About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

13 Jun 1992: Mhlongo, Ben

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POM     I'll jump into the middle because you may not have much time and then when I come back I'll be able to at least know some of the things you talked about. This community seems to have escaped the violence that plagued other townships in 1990 and then at the beginning of 1991 things kind of fell apart. What happened?

BM     Well I would say since 1991 quite a lot of violence was the order of the day and it has been between members of the IFP and, let's say, people who are seen as members of the ANC. The IFP is occupying part of Alexandra which is up there, between Langman Avenue and Roosevelt and between first and fifth Avenue, that's where the stronghold is that also includes their hostel, the hostel in Alexandra, the men's hostel. So that's the first part of the things happening.

POM     So you say these are the IFP strongholds?

BM     Yes, that's more or less where most of the IFP people are. Some of these people used to be residents in houses in Alexandra but because it looked like it was a war between the Zulus and the Xhosas so most of the Zulus went out or were forced to go out of their houses. Some of the Xhosa people who used to stay up there, some of them had to move either by will or by force out of their houses. That's the major thing that happened in Alexandra which is really a setback because all along this township was sort of united.

POM     So in a sense it's now more segregated?

BM     There isn't that unity like it used to be before. Like when we speak in terms of the reprieve of Alexandra, people were united, Alexandra was supposed to be a place which has got a lot of hostels only.

POM     Did you find yourself mixed up in this, a target of the violence, or were you fearful? Tell me about how you personally reacted to that situation while it lasted?

BM     Yes, in fact I was afraid like other people but not in the sense that I would be a target, maybe because I'm a community worker and my work has got to be within the boundaries of Alexandra without any fear of going to work despite the fact that people are fighting. Since this starts we are afraid of going to work where Inkatha people are, mainly because it looks like it's only the men that they attack despite the fact that they are Zulu speaking sometimes, then you're seen as the enemy despite the fact that they are asking you questions.

POM     So one result of this is that, one, you can't any longer go in there if you need to do so, and the second thing seems to be that as a result of the violence the Xhosa speaking people left their residences and moved into the Zulu speaking area and Zulu speaking people left their residences

BM     And went to the outside.

POM     So the township is, in a way, a bit more segregated between Xhosas and Zulus?

BM     Yes, and also this brought in another thing, because I'm dealing with pensioners or senior citizens, because to get their pension every month they had to be moved away from that place because they used to get their pension at the hostel. Now they've got to go up to the Commissioner's offices which is outside Alexandra. It is a problem for them. Also it's a problem because some of the young people are taking advantage of the situation, either they became thugs in taking other people's money and so on. So all in all this fighting has caused some outside effects.

POM     And these effects are really the community lacks the cohesiveness that it had before. What age are you?

BM     I'm 37.

POM     You're 37? You don't look it.

BM     I was born in 1965. I'm 37. I don't look it. My birthday is coming up now.

POM     I want to go back to establishing a benchmark when Mandela was released in February 1990 and the great euphoria and hope there was at that time that change would be rapid and broad. Two years have gone by, are conditions here in Alexandra better, worse or just the same as they were two years ago?

BM     Well in fact before he was released, there were some changes happening, for example like the redevelopment of Alexandra. We used not to have the tarred road and the high street lights and the beautiful houses that have been built also in Alexandra. Mandela was released when these things were happening in Alexandra. But, unfortunately, it so happened that the councillors who were supposed to be helping in the redevelopment of Alexandra became members of political organisations so that uprooted their involvement in the community. Most of them joined the IFP. That's very good because they need to belong somewhere but it was not good because they were serving the community, not everybody is a member of the IFP, nor is everybody a member of the ANC for that matter. So changes have been happening in the township. Now the changes have stopped mainly because we don't have a City Councillor any more, we have an Administrator who has got to start from scratch again to know what's happening in the township, to know the right people to approach for advice and so on.

POM     What about in your own life personally, can you point to anything specific that you can attribute to the repeal of the apartheid legislation or the beginning of the reform of the political process?

