaps would take us to the last point in the paper that I've written and which I'll give you a copy of, [ do I have a copy of that paper?] where the song that grew up out of Boipatong was: they are killing us and the ANC is acting like a lamb. When Mandela went out there, not to the funeral, but a few days before and addressed a 20 000 strong rally there was this song which none of the leadership quite had heard before and didn't quite know what it was saying and when Mandela stood up to speak, before he was allowed to speak, several thousand people stood up and they were they were going like this --- "WE WANT GUNS!" and they sang this song. Respectfully, I mean it wasn't saying shut up we won't allow you to speak, but they were sending a very strong message which is understandable given what happened and given the frustrations and everything else. I think the big challenge is to give a purposeful strategy to that mass militancy and I think that's the big strategic challenge at present within our ranks, because if there was a kind of mass insurrection in prospect around the corner that would be great. I would have no moral or other objections to that. But it's not, unfortunately, and, therefore, one has got to understand the mood but harness it in a purposeful direction. That is the big challenge that we've got. So Boipatong has in reawakened many utopian dreams about one last shot and the walls of Jericho will come down kind of thing. I feel a lot of sympathy with the desire to see these guys just swept out of power, but it's not going to easily happen and therefore we've got to use that mass militancy but direct it, educate it, lead it and so forth. That is the big challenge we're facing.

JC . De Klerk is showing signs of regaining some of the high ground again now. Boipatong is behind him. The world quickly forgets and he's trying to position himself into the center, .the person who wants to get back as the only person capable of stemming the violence, bringing the chaos that wild mass action unleashes under control and so forth.

Kader Asmal – August 1992

KA. When Boipatong took place that was the crisis point where the ANC recognised that the government was not firmly committed to peace and order in South Africa and the post-Boipatong National Executive Committee demand was for response, a reasonable response to two areas. One, it wanted a commitment to dealing with violence, from the hostels to hit squads to investigation of complaints. The second, was how it would arrange for the constitution to be adopted and from that point of view the ANC has to have a commitment in broad terms because we don't want the constitution to be drafted by CODESA, which I think the government accepts now, although that was its original view a year ago.

. De Klerk went to Boipatong because his security contacts said 'You should go. It's very important.' And the security state here, or the national security state, shows its lack of understanding of what's happening on the ground. A typical example of national security behaviour.

. Just before Boipatong the government produced the most extraordinary propaganda material which I think you should get hold to make ventures in the Black community. You can put all these ventures up the chimney, now. [the government's proposals for trying to make inroads into the Black community,[ can I get a copy of them?] There are these fits and starts and the longer the government spins it out the easier it will be to brush them aside. Notwithstanding all the allegations of corruption, Mossgas, [note on], nobody seems to be responsible.

. But (??) the work and findings of the Goldstone Commission, I have problems with. AS a lawyer I can say that it was uncalled for for them to make a statement on Boipatong immediately and without any evidence in its support, any investigation. I remember what it said was that Cabinet Ministers and senior Police officers and senior government structures had not been involved.

POM. That's with regard to the violence in general, not Boipatong in particular, because Waddington was conducting his own investigation into -

KA. They issued a preliminary report saying that the government and Cabinet and senior Ministers were not involved. That was without prejudice to other Police elements that may be involved. I think both Waddington's and the preliminary report of the Goldstone Commission were premature, I would say, because there was no systematic presentation of evidence and why should they produce a preliminary report when they said that in fact the evidence had been presented to us. But they haven't in fact called for evidence and I think that's irregular, frankly. This is the kind of cautiousness to show an absolute even-handedness, which, in South Africa, largely means that it lets the government off the hook. So I have no problem in saying that that report was premature, it's uncalled for. This is what I believe myself. I speak as an individual and say emphatically, that we cannot rely on South African social instruments to monitor the causes of violence and monitor the government. It is not possible to do so. I can't accept that Prof. Waddington could in a matter of a few days come to the conclusion that the Police were not involved with Boipatong.. That's a prima facie position, and only a prima facie position. But you see at the end of the day the government has a monopoly of power. It's the government's job to establish, systematically establish --- and the government is under reconstruction. It's not dissimilar in that sense to the situation in Northern Ireland; the Catholics have no faith in the RUC. It's the perception of the RUC that counts. The RUC in my view is much more restructured than the SAP is, so I think it's consistent to say the ANC officially supports this, the work of the Goldstone Commission, and still say that we need the international supervision.

POM. What I don't understand is why if the government was making this attempt to break into the Black community, why would it be involved in anything like Boipatong which would only rebound to its disadvantage?

