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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Jul 1992: Shabalala, Thomas

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POM     Thomas, just for the tape would you identify yourself in terms of who you are and the organisations you represent.

TS     I'm the leader, community leader of this area called Lindelani. Lindelani is apart of a township which is in the suburbs of Kwa-Mashu Township. I am also the Chairman of Lindelani Branch of the IFP, Inkatha branch, and I am also the Chairman of the Taxi Association of Lindelani. I have been living in this area since 1983 July.

POM     Now I'll ask you this because I've often seen references in papers to you as a 'warlord'. What does that mean?

TS     In fact many people have asked me that question, even myself. I've seen that in the papers and it took me a long time to understand what is a warlord, besides knowing that if you take a dictionary you find the word. But after seeing what happened in the Gulf War, in Iraq, I became to know what is a warlord. My feeling is that a warlord is Saddam Hussein, I'm not a warlord. To me it's just a nickname, it doesn't harm me. I am not worried about it because it's not my name. My name is Thomas.

POM     But there's been a war going on here in Natal and around this area over the last several years between supporters of ANC and supporters of the IFP. Could you describe a little the nature of that war as it has affected Lindelani, your community?

TS     I can say we have experienced this violence as early as 1985 where it was started by this group who are affiliated to the ANC. At the time there was the UDF. The fighting started at Kwa-Mashu, it didn't come up to Lindelani. We, as the IFP supporters and the residents of Lindelani, we went down to stop the violence where the people were looting, burning people's shops, stoning buses, burning houses. When we went down we managed to calm that violence in 1985.

POM     Now what was the cause of that violence there?

TS     At that time in 1985 it wasn't so much involved in politics it was just starting, nobody knew what was going on, whether it was hooliganism or whatever. But when it came back again in 1989 then we really knew that it was political violence now. The ANC was involved with the UDF using their people where they said they want the country to be ungovernable and they were forcing the people to join the ANC. So that's the time we really got involved and we were also attacked right up in Lindelani. It was 2 a.m. in the morning I remember on that day when they attacked our area so we had to defend ourselves and we managed to get rid of them. They ran away and left the area. It affected my area because several houses were burnt down, a few people were killed because people were fast asleep at that time, 2 o'clock in the morning. So we have rebuilt those houses and are leading a better life again although we get threats, phone calls, insulting words, this and that, but we have no problem. Even if they stay away we have our shops running as usual. We have no problem at the moment.

POM     But would you, your community, have armed militia or armed people that would be there to defend the community from attack?

TS     In fact the residents of this area, everybody knows that when there's violence or anybody trying to attack us, everybody is a soldier in this area. Also we don't need in fact at the moment to form any body of defence, but seeing that it is going to be our policy and it's in the National Peace Accord, the communities in their areas can have these defence units. I think we are going to form one now.

POM     You're going to form one.

TS     We are going to form one.

POM     At this meeting in Ulundi, at the conference, there were resolutions passed that people should form defence units in their communities.

TS     That's right.

POM     Could you tell us a little about why that resolution was put forward?

TS     I think it was a good resolution because it came out from the followers of the Chief Minister and our leader. We told our leader and we told the conference that our members are being killed like flies. We've lost over 200 leaders only, I'm talking about leaders of the IFP, not counting the members only that have died. There are over 2000 I can say. So it came up that we had requested our leadership that we have, or that we must be allowed, after reading the National Peace Accord, the book, the blue book, then we saw that we have a chance, if that is in the blue book that we can form these defence units too to protect ourselves because we can say that the violence is increasing instead of decreasing so we felt that we have got to ask for this and we were very happy when we were told that we can. Secondly, I believe, why do I like that, the defence units now when I see that we must have it in our areas, that those people will be trained properly. That's my belief and they will be trained properly. We are not going to have people that will be trained to go and attack people. They will be defence units to protect us because the government doesn't have enough police to protect us in our areas.

POM     Who will do the training?

TS     So far I am not clear. We are still going to get it from our headquarters, from Ulundi, how it is going to go about it. They are still going to tell us whether they will have people coming to train us from Ulundi. I don't know yet.