BM     No I cannot. Nothing has changed. I can point for a fact I applied for job to be a manager of a market whereby the person who started this market who went to school with me in Alexandra, he mentioned that I was overqualified for the job, so to me really it doesn't make any sense. I mean you are talking of changes and here's a black man who's got the skills, who's got the talent, who can do the job and he's being denied that job mainly because I was not a member of a political organisation when I was interviewed.

POM     What political organisation?

BM     They wanted to know if I'm a member of a political organisation. I said no, I haven't re-applied to the ANC for my personal reasons. Yet again they ended up hiring somebody from the ANC.

POM     Are you afraid that that type of nepotism and patronage could become part of the future?

BM     It is going to be part of the future, like if you are not known to be a member of a certain institution or you are not known because of your political application, you need to recognise that's number one for a job. They start looking into the member side before other people could get jobs.

POM     Are you disappointed then after two years?

BM     No I'm not disappointed because of this little aspect that happened to me concerning the job. I'm very much positive in as far as the progress so far, I'm thinking of the Peace Accord, thinking of CODESA and other things that are happening to change the whole situation. So I am not looking at the changes especially that affect me but what are they doing for the whole country.

POM     What do you think will emerge out of the CODESA process?

BM     Well I hope they start not only debating but finalising things like the constitution and also finalising matters of who will be running the country, how is the country going to be run, and I hope CODESA, among other people, address the education programme that we are having in this country. That also includes the unemployment rate which is very high. I hope that will be addressed by CODESA.

POM     If out of this process you had an arrangement whereby the ANC agreed to share power with the NP in a government, where the ANC would be the senior partner and the NP would be the junior partner, but the NP would continue to hold ministerial portfolios, maybe in finance, transportation, whatever, would you find that an acceptable outcome?

BM     That would be very good provided people haven't been nominated. You've got other organisations that are placing their markers around. We don't have to look over some of those organisations, that includes the homeland leaders and the traditional leaders and so on. I'll be happy if people go to an election and elect whichever party they want to put in power and if that party needs other people who have got different expertise insofar as different things are concerned then they can start recruiting those people to help run the country despite the fact that I am a member of the NP or maybe another organisation.

POM     One thing that I raised here with Linda and with Jeanette, and in other townships too, and that is what's called the 'ring of terror' during the mid 1980s when the comrades took over and ran things. What happened during that period: (i) how did that situation develop; (ii) what happened; (iii) how was the situation brought back under control, if it was brought back under control?

BM     Personally I think that insofar as the police doing their jobs by protecting the community, making justice to be the order of the day, there were some cases where you find if you go and report a murder case it would end up nowhere, or somebody killing somebody and so on. So all of these things contributed towards the comrades saying, "We can do our own things." That's when this thing started in 1984 up to 1987.

POM     But these are children of 13, 14?

BM     Well I'm not talking of children in our case in Alexandra. Maybe in other townships. In Alexandra we had the Alexandra Action Committee whereby people like Mayekiso, and others who were parents for that matter, or adults who were in the Executive Committee of that. Maybe in other townships you found that the children were responsible for some of these kangaroo courts and so on. I don't know of any case in Alexandra. There might have been some cases whereby young people took over. But I can tell you as far as crime is concerned, crime was very high before the comrades started doing their own thing. Crime was zero you would walk from one street to another street in the middle of the night without fear. They used to visit the shebeens and wherever there was a noise or something and ask permission to search there, the people who are drinking liquor. Quite a lot of weapons were taken from those people. So to me as far as crime is concerned the comrades really did their bit, though it looks like in many ways they were competing with the SA Police. Then came 1986, a lot of them were detained and some of them operated underground, some of them went to other places. But as far as other projects are concerned like the redevelopment of Alexandra and the other projects, unfortunately they didn't really play a big role.

POM     Sorry, they didn't play a big role in?

BM     In helping that maybe the organisations like senior citizens and so on, that was not their affair.

POM     But they did hold kangaroo courts?

BM     Well there were cases where young people were arrested. One of the cases appeared in the newspaper here in Alexandra whereby a young lady was sjamboked by young people.

POM     Was she raped?