KA. Well, you can come to conclusions, like for example, that there may be elements over which de Klerk has no control. That's at the first level. Secondly, among Blacks he would be looking for support among the middle class and professional people -- not those in the townships and the squatter camps. You target, not in the military sense, you target for political support, social formations. So in the Indians there's no point in targeting the unemployed and the working class, some of the Indians, because they would be natural supporters of the ANC. You target people like my family in Natal, professional people, business people, shopkeepers, who suddenly now find that they are strong supporters of the market when the market doesn't exist for the vast majority of them, even those in business, because the market never allowed them to buy land, never allowed them to set up shops where they wanted. And the fact that these laws are repealed, the markets didn't allow them the same access to loans from the Agricultural Board or from banks for that matter. So you target these people and the Africans who were targeted would not have been the inhabitants of Swanieview or Boipatong, and it's perfectly consistent. So you can have rogue elements or elements over which de Klerk will have no control.

KA. I think at Boipatong the statement that appeared immediately after Boipatong resulted - we met 5 - 6 days after Boipatong and made a considered statement. There were about 43 speakers. Three speakers said we should break off all negotiations and the other 40 said we should suspend negotiations.[But you did break off negotiations; also see Jeremy Cronin re same vote] There was again a very mature reaction from the ANC. It would have been very easy for the ANC to have said we can't talk to this lot any more. The feeling in Boipatong -- Boipatong was the catalyst -- the feeling was very high. Now you may say, the Goldstone Commission may say, the police were not responsible for it. Anybody may say that.

. But the perception of the people on the ground is very different. For the first time the people say in South Africa, the police had actually fired on people running away from them and you should get hold of Alistair Sparks and read his article, his syndicated article, because he was there with his wife and his wife cradled one of the people who were shot. So for the first time white South Africa saw policemen with automatic weapons firing on people actually running away. We've seen it in exile because these kind of pictures were never shown in South Africa. So the perception of the army of occupation was there. So the ANC had to take that into account. In that month from May 20th or so to June, in that month there were no attempts at negotiations. While we were there the Acting State President, Pik Botha, tried on three occasions to see Mr Mandela before the NEC met and Mr Mandela said that this is a matter for the NEC to discuss rather than a bilateral. But there were no talks between the government and the ANC for that month and the ANC was trying to work out what its position should be about the interim arrangements, now that we had rejected the idea of an interim constitution and work out its position in relation to the Constituent Assembly. But Boipatong provided a cutting edge to that and there were discussions of course in that month as to how we would use pressure because negotiations are a matter of persuasion. The fact that we had the best negotiators means nothing.

Koos van der Merwe – July 1992

KVM. …the ANC took the wrong issue. They took Boipatong, adding so much salt and pepper to it as if de Klerk himself was there with a big knife that night cutting up people. It boomeranged on them. Nobody in the outside world believes that the NP is really involved there. There's a trial even today, 70 to 80 Zulus are being tried. So it was a bad reason to get out of CODESA.

POM. So you would read the current situation as one in which the ANC has misplayed its hand in withdrawing from CODESA, that it's misplayed its hand with Boipatong?

KVM. Yes, with going to the United Nations, with the strikes.

POM. I want to talk to you about Boipatong, and this whole question of the security forces and violence. I get two news clippings services from South Africa, I get News Clip and I get the South African Institute of Race Relations, I buy every periodical, listen to every news report I can. If one looks at the pattern over the last couple of years it's very hard to conclude that either by omission or by commission that elements in the security forces are not involved in some way in the violence. First of all I want to ask you, do you accept that?

KVM. I accept it.

POM. Second question then is, is it a question of de Klerk being unable to clean house because if he were to take the actions that might be required in terms of either demoting senior personnel, retiring senior personnel, that there would be backlash within the security forces against him? In other words that he's not fully in control of what the security forces can do and therefore not fully in a position to deal -

KVM. I wouldn't say that he's not fully in control. I've been present when he spoke to the Commissioner and many other people. He's in control. But maybe it's the same lack of control that any government has in the world where elements here and there are involved. And you must bear in mind that the ANC a mere 24 months ago the arch enemy. They have killed our people, bombs and so forth. We were trained to defeat them, to kill them, to annihilate them, and what is an important factor is the transition from the position where a person is your enemy to be shot on sight to becoming your brother does not happen overnight. So there may also be elements of spontaneity in this. Half a dozen policemen sitting in a Caspir, one talking about his brother who was killed by the ANC some time ago and this one says, yes, my sister was raped, and they go on talking, and then here are some ANCs and there are some Zulus and then they could spontaneously side with the Zulus or do something naughty. So a spontaneous thing as a result of us still being in the transition from enemy to brother also has a lot to do with it. But I wouldn't go so far as to say de Klerk isn't in control of the defence force because the way the defence force and the police senior people are thinking, the way they think is that our solution is to come from negotiations, and that by all means we must negotiate. I don't think it's a matter of losing control or not having control.

POM. But there is a perception in the outside world that elements of the security forces are either involved in violence, that there didn't seem to be an awful lot of Police investigative work following Boipatong.