POM     Now you had this meeting since the last time we met between Mandela and Buthelezi, they met on one occasion and they urged everybody to stop fighting and then you had the National Peace Accord and you had both Nelson Mandela and Dr Buthelezi standing with the Peace Accord and yet you say the violence continues to get worse.

TS     Yes it's getting worse.

POM     Why is that?

TS     I believe that if our leaders, I'm talking now about Dr Buthelezi and Dr Mandela and the PAC leaders and other organisations, the leaders can go to - especially if Dr Buthelezi and Dr Mandela can go to the people to ask their followers and talk to us about the violence, I think it will decrease. But now the people themselves can see that there is no good relationship between Dr Buthelezi and Mandela so there will never be peace even at the grassroots.

POM     Do you think that relationship between Mandela and Dr Buthelezi has got worse over the last two years?

TS     I think the words that are being passed, that man telling that man he's this and that, it's getting worse. The relationship is getting worse.

POM     Now has this community been following the proceedings at CODESA? Has your community and the IFP members here, and this is largely an IFP community, have you been following what's been going on at CODESA 2?

TS     Yes, we've been following that.

POM     And what's the opinion of people here regarding that?

TS     It's quite clear that the ANC went to CODESA with the intention to dominate that meeting of CODESA. When they found things that were getting hard they had to run out because they've lost support. Some organisations came out, clearly they didn't support the ANC. The ANC wanted anything that they say everybody must agree on that, so half of the organisations that are represented in CODESA they didn't agree to whatever resolutions were being taken by the ANC. Then the ANC tried to find something that they will use to say that they are running out of CODESA, then they came with this Boipatong story where the people were killed. It wasn't the first incident where the people were killed, Boipatong. In Crossroads people were killed and in other areas people were killed. They are dying even now so they just raise that question because they know that they were losing support in CODESA from the other organisations.

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 through what happened, through those people from the township who went and necklaced somebody from the hostel, they started the trouble.

POM     When you hear allegations made of links between Inkatha and the SAP or the KwaZulu Police, do you sometimes work in co-operation with them? What is the nature of the relationship in this area between the police and you?

TS     First of all let me start by saying that the police are human beings like anybody. To me the police are the same to me, that's my personal feeling, because some of them you find in the SAP, some of them support the ANC and some support the IFP. Also in KwaZulu Police you find that there are some KwaZulu Police who support the ANC and some support the IFP. So it depends on the attitude of the current type of that policeman how he behaves to the community. For instance, we have had incidents where South African Police came to this place and my people don't like them. And then came an incident that some of KwaZulu Police were doing the same to us but some of them were good. That's why I say to me they are the same, both of them.

POM     Again, when you hear allegations that the government is behind the violence, what do you think is responsible for most of the violence in the country?

TS     Well I do hear but I don't have any proof to say that the government is behind it. It can be so, but I have no proof. What now really puzzles me, we have been told about the third force all the time which I believed when they have talked about the third force, I believe that was the government forces. But seeing there are so many people who have attacked us and some have been arrested wearing the uniforms of the police, it really puzzles me because many ANC supporters have been caught with guns attacking people, wearing the South African Defence Force uniforms, wearing the South African Police uniform or even wearing the KwaZulu Police uniform. That is what puzzles me now because all of them had heard about the government doing that and the third force which is the security or the police are killing people. But I myself have been warned on several occasions, I have been informed that I must be careful, the people who are going to attack me will be wearing uniforms like policemen.

POM     Who gives you warnings like this?

TS     Information I get from private sources that I have, that I cannot disclose. Even from our offices I can say, from Inkatha offices. Sometimes Ulundi phones me and says, "Be careful. If at night or anytime policemen knock at your house don't open your doors." I have told my family that. They mustn't at night when a policeman knocks.

POM     Do you take special precautions when you are living here? I know you are building a fence around the perimeter of the house at the moment, but in the meantime the house is very exposed, the door could be kicked in. Do you take any precautions against that?