BM     No I think it was difference between a man and wife whereby the man went first to these young people and said, "My wife is not sleeping at home like she used to." So the young people took over and meted their own justice. To them it was justice but it was wrong for young people to punish somebody who is older than them.

POM     When you look at Alexandra today what are the main problems that must be addressed in the next couple of years?

BM     Accommodation, it's a very big problem. Why I am saying that is because everybody has started either expanding his or her own house using whatever material that's available. I'm talking of the people whom we can say in brackets are the residents of Alexandra. I'm not talking of the people who are staying in these makeshift houses, cuckoos. So everybody is extending his or her own house. I also did it at my home. Other people who came out of Alexandra, either from other townships or maybe from the homelands, have erected their homes, small little houses out of corrugated iron and so on. So to me accommodation is a problem. Houses have been built but the ordinary man in the street, I mean can he afford some of the houses that have been built? That does not address the main problem; in part yes, but not all in all.

POM     What other problems would you point to?

BM     Education is another problem. 1990 the attendance insofar as our schools in Alexandra was very bad. Out of 100% I would say 25%.

POM     Is that right?

BM     Where you find, I mean the schools are supposed to be starting around eight but you find nine o'clock the students are out of their classrooms, out of the schools, roaming around the streets. That's the part of the students, that also includes some of their activities insofar as staying away from school for political reasons and then the sit-in that they did.

POM     Now the ANC has told children to go back to school yet many children have not done so.

BM     Yes it has.

POM     Why is there such low attendance by children at school?

BM     I think, it has been announced also by the SA Democratic Teachers Union that also includes Allied Teachers Association and also the Students Representative Council and these youth organisations, political organisation from the ANC Youth League, PASO and others. But again it looks like these organisations have overlooked some other factors which are not making schooling to be as it is supposed to be. You are talking in terms of other young people being involved in stealing cars and some other young people have become prostitutes, some other young people are involved in other activities like they are musicians, some of them are actors, some of them are just doing absolutely nothing. So if you take all of these factors and other factors also, really school wouldn't be 100% that it's supposed to be.

POM     But you're saying that 75% don't attend.

BM     That's what I'm saying. They go to school just for the sake of being there but I don't think most of them do sit down behind a desk and just do their job. They do go to school, I mean to the premises of the school, because that's another way of pushing time.

POM     Hanging out.

BM     Hanging out as you say, yes.

POM     How has the structure of family life in Alexandra broken down over the last ten to fifteen years?

BM     I think it's worse now whereby you find young girls leaving home at the age of 15, 16, even as young as 14 some of them are staying in these cuckoos, some of them are sick and tired of listening to their parents. I mentioned 1976 things started changing whereby young people started youth empowerment, in the wrong way, having the authority of saying, "You can go to hell, I can do it my own way." So that has broken the family life as you are supposed to do it and unfortunately some of the churches are not also playing their role in guiding young people. That includes most of the professional people. I mean how many role models have we got in Alexandra, so to say? I don't have a role model in Alexandra. I grew up not knowing a role model. The only role models are people who are fat, people who have stolen quite a lot of money in banks. My role model might be a prostitute who's making quite a lot of money in town. That is negative really.

POM     What about the relationship between the community and the hostels?

BM     That's bad. It seems that this violence started. I mean we used to have hostels in the townships whereby people were staying in a hostel because they are employed, or whatever the case, the owner has bought that place for those people to sleep in. I mean they used to be part of the community here.

POM     So you would actually have residences in the city?

BM     That's right. Even inside Alexandra here, like at the corner we used to have a hotel. Unfortunately, that was the time when peri-urban, which is a police sort of unit, it used to be very strong during those times whereby influx control was not relaxed, so it means whoever was qualified to be in Alexandra had to make sure that either you were in the hostel or you were outside the township. But things started to be bad when this violence started in 1989/90 and after 1990.

POM     How many hostel dwellers might there be, or hostel residents might there be altogether?

BM     I wouldn't know really. I wouldn't know. But the two hostels that we've got, for men really, quite a lot of them stay in those hostels because they share a room as big as this one, even smaller than this you find four people staying in that room in a hostel so quite a lot of them are in the hostel.