KVM. Oh no, no, no. I'll tell you there is, in some areas of the security forces there's a paralysis. People don't want to go out and do anything any more because what they say, and this is very real, policemen tell you every day 'No I don't want to be called out, I don't want to go out there because the moment I defend my own life half a dozen Judges are upon me and I'm arrested and I have to explain for weeks. I don't want to be involved'. This you get every day. A paralysis backlash from the security forces saying there's too much control over us, too many eyes, hawks, watching us.

POM. One of two last things, Koos. One is, you went into Boipatong with Mr de Klerk, could you just describe what happened, what the experience - ?

KVM. It was a purely politically organized surprise. We went in. The police said it's all safe to go in, and de Klerk was going to get out of his car and pay respects to some of the people and he was going to walk around a little and talk with the neighbors and so forth. The police said it would be safe to do so. And then we left. We were in two cars. We were four MPs,-- de Klerk and another one and Gerrit Viljoen and me -- and when we turned into that street in Boipatong all of a sudden they were just streaming up there, 3000 of them. I got out of the car and I looked at them and there were simply mass hysterics. People gave you the impression that they're under the influence of something, dagga or drugs or alcohol. But this shouting, 'Kill him, kill him, kill him', as if they've been taught to do that. And then we left. But it wasn't spontaneous. It was definitely not spontaneous. It was a very well organized thing in a manner that the police didn't even know about it.

Lawrence Schlemmer – October 1992

LS. Boipatong gave some kind of symbolic, shall I say, credibility to this position of non-co-operation and it was at that stage that it became possible for this other viewpoint, or approach, or strategy within the ANC to assert itself which was really what is referred to here as 'the people's ANC approach'. Mass action. I've been exposed in little workshops and things like that to a fairly wide variety of middle level people within the ANC and there is a very, very clear refusal to reach any compromises on the government on pragmatic, around some sort of pragmatic approach to settlement. There are still people as short a while ago as a week and a half, there were still middle level people in the ANC who are genuinely thinking of a Leipzig kind of mobilization to bring so many people on to the streets that you overwhelm the government.

. Now this approach was very unrealistic in the weeks following Boipatong where there really was a belief that you could somehow mobilize across the country to dislodge the government. But when they actually had to try and implement mass action they realized that it was more difficult and they have scaled it down. They have retreated from that position but there are still a lot of people who believe that that position has to be held as far as possible.

. When negotiations resume, they are probably going to be tougher from the start. The polarization between the government and the ANC is going to be clearer from the start and there's going to be much more pressure on de Klerk to make concessions from the start and we're going to go through a very tough period indeed, because de Klerk's room for making concessions has also narrowed because his own support base's view of the ANC is now very much more negative than it was when CODESA started.

Louis Botha – July 1992

LB. While we're talking about Boipatong, I took the liberty of bringing one or two press cuttings for you. I can talk about Boipatong and make a long story and you're going to say to me 'I know it's your personal opinion'. Fair enough. Some of it is my personal opinion but right from the word go the ANC used Boipatong to lambaste the police. A lie was told that the police were directly involved, directly involved in that there was a Koevoet Unit involved and they were the ones that did this.

. So one must look at this.This was retold and retold and retold and I'm going to give you these two cuttings. The one is from the Sunday Times dated 21.6.92. It's headed "An Aftermath of Boipatong." The husband of one of the victims gave Sunday Times reporters two different accounts of how his wife, who was 8 months pregnant, was killed. Two total contradictions and this is one of the problems which the police face. So I'll give you this, I'm not going to read it. I give it to you. It's in the Sunday Times dated 28th --- that's 21st. 28/6 (??) with the head line "Boipatong faces a tangle of contradictions". And then people actually use these circumstances to further inflame the situation: "I didn't call for war says township priest." Now I saw him on TV and he was calling for war. Do you understand? And that's the type of thing that leads to further problems during investigation, etc., etc.

POM. Why do you think the ANC -

LB. Propaganda.

POM. - chose this particular occasion?

LB. No, they've chosen many occasions not just this - to make it seem as if that is the truth. It's far removed from the truth. If there were policemen involved there it's imperative that they be taken out and policed. When I say 'taken out' let's get our semantics right, they be removed and charged. But I'm positive that there were no policemen involved. One can criticize the investigation, yes.

Mac Maharaj – August 1993

MM. But the ground that he used for dismissing the idea [of what] became for him an area where he could learn and it gave us a gap to actually develop the scenario [what scenario?], because it is around Boipatong that we stripped his argument [what argument?]of what looked like a valid criticism by saying 'You are right, yes, we need elections and the first instrument after the election will be an interim government of national unity realized by the elections while the Constituent Assembly, elected through the same elections, writes the constitution.

. So he was trapped. I think that when he sleeps over it, this time when he is alone not with a bottle of whisky with friends, but alone really talking to himself he must say 'I learnt something there', because a commitment to dismiss the interim government by decree on the grounds that you are now using democracy as your test inevitably trapped you to develop your ideas so that you could not resent our government of national unity. Whereas his starting point was the elections must realize a power sharing government on a permanent basis.