TS     Not at the moment. I'm only trying now because all along, although I have these allegations, the rumour that I will be attacked, but now I'm taking it seriously because I can see that there are many leaders, strong leaders, that have been killed here especially in Durban and I'm the only one that they always say they are looking for now. After killing my co-partner, Mr. Sabela, who was a member of parliament of KwaZulu who was based at Umlazi, then they said the next person they are looking for is me. That is why I'm taking all these precautions now.

POM     Do you see most of the violence in the country now as being really the political rivalry between Inkatha and the ANC?

TS     Yes it is Inkatha and the ANC but also they have hooliganism. There are those who just want to see the violence. What I have noticed in the past we also, my people and Tuzuma(?) we were fighting, our neighbours. The moment the violence starts the people run away then you find those little kids going into those houses, stealing TVs, stealing radios. That also is involved, people get a chance to go and steal in people's houses. We run away, the people run away and they steal all the goods.

POM     The National Peace Accord has under its structures, there's a local committee, is there?

TS     Local Dispute Resolution Committee, Local Dispute Committee, LDC.

POM     Could you tell me how that is set up?

TS     Yes, the LDC, I'm serving on the Regional Dispute Resolution Committee. I'm the Chairman on the other side of the IFP and we have the Chairman on the other side of the ANC.

POM     Who would that be on the ANC side?

TS     We have Sipho Tabashe(?) and his co-Chairman is Willison ??... although they are changing and I don't know who they are going to give us tomorrow. Then we form these Local Dispute Resolution Committees in an area where there's violence, we get the churches involved, somebody to represent the churches, somebody to represent or maybe four to represent the IFP, the ANC, we have local business people involved in that committee. We are also trying to include the taxi guys, also involve the teachers, so that when there is any problem between the two groups they can discuss it on the table.

POM     Now do you meet on a regular basis?

TS     We meet twice a month. Those committees they have their own structures, maybe some where they feel there's too much violence they meet sometimes twice a week. Some meet once a week.

POM     Your committee meets?

TS     Twice a month.

POM     Twice a month. And would there be a list of incidents that have to be gone through?

TS     That's right. We have to go through the incidents. For instance, if we get to my case I'll show you some. We've got a book. We're also involved in the committee development that is taking place in our townships. What steps can we do to assist to stop bringing violence to - that raises the question where I've said, let's go right down to the grassroots, get all the leaders on the grassroots level on both sides. Let's bring them and have a big multi-party conference where they can meet like us. For instance, I never thought I would sit with the ANC guys all along because I knew they were my enemies. They had never thought of sitting with me. I remember the first time I came into this committee they said, "Inkatha is bringing in warlords now." They were not prepared to sit with me because I am the warlord. I told them that I want it in writing, they must apologise for calling us 'warlords'. Then they did apologise and then after a month they turned around and said if they only had me and Mr. Ntombele(?) who was my colleague who was based at Pietermaritzburg, who was also a warlord, if they had only had us long ago they feel we should have done very, very much on that committee because we know exactly what is going on at the grassroots. The people who are representing these committees they knew nothing because they are not living with the people.

POM     So are the ANC representatives on the committee living ...?

TS     Those who were there at the time when this committee started, the Regional Dispute Resolution Committee, on our side the IFP we had Dr Mdlalose and Dr. Ngubane, they stay right in Ulundi. And on the ANC side they had Zuma, I don't know who was the other guy.

POM     Is Harry Gwala in there?

TS     No, not Harry Gwala. That is why they feel very much comfortable now because the people who were involved in that community are the people who live with the people at the grassroots.

POM     Have you developed relationships with the people in the ANC?

TS     There is very much development. We communicate very well although I know that they won't make me to feel comfortable because you can sit with these people and talk with them but on the other side when they go back they tend to kill you. I cannot trust them so much.

POM     What's the problem? There's this Dispute Resolution Committee that is composed of people at the grassroots, who know where the problem areas are, who know their communities and at the same time you say the violence is getting worse and worse. So it's not working. What's not working?