POM     And where do they go in their free time? When they're not working do they stay in their rooms or do they go out to the local shebeens or do they have their own drinking places?

BM     Some of those who used to go into the township or maybe to other places, would frequent the shebeens. We used to have the Zulu traditional dance with the hostels, we used to have the Pedis doing their traditional dance, that also includes the Shangaans. Those are some of the activities that they used to do. Some of them were involved in either watching football because there are some stadiums around the township, and the women used to play basketball and others were involved in some other activities like knitting and sewing. Unfortunately, the traditional aspect of the whole thing has stopped, I'm talking also of the traditional dances they used to have at the hostels. Some of them used to play games like, you call it draughts but it was having an African name, like having holes in the ground. So those things aren't happening the way they used to do.

POM     When did they start to die out?

BM     Because of the violence. The Zulu guys who used to do traditional dance are now signing their freedom songs insofar as Inkatha is concerned and the other people in the township are doing the traditional thing, they are now doing the toyi-toying and singing freedom songs.

POM     When a new government takes over, elected by universal suffrage, what must that government do in order to show the people of Alexandra that having their own government makes a real difference in their lives?

BM     You say how?

POM     When the government is elected what must it do, what changes must take place here in Alexandra for the people of Alexandra to know that having elected their own government actually makes a difference to the quality of their lives?

BM     I think number one, I'm thinking of violence being stopped and whatever armies, that includes the so-called third force and so on, if those things really can stop whatever they are doing people are really going to start having confidence in whoever is going to be in the leadership part of the whole thing. I mean that would make things very easy for people to know how, to understand things like voting, to understand other things like a democratically elected leader and things like that. I'm not saying they don't know them but we are not enjoying those things because of the violence that's happening.

POM     Well let's move past that stage. Let's say that we have an election and the government is elected and for the sake of argument let's just say it's an ANC government. They are now in power. What must that government do to show the people of Alexandra that the people of South Africa, having their own government at last, makes an actual difference to the quality of their lives?

BM     I think that in Alexandra whereby night-soil and some of the toilets are not flushed and so on, if the changes of the people can come in a way whereby each and every  Alexandran can say this is my home, this is my house. I am not talking about the tin shacks that we are having. I am talking about some of the houses, the older houses in Alexandra. I mean if the whole of Alexandra could be revamped to be a place where families can live. People who have got possessions are very jealous of their possessions, they protect their own things and once you do that you start having a family which loves life and very good things that includes travelling and education and other people's culture. But once you start living in a shack there is nothing that you protect there. Even if they can destroy this house you will still go and build another. So if each and every resident who came to Soweto or Duduza had a right of owning his or her own house. People have been paying rent. I mean I'm 37 years old, we are still paying rent at home for the house we've stayed in for the last 20 years, so how long is that going to be?

POM     Who owns that house?

BM     The authority here, the Town Council. If people can buy their own houses. Like in Alexandra, again people were given their own yards to buy back but because of the underhand methods where -

POM     Let me ask the question a different way. Let's say an ANC government is elected and let's say it's elected tomorrow, a miracle. Let's say that three years later I come back here and I walk down 17th Avenue, what should I expect to see that's different from what I see today?

BM     Well firstly I think after they have been elected, I think attitudes of people need to be changed and then people need to be educated in some other aspects like how to enjoy the fruits of liberation. It cannot happen overnight that you find that Alexandra as a suburb that you can compare it to Houghton.

POM     I know that but what should be - for example should there be less refuse around?

BM     I think the minor things like to other people it's minor but precious, we talk of pavements. We don't have pavements, we don't even have public toilets for that matter. We don't even have a park. We've got a swimming pool that's always closed, not even operating in summer now.

POM     What I'm saying is after three or four years of there being an ANC government should the people expect that they have a toilet, running water, electricity and just a cleaner area? Is that a reasonable expectation?