Moses Mayekiso – July 1992

MM. Yes, the Boipatong incident also added power to the deadlock at the negotiations because with that massacre people said enough is enough, we have been enduring this violence for a long time and now we have to put our act together and regroup and we can't negotiate with people who are destroying our humanity. At the rally that we addressed at Boipatong people were directly telling us, the leadership, why are you behaving like sheep whilst people are dying. That touched Mandela and that strengthened the resolve that the deadlock had to be strengthened. Many areas have to be fixed before we can think of further negotiations, and secondly, it won't be CODESA type negotiations, it will be restructured CODESA-type negotiations. The resolve has become one issue -- majority rule. That means to move as quickly as possible towards an interim government and towards a Constituent Assembly. Whatever de Klerk's response is it should include concrete measures to curb violence that will include acceptance of the international monitoring group to monitor violence and to monitor the process of transition. So in that way, yes Boipatong has strengthened our resolve and let us pull back and re-organize ourselves.

Musa Myeni – August 1992

POM. Do you think that the ANC was able to exploit and manipulate the massacre at Boipatong?

MM. Absolutely. I would not be surprised that they engineered a lot of it. I can even tell you that when the ANC is weak in a township then they come up with a squatter camp next to that township. Then the squatter camp will mount attacks on that particular township. The same thing in Boipatong. The IFP has a very strong presence in Boipatong township. Then they came up with Joe Slovo squatter camp which is anew establishment. Then they have more support in that area.

. A few days before the highly internationalized Boipatong massacre ten houses belonging to IFP houses were destroyed in the township by attackers from the squatter camp. OK? But that did not make news because it was IFP people. I can then say they knew that the IFP from Boipatong would probably retaliate. They calculated this. What they always do also when there is an IFP march or funeral they provoke a reaction, a well calculated reaction. They make a statement beforehand, a week or two weeks before, that such and such a march by the IFP should be prohibited by government because the march will lead to more deaths.

. They know that the government will not prohibit the march, because the government allows all marches to take place. They put a few guys at strategic places, occupying houses, particularly where people are drinking socially, where there is a tavern in that particular area, where they are sure that there will be a lot of innocent people around. They plant guys to be part of those people drinking, etc. but these guys will be armed. Then they will shoot from those houses, which do not belong to them -- the attackers, they will shoot at the marching IFP.

. They know that the IFP will not run away, it doesn't run away, it fights back. So they know beforehand that the IFP will definitely fight back but in the process all the bystanders will suffer, all the onlookers will suffer because when you go to a house from which bullets came from, you don't ask who shot, you hit back at everybody in that particular house. They calculate these things. So in Boipatong they initiated an attack and they knew that the IFP people would attack back. They were already out of CODESA, but they used that incident as a pretext for their withdrawal from talks, but they were already out.

Patrick Lekota – August 1992

PL. … take Boipatong where people were slaughtered and, with a police force inside the country, nobody was arrested. [not true] Of course we had to suspend the talks, the international community could look back over a series of incidents which clearly laid out who was not playing ball. We were even giving them a chance, they said 'don't bring the international community in,' and we agreed to handle the problem together - and when they ultimately failed we had legitimate grounds to then leave the country and go to the international community and say 'we would like your community to come to South Africa because the situation has reached a crisis point. By then the NP itself could not complain because we had given them a chance. We had said they should go ahead and do it [curb the violence] and we would co-operate. We have given them that co-operation. I feel that if we didn't act earlier ... it is not as if we were not aware, but a case was building up and Boipatong was not the issue, it was the breaking point, the final catalyst. We had began to sense government reluctance and insincerity sometime earlier.

Penuell Maduna – July 1992

POM. But did Boipatong exist as a rallying point for the movement as a whole to pull itself together, to renew its purpose?

PM. No I don't think so. There was talk of mass action even before Boipatong ... We had said that we would actually launch mass action on the 16th June. Boipatong took place the following day. I want to believe that Boipatong was a reaction on the part of the government, Buthelezi and so on to the mass action. They had actually predicted -- and listen to this, at the level of the Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel -- that mass action would unleash a violent response. That was an accurate prediction. Mass action on the 16th June, we had over 17 marches ... countrywide and each one of them attracted thousands of people. The major one was here in Johannesburg, Orlando, led by Mandela. Those big marches and those big meetings did not see the breaking of even a sliver of glass and everybody said mass action itself has been absolutely quiet but it was the reaction to it that was violent and that had to be violent as per the prediction on the part of the state. And that is very interesting.

. Now Boipatong affronted a lot of people, ANC and non-ANC, South African and non-South African. I think those who were behind Boipatong underestimated the mood of the people and the mood of the world. You know you can do anything but to kill a pregnant woman, highly pregnant woman, and to kill a baby of 9 months affronts everybody who's got a conscience. It affronted everybody. It was clear that in fact Boipatong was in reaction to mass action which was very successful and very peaceful. That is why de Klerk was actually told in no uncertain terms that he was an unwelcome guest in Boipatong, when he went to shed crocodile tears there. We had to decide. We either had to continue with negotiations when it was clear to all and sundry that negotiations were not delivering, because those who were in power had taken a deliberate decision not to participate in delivering democracy in this country. We had to choose.