TS     You're quite right, it's not working. You've just said it. It's not working. As I've said in the past I believe the next step that can be taken now is that the two leaders go to the people. That's the only step that can help as far as I'm concerned. Even if they can include the State President when they go to the people, then the people see them together.

POM     But when you get together at one of these meetings of the Dispute Resolution Committee, do you ever discuss the fact that the process isn't working? That even though you meet twice a month and even though you go through one case after another, that violent incidents increase rather than diminish?

TS     Yes we've discussed this. We've discussed this many times, you can even see it in our minutes and I have said once, "Let's try other strategies." Both groups representing our organisations in that committee, we have agreed that we are going to write to our leaders demanding that they must meet and go to their followers because we can see that this is not working. It is not working. We even said, there came a time where some members in the committee were saying, "Why don't we print some T-shirts of peace and distribute them to the people". I said "That won't work, a T-shirt doesn't mean anything." The best thing is to try and get the leaders on the grassroots for two nights maybe or two days somewhere, we have some workshops, set an example to areas where there is peace. For instance if we go to ... where both leaders in that area, IFP and ANC, there was a hell of a lot of fighting in the area but now they are working together and whenever these guys call their meetings they both go to that meeting whether it's an ANC or IFP meeting they sometimes meet once a month together. There's peace in the area. So if we can have people like that to talk to other leaders on the grassroots, tell them how they did it to their area I think it can work. So they are doing that now. They are having a first workshop at our congress.

POM     Workshops?

TS     Yes, for leaders on the grassroots.

POM     How easy is it to get a gun around here?

TS     It's very hard. To me, my feeling is that that is why we are having so many unlicensed arms because if a man is issued with a licensed gun he knows how to handle it. So if the government can change and issue, let it be easy like for other races to get a licence, I think that will solve the problem.

POM     Because?

TS     I have got a gun, I know it's licensed. I can't just shoot at random or shoot anybody. I can never do it because I know that this is a licensed firearm. But if it's not you can do anything.

POM     How easy is it to get unlicensed arms? What weapons are used in the killings? You hear a lot about AK47s, sub-machine guns. Is there a black market in weapons?

TS     Yes.

POM     Well if I wanted to buy an AK47 how much would I have to pay on the black market? If I sent the word out around here, "I'm looking for an AK47", not in Lindelani in particular, but in Natal if I put the word out that I'm looking for an AK47, how long would it take before I got an offer and how much would I probably have to pay?

TS     Well going by the newspapers what I've read and it was confirmed, that in a place like Inanda you can even buy, it was in the press, the AK47s for about R100-00, R150-00. But in other areas we also hear they sell them for R1500-00. We hear on the borders of Mozambique, those people are crossing the borders, you can even get it for R50-00, an AK47.

POM     So would you say there a lot of weapons in the whole of Natal?

TS     A lot of weapons in the country now. That really worries me because I feel if the government can have - whereas the government believes not to have more road blocks, if they could have road blocks right round our country there is no more fighting now, there's no more fighting in Angola, this and that. We have so many soldiers that we can use on our borders to take care of these arms not to come into our country. I think the government must really start using those people the government has been using in the wars in other countries to protect the community. They must have more road blocks so that these arms cannot come in.

POM     If I were to ask you what are your main political differences with the ANC, what would they be?

TS     I can say one is that we don't believe that the country must be ungovernable. That's the first one. They want the country ungovernable and although they are many they believe in communism which we don't believe in. We don't like communism. I think those are the major ones I can say. And their strategies where, for instance, they use these People's Courts. We have been calling for abolishment of hanging of people, the death sentence, but they are using them. They sentence people in these outside courts, in these kangaroo courts.

POM     Is that still happening?

TS     Still happening. Every week. Two weeks ago in Kwa-Mashu they killed three children in the same People's Court.

POM     Who would have been the people who ordered those killings? Would it have been the ANC leadership level in that area? How far up in the hierarchy?