BM     No it isn't reasonable because the ANC is going on, it would have inherited a lot of problems from the previous government. It would need to start getting into the offices of the places where they are supposed to be and monitor the country and so on. That is really a very quick thing. But the people themselves, we are not the high people, unlike white people who say, "I did that, we are the people." The people themselves must start working to help whoever is in government to correct some of the things like refuse. Black people can own some of the refuse removal businesses. I mentioned Mr Twala who is a co-director of the people have to get together and say if we need a park, let's do it so that the ANC should be seen as a government that's working for the people. No, it shouldn't be a position from up going down but from the people going to whoever is ruling. So within three years I wouldn't say Alexandra would be without refuse now because the people can do it and say we are doing it, let's see what the ANC is going to do.

POM     But will they? What do you think?

BM     Again, the ANC is so different from other organisations. I think it's the right organisation for people. I'm talking of the way they do their things. They always come to their general membership and find out what the programmes are. I think they will do that, either give guidance wherever. The people are also telling the ANC what to do.

POM     Does that happen here in Alexandra?

BM     Well not everybody is an ANC member so they cannot tell the ANC. So far the ANC is not governing Alexandra though they have got many members in Alexandra. So whatever problems we are encountering we always point fingers at the Town Council because we are paying for the services that are happening now.

POM     I thought people weren't paying their rents or services?

BM     That's right.

POM     They're not paying rents. Are they paying - ?

BM     Not all people are paying rent.

POM     How about for electricity and - ?

BM     People are paying for electricity because of the new system they've introduced.

POM     Where they can turn it off? Is that the meter system?

BM     Yes, the meter system, put in the money. You go to the centre and buy some units and they give you a small paper that you put in there. So everybody who has got electricity is paying for electricity now.

POM     In the last two years have you observed any changes in the behaviour of black people towards whites?

BM     Well maybe. A lot of white people are coming into town. It has been happening since we grew up. Black people never had an opportunity of going to the suburbs mainly because of the pass laws whereby you get arrested for being in a white area without a permit. So that has been ingrained, that has been the order of the day, or the law that's ruling blacks. Some white people do come into the township but unfortunately some of the white people who came into the township are do-gooders. They bring in things to suit them or to give to the poor people. That's how the relationship has been based around.

POM     You say, unfortunately?

BM     Yes, unfortunately, mainly because that's how white people came into the township, to give to the poor. They haven't come into the township as friends. That's why I say it is unfortunate. So most of the black people whenever they see white people, OK they'll be bringing us blankets. Those expectations have been raised.

POM     Are those expectations still there?

BM     Yes they are still there. That's how these things have been happening. I have never had a white person as my friend because I used to fight with quite a lot of young people in town nearly daily.

POM     Why?

BM     Because of the situation that we found ourselves in. We were supposed to look at them as above the employer or the boy. There are white people who are

POM     This is what I'm getting at, in the last two years since this process of reform began, has there been a change in black behaviour?

BM     No. Well I cannot say black behaviour only. I'm talking of two

POM     Well, have blacks become more assertive, more self-confident, more demanding?

BM     No that hasn't happened because of the wrong things that have been done by the police. I mean plenty of people were beaten for no reason at all. If one policeman can hit me now for no reason it looks like all the white people are that way. So attitudes haven't changed. The only white people that we see now in the township are policemen, or maybe people who are like newspaper people so that people only collect their story. There hasn't been any relationship that has been built that I've got a friend who's staying at Yeoville. There are black people who are staying in Hillbrow, I don't know how the situation is there, but I cannot say in the township the situation has changed whereby people are positive about their white counterparts, maybe because all the white people have got doubts. White people are protecting some of the things that they have acquired either through the system of apartheid or maybe through their own way.

POM     You've got these huge differences between the amount of money that's spent on blacks and whites for education and for health care and for social services and for pensions. How long do you think will it take to narrow those differences and will white people in SA have to accept that in a new SA they're going to have to accept a lower standard of living?

BM     It's going to take time, it is going to take time especially for those changes to come about, especially for the narrowing, also for the sharing of activities or maybe places like hospitals and clinics. For example, there are these Model D schools that have been opened whereby blacks can mix with white people. It so happened one of the schools there's hardly one person who has applied, that school which used to be white only. So to me it looks like really the white people don't want to have these black people there. That also includes other schools where those schools were attacked during the night by unknown people. So to me really the narrowing of these expectations is going to take years. There are white people who have accepted the situation whereby you find people are sharing whatever, like health and clinics and so on. It's a few number, very small number.