Saths Cooper - November 1992

SC. There have been researchers who have come up from within the own ranks of the ANC with certain findings. In the Boipatong area, no less a person than Tokyo Sexwale, the Chairman of the most powerful region of the ANC, the PWV region, and Chris Hani who is the SACP and the former head of uMkhonto weSizwe found that their members were simply ill disciplined and simply had taken the law into their own hands.

. The government allowed mass action to take place, it allowed Bisho, Boipatong, the other massacres to take place, it allowed increasing uncertainty to grow, it allowed investor confidence to evaporate, it allowed internal confidence from the population to dissipate, it weakened its own position. It just messed up. It just totally messed up so perhaps Stoffel [van der Merwe?] was the architect of that position. And perhaps Stoffel was the architect of de Klerk being humiliated when he went into one of the Reef townships and had to flee in a hurry. Perhaps those types of things caused him [who?] to find increasingly that his position was untenable.

Sheila Camerer – August 1992

POM. Let me just leap to the mass action. Did the ANC unfairly exploit Boipatong?

SC. No. How can you unfairly exploit a massacre? No, it was just awful. But I don't know if you've read the British papers? I was in Germany reading the British papers for some English news apart from the stuff that was faxed to me at the time, and there was a lot of speculation over who did it, who's done it? Could it have been the ANC, could it have been Inkatha?

POM. The ANC insists all the time that the government has a dual agenda, the olive branch of negotiations on the one hand, and on the other, destabilizing the Black community through the overt and covert actions of the security forces.

SC. Yes, that's one of their three big lies. There's no evidence of it.[what are the other two big lies?] I think there's an overwhelming impression now -- I'm quite surprised at how strongly it comes across from the people that I've spoken to -- that the ANC has certainly not got clean hands. It seems to have shifted, I felt that that my post-Boipatong experience abroad was quite interesting because I expected much more criticism of the State President and the government but it just didn't seem to be there, certainly not in the British or German papers or among people we talked to.

. There was more of a perception that the ANC was causing trouble and that the country's future looked pretty Black (sic) because the ANC wasn't going to knuckle down to negotiate a constitution. I think there is a perception that there is a lot of trouble when the ANC is electioneering. It's not as though these sort of deaths occurred before they were electioneering or roaming free in the townships.

Strini Moodley – July 1992

POM. Boipatong. Do you think the ANC alliance stole it, that they were able to manipulate it for their own purposes?

SM. I don't think manipulate it. I mean that thing happened primarily as a result of a decision by some elements of either the IFP or the Police Force or a combination of both to simply attack innocent people. I don't think the people belonged to the ANC or were ANC members. This was an attack launched on primarily innocent people.

. In the aftermath of CODESA the ANC used it for political propaganda, but, yes, well - it's in keeping with the political program of the ANC. The political program of the ANC is to take power in this country and it will exploit that kind of situation.

Sydney Mufamadi – August 1992

SM. Goldstone said was that in the wake of the Boipatong massacre, people should not make public accusations about what we were alleging regarding police involvement in the violence, because he said at that stage no evidence to that effect had been put before the Commission. Now you know that the Commission then went into the business of conducting an inquiry and he must have seen the evidence, so he was saying that it was premature at that point.

Thomas Shabalala – July 1992

TS. The ANC tried to find something that they could use to say why they are running out of CODESA. They came with this Boipatong story where the people were killed. It wasn't the first incident where the people were killed – in Boipatong. In Crossroads people were killed and in other areas people were killed. They are dying even now so the ANC just raise that question because they know that they were losing support in CODESA from the other organizations.

POM. What do you think happened at Boipatong?

TS. Well, we heard that it started by the people from that township necklacing somebody –

POM. You say the people from the township?

TS. From the township. They necklaced somebody from the hostel. Then those people saw that body, then they went to revenge, they went in.

POM. So it was a kind of a mass killing?

TS. Mass killing. They went mad.

POM. In retaliation for the necklacing?

TS. That's right, retaliation. They just went mad, started killing everyone. It was terrible. It was a terrible thing to do. But those people from the township who went and necklaced somebody from the hostel – they started the trouble.

Trevor Manuel – July 1992

TM. Nelson Mandela on a visit to Alexandra said that we needed international management and he would pursue that as a course. Subsequent to that you had hostel attacks in other parts, Meadowlands and Soweto and so on. All that coming to a head with Boipatong, a very clear example of the way in which the wishes of the people have been violated. I referred earlier to the agreement struck in April last year by the hostel. That hostel is owned by the Iron and Steel Corporation, ISCOR. It doesn't house ISCOR workers, it houses Inkatha vigilantes.