TS     It goes to the leadership, the committee in those areas. You find in an area like Lindelani the ANC have their committee and that committee will form this kangaroo court.

POM     What did they hang the three young people for?

TS     They said they were troubling the people in the area. That's what they said. And then we found out at a later stage that those children were not doing what these people were doing, to rob people this and that, so they didn't want to join them so they killed them.

POM     When we were here two years ago you had, I remember, a number of refugees from some areas, in fact I remember one old man who had been before a kangaroo court and while they were deliberating what they would do about him he walked out and kept walking until he ended up in your compound. Are you more optimistic about the prospects of peace here in the future or are you less than you were two years ago?

TS     You mean in my area?

POM     In Natal, not just in your own area. In Natal.

TS     I see that if these two leaders don't go to the people very soon we'll see more violence and violence is going to grow and I even see a war because I believe if we hear that the ANC has got so many tons of weapons that they still want to transport into the country while we are sitting and talking peace on the table, it makes me feel that there is still going to be war in this country.

POM     You're a Zulu?

TS     Yes.

POM     Your first loyalty is to the Zulu nation?

TS     Yes I'm a Zulu but I have no problem with other groups.

POM     What I'm getting at and I'd like to hear what you have to say about this, I've talked to many Zulus in and around Johannesburg, in particular in the hostels there and when we go in and talk to them they always talk in terms of the ANC being a Xhosa dominated organisation which is out to establish a one-party state and to subjugate the Zulu people. So they talk about it very clearly in ethnic terms. So then we go to maybe somebody in the ANC and say, "Is this an ethnic conflict? Is there an ethnic dimension to the conflict here?" And they will say, "No, no there's no ethnic conflict at all. The only ethnic differences that exist were created by apartheid. It didn't precede apartheid in any way. Look at Natal and the war in Natal which has seen the worst violence since the mid 1980s is between Zulu and Zulu, Zulus who support the ANC and Zulus who support Inkatha." What would your analysis of the 'war' (I'm calling it war in inverted commas) be? Is it different here than it is in the rest of the country and if it is would the Zulu who is in the ANC also pay honour to the Zulu King? Would you go into his home and find the photograph of the King?

TS     I don't know whether I put it correctly. The problem that they are faced with in Jo'burg is different from the one in Natal. In Jo'burg you can say that although it's political violence, knowing that the ANC is dominated by the Xhosa, especially in their committee, the Executive Committee there's only one Zulu which is Jacob Zuma. All the others are Xhosas. In Inkatha they believe it's a Zulu organisation which it is not. If you go back in history you will find out that our Chief Minister was once called, and he was once told clearly by the government at that time whether making a mistake - it was Vorster or I don't remember clearly, that Inkatha it must only be Zulus, we mustn't put Xhosas and other groups. So The Chief Minister told him straight that this is not an organisation for Zulus only, I want everyone to be involved. So here in Natal I don't want it said that Zulu is fighting Zulu. Here it is completely different from Jo'burg. Here it is just that people believe that if you are ANC or IFP we must fight. There is no political tolerance, that's the main thing here in Natal. Groups, it's not a problem. Whether you are Xhosa or a Zulu we don't have that, we don't fight for that here. It's only that people are not educated so much in politics that if the ANC will exist then the ANC must be there and the ANC guy doesn't know that the Inkatha must, he just knows that there's an ANC man, I must kill him or there's an Inkatha man I must kill him. It's the political intolerance.

POM     Why is the King not able to exert his moral authority, the King of the Zulu nation to call upon all Zulus in Natal to forsake violence?

TS     The King can do that but it is difficult at the moment. But he can. I remember he has once called a meeting where he told us clearly, telling the Zulus, "If you are in ANC, if you are in IFP, I've got nothing to do with that but I want peace." He has done that. It was last year.

POM     And yet it doesn't work.

TS     It didn't work.

POM     Nothing works.