POM     But surely a black government couldn't continue to spend three times as much on white education as they do on black education?

BM     No.

POM     Well either they'll have to reduce the amount spent on white education and increase spending on black education, right?

BM     Or make it one amount. We talk of education whereby there are something like 30 departments for black people. Why? Yet there is only one department for white people. So this is the budget for health, we are not having black and white, this is the money that we are going to use for the hospitals where the people will be going to whenever they are sick.

POM     You talked about the Model D school. If you had a choice and you could send your child to a white school in one of the suburbs or you could send your child to a school here in Alex that would be just as good as the white school, that would have just as good facilities, just as good teachers and just as much resources, which would you prefer to do?

BM     I'd send my child to that one which has got the facilities that would make my child ready for the working situation. I don't care where the school is. People are sending some of their children to white schools because they don't have any other choice.

POM     But I'm saying if you did have the choice and there's a school here which is just as good as the one, say, in Orange Grove, would you then prefer to send your child to school here in the local community or would you prefer to send him outside?

BM     I would send my child to the nearest school and the school that has got the facilities like any other school that's in SA.

POM     How about the Group Areas Act? If you again have a choice, would you prefer to live here in Alex or would you prefer to live in an area outside, in some of the suburbs where you have a mixture of black and white people?

BM     But when we think of some of them, the culture of things that are governing a black person. I mean here we are culturally different, like black people have got some activities whereby during the night those activities happen, whereby the beating of the drums, the singing and so on. If I go to the suburbs and then I still exercise or believe in those things it means then I am going to have a problem wherever I am. White people complain to the police.

POM     Just in that line, what kind of cultural differences would you point to, general cultural differences?

BM     I'm talking of religion as one. You've got the Zion Church in Alexandra, hundreds of members, churches happening in the township whereby the beating of the drums and other things are happening. Really those are accepted in this house, those that are happening in the township.

POM     They're accepted here.

BM     Right. We are talking of night vigils. My relatives for my father's passing away, during the night we need to prepare a programme, speeches, songs, many activities and so on that disturb the life of my neighbour. I am talking of other activities like initiation schools, those are cultural things that are happening. They are not happening in the suburbs when you go to a doctor. I've mentioned the church. And also parties that are happening during the evening which are not happening in the suburbs. So for me to go to the suburbs because of the new SA wouldn't be wrong but I've got to think of things that I grew up in, the things that I believe before I could start uprooting myself and going to the suburbs.

POM     Well which would you prefer to live in?

BM     I prefer in a place whereby I am not going to disturb the next person. I wouldn't like to go and stay in Houghton. I mean there's no life for me in Houghton. I grew up amongst people who know each other. People in the suburbs hardly know their neighbour, hardly know the first thing. I know nearly everybody in this township and that's life to me. I wouldn't stay in the suburbs really. I would feel so lonely, I would feel lost and I would rather go and buy a place somewhere where there are people. I don't say white people aren't friendly but in this case I'm saying people who associate with each other.

POM     When you hear, as you have again and again, this phrase 'the new South Africa', what does that mean to you? What vision does it conjure up?

BM     Well firstly the things that are being denied, my civil rights as an individual. To me it means I will be getting those, I will be getting my vote. I will be getting my rights as an individual. I've got the right under the law. I will be doing my own thing as well if I'm not endangering or stabbing another person and I will be a human being for a change. And then other things will come later. I'm not talking of material things. It can be a new SA but poor people will still be there. I am talking that people will still be there, that's right.

POM     Do you think that white people owe black people an apology for the injury and wrong they have done to them not only over the centuries but in particular over the last 40 years of apartheid?

BM     That's right. Not merely white people because white people have been programmed to do some of the things. In particular talking of the NP and all the members of the NP and all the departments that were controlled by NP. I'm talking of the police, I'm talking of all masses, of the social workers, I'm talking about the people who elected the NP in power, those are the people who owe not only the black people for that matter, Indians also need an apology. Coloureds also need an apology but I don't think that has been happening.