. A year ago - the Weekly Mail had come across some communication from the Defence Force to these hostel workers inviting them to report for military training. Now that is in fact completely outside the ambit of the Defence Amendment Act because Blacks are not called up for military duties. But it was probably an indication of the way in which things were happening and it just happened that this fell into the hands of the Weekly Mail.

. In the course of other investigations about the same period there were a number of instances which clearly showed the involvement of the security forces in the violence, including the fact that there were in the Vaal area -- Boipatong, Sebokeng, Evaton, Sharpeville -- secret bases from which police were launching attacks on people and all of this is well documented in the Weekly Mail.

. When the Weekly Mail were about to publish the second round of allegations of yet other bases they were stopped by a Court interdict. Now this happens notwithstanding a commitment to South Africa and the world by de Klerk in terms of the Inkathagate scandal last year saying that all covert operations of the police would cease. Now nobody has been reassured that those bases have been closed down and what you have in respect of violence is just a litany of instances building up which show very direct involvement of the security forces in violence. I'm saying it comes to a head with Boipatong. In December last year the residents of the areas had asked ISCOR to evict those residents and to demolish the hostel.

. On the night of the 17th June there is a warning to the police of an impending attack. They choose to ignore it. The police say that they went to Sebokeng, they didn't go near the hostel. The Defence Force were there. They say they saw about 200 armed men and did nothing about it. But you have in that period a very particular sequence of events.

. On the 14th June, the police raid a train carrying Inkatha members, but they do so with media fanfare. All the press were invited to this, the raid is carried off, they confiscate two truck loads of weapons including AK47s and all manner of things. On the 15th June, the weapons, and they say the non-lethal weapons - but the weapons – and bear in mind that the Goldstone Commission has asked that these weapons be banned. Judge Didcott in Natal had asked that the law prohibiting the carrying of these weapons be reintroduced -- on 15th June, these weapons are returned to the offices of the IFP. On 16th June, when the country is involved in a stayaway, a very sensitive day politically on the South African calendar, de Klerk nails his colors to the mast by visiting Ulundi for a fairly extended meeting with Chief Minister Buthelezi. And on the 17th June, you then have the Boipatong massacre. It's quite a cynical chain.

. There is evidence then that the attack came from the hostel and for 24 hours the Police do nothing about it, and in the hue and cry that followed that they then sealed off the hostel and went in and first arrested five people, and then pressure was increased and eventually a lot more people were arrested. Now it's so basic that if people have committed a crime the police must actually act to gather all the necessary evidence. I don't know too much about these things but one assumes that if I use a knife to stab you, that given enough time and enough know-how I can probably wash all the blood off that knife and leave no trace. This certainly arose in the context of Boipatong.

. But it also happens in the context where other things are beginning to fall into place. There has been a spate of massacres on trains, very few people charged. Those who were charged are then released or acquitted in the end because of insufficient information. The people caught with those weapons on the train on the 14th June, including AK47s, are released on R50-00 bail from that same KwaMadala Hostel. On 22nd August last year, there was an attack on a vigil at a funeral in Sebokeng. I forget the number of people killed but there were lots of them. Seven of those hostel residents are charged and they are acquitted because, in the words of the judge "The Police did virtually nothing to construct a case against those people". So these are the circumstances. People, especially in the PWV area, feel extremely exposed. Although you have a commitment to the establishment of self-defence units, you have continuous raids from the police on the self-defence units; they confiscate weapons and charge people and so on. Immediately after such a raid you would have an attack on that community.

Zac de Beer - July 1992

ZDB. … So the thing was moving in that direction [what direction?] and then Boipatong happened. I don't relate Boipatong in its causation to the negotiating process. I think not at all. I think Boipatong was simply anothermassacre, a particularly tragic one, in the process of violence which has been going on for years. But it arrived at a time when tempers were frayed and it simply caused the rage of the township people to boil over and it was then that ANC leadership from Mandela downwards really became abusive and went over the top, in my mind, in its attacks on the government.

. I suspect that the masses are a bit wiser than their political leaders assume. But certainly I go to things like the Boipatong funeral and I listen to the Jay Naidoos of the world and other mob orators, the Chris Hanis, even Cyril Ramaphosa when he's wound himself up, and they are all saying we will throw this man de Klerk out, we will drive him out. If he will not go voluntarily we will take to the streets and we will force him out. But none of those things can happen. So yes, there may be some disappointment but on the other hand not just in this country but elsewhere in Africa I think there's been quite a lot of evidence that the Black masses have a healthy cynicism about the chance that life's going to get better for them. They don't actually believe that it's ever going to but they like an outing. They like to go toyi-toying down the street and whether they're doing it behind a coffin or behind a banner doesn't make all that difference.