TS     Yes, because the people on the grassroots can be educated about that, like the churches. You know the Roman church here, that church they have those things there, but it took them a long time to understand that there will be a different church, I mustn't worry about that person if he goes to that church. But with politics they are not educated yet. They must learn. That is why we said in the committee we want to introduce these workshops to educate them, that the IFP will be there even if you kill 2000 a day. My child, the one I have now, I'm praying that he must be in the IFP but he knows what is happening in my house. So that is the main thing, to educate our people about politics and political tolerance. It hasn't started in Natal yet that you're a Xhosa, you're a Zulu, and I'm praying for that not to start.

POM     What about a year ago when something which became known as Inkathagate came on the scene and you had this funding of money from the government to Inkatha for rallies and after that there were revelations by Mr. Kumalo, (the Private Secretary?) about moneys paid or that came from the security forces to train members of a gang called the Black Cats, it also had links with Inkatha. Now for some of these stories there was a fair amount of documentation of evidence, do you dismiss those? Would you say it may have happened or do you think there is some kind of conspiracy going on just to discredit?

TS     We'll talk about the one where they say Inkathagate. I don't know which gate, the front one or back gate, I don't know. But this is my feeling, even if the government can give me money tomorrow to pay for a stadium or to go and arrange a mass meeting, going to talk about something that would help the people, the community of South Africa, I will take that money because I cannot afford to pay for a stadium, for Kings Park. That was mentioned clearly by our Chief Minister that the money that was used wasn't directed to Inkatha, it was fighting with sanctions where everybody was going to benefit. If we're fighting something, not only Inkatha, it was for ANC people, National Party and other people, black and white and coloured, that money was there to book the stadium, it was used for booking the stadium. Kings Park costs a lot of money. Inkatha doesn't have money. We don't get funds that other organisations who have been getting funds, it's only started now that we're getting some funds. So that's why we used the money for fighting sanctions, telling the whole world not to impose sanctions on us so that we are going to assist all sorts of fellowships, South Africans not only Inkatha. That's why I want to make that clear and if there is more money available I can advise my government and even myself if it's going to help me to fight, whether it's sanctions or violence, to hire any stadium, anything to talk to the people, stop violence, I will take that money and use it because that will benefit at the end all South Africans.

     So coming to this training of those people, that also was mentioned by the Chief Minister of the KwaZulu government that those people were trained so that they can protect our officials. I wonder why the ANC is crying about 200 people that were trained in that manner when they are training thousands and other governments are training those people. So we at IFP, there's nobody that is interested in training our people. I think the world doesn't like us as Zulus because we are the only group who fought the British and we overpowered them. That's my feeling that the outside world doesn't like us for that reason. With a spear we fought the British Army.

POM     The Irish would like you. Definitely.

TS     But that's our feeling because we don't get the support as Zulus from the outside world. But if the ANC goes, who are Xhosas mostly, they support them. And I always tell myself, maybe I'm right or wrong, that is just because the Zulus fought the British Army and we won the battle, that is why we are hated. There's no reason for crying why did those people be trained because they were going to protect our officials and nobody else was going to train them. Even if we said to the Americans, "Please train 500 guys for us today to look after our people or even Shabalala or anybody", they won't agree except if the ANC goes, they will agree. And some of the things that have been mentioned are false. I believe the guy Mboweni who also gave some evidence was working us, he turned around and even at the court it was clear that he was lying. The ANC were using him.

POM     Do you think that Buthelezi was hurt by all these allegations?

TS     Not at all.

POM     Not in this area?

TS     Not at all. Those allegations made us gain more support. That is why even if there are elections tomorrow we are not afraid of it, we are ready for it. We are not afraid of elections.

POM     Just talking about elections, given what you say about the level of violence in Natal in general, is there any way you could have free and fair elections conducted in Natal in the next six months?

TS     I don't think in the next six months. I can say maybe next year, late next year, August/September next year. Late next year I can say. But, why I am saying that is that is the moment the people (will be ready) they haven't learnt politics yet. That is why I say in six months time I don't think it can work, the violence is still high. We have to bring the violence down first and then go for elections.