POM     When you look at the future what's your greatest fear looking at the next two to three years?

BM     My main fear is I wouldn't like SA to turn me into what we see in Mozambique between Renamo and Chissano's government. I wouldn't like to see that happening.

POM     Do you think there is a possibility of that happening?

BM     Yes, that's right. With all the things happening here there is a possibility of that. Political organisations are flexing their muscles, they all want to govern the country. That also includes some individuals. I wouldn't like that to be happening.

POM     Did I ask you about right wing violence? Do you think the threat of large scale right wing violence is a real threat?

BM     Yes I think it's a real threat.

POM     Do you it's something the government could easily put down?

BM     That's right. The right wing didn't just come out just for the sake of it; they also have their thing, they are fighting for their survival. But all the years the members of the right wing or the Afrikaners had the privileges, had a lot of privileges for that matter. The farmers had big subsidies from the government. Initially the farmers were not into business, were not into management of things, but the government made it possible for the ordinary Afrikaans speaking person to go to school. He should own the pharmacy, should own the company, should be somebody out there. I think the government also can help in making the right wing see sense.

POM     When you look at this whole question of violence, would you fear more the kind of violence that you've experienced here already, that it might break out again, or would you fear the right wing trying to export violence into black townships?

BM     Yes, I think that would happen.

POM     Which?

BM     The exportation of the violence into the townships by outside people.

POM     Would you fear that more than more violence between Inkatha and ANC supporters?

BM     Though many people died between the ANC and IFP they didn't have those sophisticated arms like the right wing is having. Some arms were stolen and most of the Afrikaans speaking people who are members of the right wing who are working at the mines whereby they have got explosives and other arms that are unknown to us and they are being trained by some of the people who went through the hands of the SADF so you can mark wherever they want to do it they can do it.

POM     When Mandela said in Bloemfontein that within six months there would be an interim government and within twelve an election for a Constituent Assembly, do you think he was being too optimistic?

BM     Well again I wouldn't know. I don't think he wants to demoralise the people by saying those things will happen, say, in 1994. The people have got to have something to look for now. I mean I'm thinking of this new year and he's got a big membership of followers who are supposed to be made to be vigilant and also to extract things. He is optimistic in the rising of the membership that he is having. So we don't know if these things will happen in the timeframe.

POM     What's your own view?

BM     I hope and I feel it should happen like he has predicted.

POM     You believe that they will?

BM     Yes.

POM     So if I'm back here this time next year you'll have an interim government?

BM     Well, you can come for the things that have happened.

POM     I think maybe we can leave it at that. Have I left out anything that you think I should have asked you but have missed?

BM     No, you have covered quite a lot.

POM     Going into your own family background, your own upbringing and what you experienced?

BM     It's quite exciting. I did all the things that young people are supposed to do from being a churchgoer, a serious churchgoer, member of the gangsters, a member of the Rasta movement, you name it.

POM     You've done it.

BM     I've done it. I've been involved in confrontational politics in 1976. I've done nearly everything. I've been a carrier, sold peanuts, worked for other black people.

POM     What background are you in terms of nationality?

BM     You mean me? My mother's Shangaan and my father's   I was brought up by the Shangaans so I'm using my mother's surname. I'm Shangaan, I speak Shangaan. But I can speak more than eight languages spoken in the township. I want to go and learn Spanish and French.

POM     For yourself, what are your aspirations in the new SA? What do you want to be able to do that you are restricted or unable to do now?

BM     Well I cannot say I was restricted because of other things that happened along the way. I wanted to be a lawyer but at the point of 1976 made me not go to school because of the harassment from the Security Branch and other forces. I cannot say I was restricted to do anything really. I wanted to go and do drama and act and I am also interested in the movies.

POM     Are you married?

BM     I was married traditionally, I am separated from my wife. I've got a daughter who's eight years old.

POM     And is she living with?

BM     She's staying with me.

POM     She's staying with you. Is it just the two of you live together?

BM     No she's staying with my mother.

POM     Your mother lives with you?

BM     No I'm living alone.

POM     OK, that will be the next episode.  Let me get the spelling of your name down again.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.