29 May 1999: Today Sam Shilowa, the ANC Gauteng candidate for premier, ia campaigning in the Vaal. Boipatong is one of his stops. I have tagged along with his campaign for the day. It is my first time back to Boipatong since 18 June 1992. The place is as squalid as ever, dirt-ridden, squalor at every turn. Little has changed, other than the violence. Now people don't talk about Inkatha or Zulu-speaking people. But they are still afraid. The fear now not of hostel dwellers or SDUs, but of the gangs that rob, and rape, and murder. Life is still not about healing. And there has been little healing since Boipatong. The world's media packed up and moved on and left system to deal with the detritus of life. They have received little attention. Once they were a rallying cry, now they are a one more cry for help – for water, electricity, for jobs, for attention of some kind.

Shilowa draws a good crowd. Up to 3,000 jam the local community hall to hear him speak. They do not need to be persuaded. They have come to enjoy the attention. They should forgive those who had slaughtered their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, their unborn children, but they must never forget, as if forgetting would ever be possible for those who had lived through that mad night.

They are the faithful, if only because their is no other church to which they can turn.

Sam is having fun. This one is easy. He reminds them of their role in history. How President Mandela pulled out of talks with the NP government after the people of Boipatong had been murdered with the connivance of the government. Mandela would have none of it. The people of Boipatong had paid dearly with their blood, but their blood had flooded the dams that help back the democratic tide, and the dams had overflowed and swept the NP out of power and given the people a government that was theirs. Today they were somebodies, not fodder for the white man's avarice. He speaks to them in Zulu, Xhosa, and Sesotho. "You will remember," he reminds them, " when then President de Klerk tried to visit Boipatong and you chased him away. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has and continues to reveal the sinister and hidden hands that planned and executed that massacre." The crowd applauds.

Lazy and unaccountable mayors and councilors would be given short shrift under a Shilowa administration. The crowd applauds.

Job creation would be his number one priority. The crowd applauds.

And criminals had better mend their ways and fast. There would be no more coddling, no more easy bail, just the clanging of cell doors. More applause.

Only once is Shilowa nonplused.

On a walking tour of the township, he steps into the home of Pauline and Johnnes Mbatha. The injuries Pauline suffered the night of the massacre has left her crippled and wheelchair bound. Johannes looks after her, but he is unemployed. They live in a shack. No water,. No electricity. No anything. Johannes asks Shilowa for help, says the government has done nothing for them, that they have even been forgotten by their local councilors.

For the Mblabas there is no New South Africa.(ref. Business Day 27 May 1999; Africa News 27 May 1999)


1 TRC Report, Vol.3, Chapter 6, par.578-598

2 Sowetan 29 June 1992

3 The Citizen 24 June 1992.

4 Rian Malan Frontiers of Freedom #20 Second Quarter 1999, SAIRR. pp.27-28

5 Extracts from ANC statement issued by to the South African Press Association (SAPA) on 18 June 1992.

6 According to Mayibuye, the ANC journal, the ANC had learned from sources within the security establishment and its own intelligence department that since February 1990 the government had been implementing a two-pronged strategy to maintain power. One prong was called Operation Thunderstorm, the other Operation Springbok.

Operation Thunderstorm, according to Mayibuye was devised by the Department of Military Intelligence was aimed at wreaking havoc in the country, and blaming the ANC for it, while portraying the government as reasonable peacemakers. The plan called for weakening the ANC physically, and create such a climate of uncertainty that Black people would accept anything that would bring an end to the violence.

The ANC, in these circumstances, would be forced to accept Operation Springbok – an entrenched coalition with the NP, and if possible, other parties. Such a government would be unable to alter the status quo. See "Fighting the Violence," Devan Pillay in Work in Progress July/August 1992 pp. 7-9

7 The Star, 19 June 1992.

8 Following the failure to reach an agreement at CODESA II, the ANC announced plans to embark on a campaign of mass action to pressurize the NP to accept its key demands. See Ebrahim Hassan The Soul of a Nation p. 133.

9 The Citizen 20 June 1992

10 Ibid. 24 June 1992

11 Ibid. 22 June 1992.

12 The Star 19 June 1992

13 Ibid.

14 Allister Sparks Tomorrow is Another Day p.141

15 For example the accounts of the massacre in the Weekly Mail in its June 19 to 25 June 1992 edition. "The savage armed invasion of Vaal township Boipatong – which left more than 40 people dead-has focused renewed attention on Iscor and its KwaMadala hostel hostel, the alleged springboard of the attack.

The timing of the massacre, on Wednesday night, also hints at a deliberate attempt to stoke violence and derail the African National Congress's mass action campaign, which got off to a remarkably peaceful start on Soweto Day this week.

Despite Boipatong residents' insistence that KwaMadala inmates were responsible, Law and Order spokesman Craig Kotze linked the massacre to the ANC campaign, stating that it had 'created a climate in which violence could easily happen.'" On June 25, the SAP in a statement said it had no evidence whatsoever that the ANC was behind the massacre.

The article also states that "One resident of a house where two men were slain said a white man, wearing a Black balaclava, was among a group 'five Zulus' who came to attack the dwelling."