POM     So that if CODESA resumed and somehow an agreement emerged for an interim government and an election for a Constituent Assembly with God knows what kind of special majority required to pass, is it your belief that it would be really foolish to try and have an election in the short run for an Assembly like that?

TS     I won't say it's foolish, what it means mostly is violence. If CODESA resumes now the main thing those organisations, that's my personal opinion, should do is stop violence first because we cannot work or think about the future, the constitution, this and that, when people are dying. But I think the first thing they must do is to stop violence, then we go for other things, interim government or whatever. And those people who are negotiating in CODESA must learn about give and take. Nobody must go in there with a mind of saying, "I want all these people to do what I'm saying". They must compromise.

POM     What kind of government for South Africa would you like to see and one that you will feel comfortable living with and what kind of government will you not feel comfortable with and might even feel compelled to fight?

TS     I would like to see a government, a political party government, where all groups are represented in that government. I will feel happy with that proposal but I don't know how it will work, which as State President de Klerk said, where they have three Presidents in turn.

POM     A rotating presidency?

TS     That's right. I will prefer that type of a government and a federal system. I will prefer that. And if you come to which government I will fear, if the ANC can become a government tomorrow, if they can win the election and if it becomes a one-party state, I fear that because people like me will be on the firing squad list with people being killed in firing squads definitely. There's nothing worse that we have seen like necklacing people. That is not enough. They will also have firing squads. So I don't like to see a one-party state government or an ANC government where they can just say on their own and nobody - that's why I say I prefer multi-party government.

POM     Does the IFP feel very strongly on a federal government?

TS     That's right.

POM     Do you think that if there was not to be a federal government that Dr Buthelezi would move to make KwaZulu an independent state, that he would not become part of a unitary South African state?

TS     In fact I cannot comment. He can say, as we have said many times, that decisions will be taken in CODESA and KwaZulu government must be represented in CODESA and the King must be represented. Any decisions that will be taken or any government that will emerge from those discussions when the Zulus were not involved, he won't be part of that and KwaZulu won't be part of those laws. I think that we won't be involved in any government formed if we are not represented in the negotiations. They can come up with any type of government tomorrow. If we are not involved in those decisions making they won't affect us. We will stand on our own.

POM     OK. Thank you.

PAT     It's quiet here. Peaceful.

TS     Coming here from the township, at least here you can breathe and talk and if you see a child you can say, "This is a child". But in the township you see a boy come running you don't know whether he's got a gun in his pocket or whether he's coming to shoot you or what. But not here. I have no problem.

     You buy a card, you don't have a meter like this one. You just buy your own card. If you've only got R20-00 you buy a R20-00 card. If it's R5-00, R5-00. You use it, you just put it in your machine to get your light and it goes like a petrol gauge. You see it going down, going down. It comes to a red light, it's finished. You have to run and buy some more, another one.

POM     Kwa-Mashu, why is there so much violence down there and so little in Lindelani?

TS     I can say the children, there are too many of these comrades, as they call themselves. They call comrades 'makabane'(?) in other words, these little ANC youth. They are the ones who are causing problems and the parents have lost control of their children in that area, not like here. The parents here they still have control over their children.

POM     But do the parents here insist that the children go to school?

TS     That's right and if a parent wants to hit a child he can hit a child here. But there in Kwa-Mashu you can't hit a child. The children are telling the parents what to do. That's the difference. There the children are ruling the place and here the parents are ruling the place. Parents in that area they fight for their children.

PAT     Parents fight for their children?

TS     They fight for their children. A parent can't hit a child in Kwa-Mashu.

POM     How did that situation develop?

TS     It was developed by the people and those organisations there at that time, the UDF, where they told the children that their parents have to run the country or overpower the government so you people must take over now. You mustn't listen to your parents any more now. They told the children that and the children started to be very rude.

PAT     So the organisation took the role of the parents?

TS     That's right. If a parent hits one child there, that child will go out crying and tell the other children and they will all come and kill the parents.

POM     Are there still school boycotts in effect or are children going to school?