In the following issue (June 26 to July2), the Weekly Mail's cover legend read "SECRET KOEVOET BASE LINKED TO BOIPATONG." The report said that "The Goldstone Commission uncovered a covert Koevet unit at a Gold Fields mine hostel after being tipped off that thr squad had been ferried into the Vaal to take part in the Boipatong massacre.

The discovery – which may corroborate information that security forces were involved in the massacre – has highly damaging implications for President FW de Klerk's government. The presence of a 'third force' on a British-owned mine will also have major international repercussions.

The ANC says it has witnesses who will testify before the commission of the unit's role in the Boipatong slaughter."

Another article in the same issue says that "The Weekly Mail has inspected statements by witnesses in Boipatong alleging that at about 10pm groups of police in Casspirs began dropping armed men at various points around the township. Then the slaughter began."

16 The Citizen 26 June 1992.

17 Malan p.31

18 City Press 21 June 1992.

19 The Star 20 June 1992

20 The Citizen 19 June 1992

21 Ibid.

22 See page ----

23 The Citizen 20 June 1992

24 FW de Klerk The Last Trek p.240-241

25 Allister Sparks op. cit. p.141. Interestingly, Sparks never questions who might have orchestrated the anti-de Klerk protest, although it had been known in advance of his visit to Boipatong that he was going to go there.

26 Ibid. pp. 241-242. According to de Klerk, he was told that one of the Afrikaner Generals in the car following his sarcastically remarked: "Now he can see what his fucking new South Africa looks like!" De Klerk op. cit. p.241. In his biography of Mandela, his biographer, Anthony Sampson repeats the anecdote. See Mandela p.454

27 The Citizen 25 June 1992

28 According to Sparks, "When the shooting had stopped there Ws an eerie silence.Cautiously I stood up to get a better view The police were still in line, down on one line in their firing positions.Ten paces away, one of them rose to his feet and began screaming in Afrikaans. 'Who told you to shoot,' he screamed at the policemen. 'I told you not to shoot without orders.' He was clearly the officer in charge, and he was in a frenzy of agitation." Op.ed. p. 144

29 See Allister Sparks pp. 141-146 for a first-hand account of the police shootings that occurred following de Klerk's forced departure.

30 Quoted by Sowetan political correspondent Themba Moleffe, Sowetan 22 June 1992

31 David Philip Nelson Mandela Speaks pp. 174-179

32 The Citizen 25 June 1992

33 Interview with Henry Tshabalala. See page ---

34 polling data?

35 Financial Mail 19 June 1992

36 Patti Waldmeir Anatomy of a Miracle p.---

37 Interview with Justice Richard Goldstone 25 July 1992.


39 The Citizen 17 June 1992

40 The results of the Markinor survey which polled 1,300 Blacks and 1,000 whites were published in the Citizen 26 June 1992.

41 See pages-----

42 See the Economist 4 July 1992 for an account of the ANC's "calculated attempt" to weaken de Klerk.

43 Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom pp. 603-604

44 See text of Mandela's speech at Boipatong. Mandela speaks pp. 174-179

45 "I wish to assure the people of South Africa that we will not rest until the perpetrators of this shocking act have been brought to justice. … I wish to express my deepest condolences with the families and the loved ones of the victims." The Citizen 19 June 1992.

46 Peace Accord

47 Malan op. cit. p. 28


49 De Klerk op. cit. p. 242

50 Report of the Inquiry into the police response to, and investigation of, events in Boipatong by Dr. PAJ Paddington submitted to the Goldstone Commission.

51 "The Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation------

52 Interview with Justice Richard Goldstone 25 July 1992

53 "A Question of Spin," Rian Malan, See excerpts from Goldstone interview on 25 July 1992 (page--), which buttress Malan's observations up to a point

54 TRC Report, Vol.3, Ch.6, par----

55 Ibid.

56 Paddington, op. cit.

In his scathing analysis of the investigation by the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) into Boipatong, Rian Malan offers his own explanation for the SAP's paralysis. They were "ordinary security force members, on foot or in soft-skinned vehicles. On the basis of experience, they feared it would be suicidal to enter a war zone without armoured protection, and, besides, their cars and vans wouldn't have made it anyway, because the streets of Boipatong had been trenched and barricaded by comrades."53 Problematical: perhaps; plausible: certainly; excusable: hardly, dereliction of duty and negligence in doing their job: definitely. Evidence that their intervention would have made any difference: none.

But the recurrent violence in Boipatong history of violence in Biopatong over the tears would at least have made them pause before acting. According to the an article published in the Weekly Mail, twenty people were killed and ten injured in nine incidents of violence linked to KwaMadala hostel between January 1991 and May 1992, prior to the Boipatong massacre.54 Before the massacre, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) submitted evidence to the Goldstone Commission to the effect that most of the violence in the Vaal emanated from KwaMadala.55

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