TS     They do go to school but they go in just because they were told to go back to school. They go to school, they go in 8 o'clock in the morning, sit for one hour, they go out and another group comes in. Up and down like that all day in Kwa-Mashu.

POM     What role does Harry Gwala play in the ANC in this area?

TS     He's got no role here. He's the Regional Chairman of Pietermaritzburg, the area next to where you are going tomorrow. He's the chairman in that area. So the children like him a lot because he talks violence all the time. I don't know why he preaches violence because he is crippled, he cannot even fight. He's telling the children to go and get killed, the children must cause violence.

PAT     When will they finish?

TS     September. It's very nice. Another one there.

POM     Has Lindelani got a Town Council, an elected Town Council?

TS     No we don't have a Council.

POM     What's the local government structure? Who does it come under?

TS     It comes under KwaZulu government but I am the local leader.

PAT     Are you the Administrator?

TS     Yes.

POM     So you talked about having moved your offices. Your offices for the administration of Lindelani were downtown in Durban?

TS     No that was my private office. It had nothing to do with the government. It was my private office.

POM     Are you a lawyer?

TS     No I'm not. [That is ... the ANC area. The river is ...] There are a lot of fights there with the squatters next to them and those people. They were all ANC members and they started fighting each other. Now the guys are changing, turning IFP.

PAT     They join the IFP?

TS     Yes.

PAT     They used to be ANC?

TS     Yes. Now they are fighting again.

POM     Are there tensions between people who would occupy houses and squatters? Like just between people who have their little houses and people who would just come along and live beside them in a shack? Does that create tensions?

TS     It does. It does really especially in the townships like Kwa-Mashu and Umlazi. You never saw this place when you came here?

PAT     No. This is the Training Centre?

TS     It's a Training Centre, yes. We are taking it over now. It was being run by Murray & Roberts, so now it's going to be given to the community. We are going to run it on our own. The government is going to give us funds to pay salaries for the people working here. We have enough time, I'm going to show you where they are learning. We train them in sewing, dressmaking, then they open their own business.

PAT     Terrific. And who used to own this?

TS     Murray & Roberts. The funds that we got to build this place came from the Department of Manpower.

POM     That's the KwaZulu government?

TS     No, central government. So we managed to put up this clinic here and the equipment we have in it was donated by the British government. [From the bush coming to where we are now it's a great ...]

PAT     Is this your home? Were you born in this area?

TS     No, I wasn't born here. I was born in Ladysmith. Right up country, next to Jo'burg.

PAT     When did you come here?

TS     We arrived here in 1952.

PAT     Your family?

TS     Yes. My father got a job here in Durban.

PAT     That's quite an accomplishment.

TS     Most of the people, you see the squatters like that now, they are settled on permanent stands, they've bought the place, they've got title now. It's only that once they have funds. It's only this side where we are going to develop very soon. When they have funds they can put up better houses. Over here it hasn't been done yet.

POM     Do you help them get the funds?

TS     I try my best but with the government also things are very bad. The economy is going down in this country.

POM     How many refugees would you have here in this area?

TS     I've got over 8000.

POM     Eight thousand?

TS     Yes. All here. Refugees, refugees. I couldn't fish down there. They wanted to kill me down there and I had to request my Circuit Inspector to bring me up here, any Inkatha stronghold, because as an Inkatha member I was supposed to be killed.

POM     So your high school is just right here?

TS     It's here. Yes it is here because it is accommodating all the Inkatha people and the Inkatha refugees.

PAT     And the refugees.

TS     That's right.

POM     How many refugees again?

TS     Oh, there are so many. Very many.

PAT     These are people who moved here rather than to the townships?

TS     People who moved from the townships and also from different places, outskirts, they come here because this place is Inkatha stronghold. And they always accuse him for nothing. He only arrived here about three weeks ago. They wanted him to burn a complete necklace on a house.

POM     Thomas, how many? Did you say eight thousand?

TS     About eight thousand.

POM     And they're not just here?

TS     Not only here.

POM     In the whole of Lindelani?

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.