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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

04 Aug 1993: Mzizi, Abraham and Gertrude

Click here for more information on the Interviewee - Abraham

Click here for more information on the Interviewee - Gertrude

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Have things being getting worse Gertrude, since my last visit?

GM     No, they're getting worse.

POM     What was happening to cause that?

GM     A group of ANC Youth League Phola Park residents attacked the area from Nkaki Street. The attack lasted for three hours.

POM     Last night?

GM     Not last night, today in the afternoon.

POM     Were there any police there?

GM     They arrived after one hour.

POM     After one hour?

GM     Mmh. So there was gunfire exchange.

POM     Is there going to be a big funeral of the six children who were found in the hostel? Don't you know about that?

GM     People found in the hostel when?

POM     Six children.

GM     Which hostel? In our hostels here there has never been any child who was abducted and found in the hostel.

POM     Like I was going to say the Peace Secretariat ...

GM     Six children? I haven't heard of that. Maybe there's a funeral, but one thing which people must bear in mind is that it's something in fashion that people were found in the hostel. That is why sometimes we cannot combat ... I'm also part of that thing which is there, that is one of the major reasons why we decided to withdraw ...

POM     Why you decided to withdraw?

GM     We decided to withdraw totally from monitoring, we are no longer a part of it.

POM     You are not? Because your name is still down there.

GM     The monitors' vehicles are being stopped; people are being asked of their political affiliations, they tell them that they are looking for IFP monitors. Sunday morning, two IFP monitors were confronted by a group of 30 people armed with AK47s. They asked them of their political affiliations, they told them that they were looking for IFP. They told them that they are not IFP members; they said we are releasing you now and we want you to tell us where is the body of the late Mr Shozi kept. They had to tell them at gunpoint that the body is kept at Suka Funeral Parlour. At 10 o' clock three AK47 men, they came into the mortuary the took the body, the forced the driver of the hearse to put the body inside and drive away with them. The body is missing now. That body is not yet buried, it was supposed to be buried Sunday 12 o'clock.

POM     But what had happened to him?

GM     We don't know, we don't know what happened to the body.

POM     How did he get killed in the first place?

GM     Two weeks ago there was a COSAS meeting where they were discussing that they were going to attack his house and burn him alive. The matter was reported to the Westvaal, Westvaal got hold of COSAS officials. They said, "Yes, the meeting was there but we distance ourselves from those things". Friday, a week ago his house was attacked, he was in Natal, and Saturday again it was attacked again. On his way back from Natal when he got out of a taxi at BP garage, they just grabbed him and burned him on the ground there. So his body was taken by the police to the government mortuary. We were threatened that we were not going to bury him here, if we bury him they threatened us that there will be some ambushes somewhere or they're going to exhume the body and take the body away. Eventually they succeeded to take the body from the mortuary. So many things are happening now. We don't even know what to do. The whole monitoring system that is there, we had to withdraw. One ANC member came there, he threatened us, he told us that ANC and MK can finish IFP within 20 minutes. So we don't see any use for us to be there.

POM     They all go home at 6.00 and they don't go out monitoring.

GM     No, we don't monitor at night, monitoring is not done at night.

POM     So the absence of traffic was very noticeable, there were no Kombi's there when we went down. I was trying to visit a family in Ext 2, where you turn left at the Methodist Church. We were stopped there by two men who obviously had arms and asked who we were and searched the boot of the car. Is that the start of the ANC area at that point?

GM     Where were you?

POM     Where the Methodist Church is.

GM     Yes, Methodist Church normally is a "slaghuis". That's where "people's court" is being held. Many bad things are happening in there.

POM     In the church?

GM     In the church. The church is no longer a place where one can go and pray. That's where meetings are held, attacks are being discussed, that's where people are being given lashes, sentences are being passed there. There's nothing we can do now, there's nothing we can do. It's even difficult to talk about the whole situation, because it's attacks everyday, media information distortion, many other things, propagandistic lies behind everything. That is why it is very difficult to solve the problems. I remember the other day when I was at my job, there was another woman who came there to report that her son is abducted. The other person said he's in Buyafuthi Hostel and the other person said he's not in Buyafuthi Hostel he's kept somewhere in Mavimbela. So we focused on Buyafuthi Hostel, there was no person in Buyafuthi Hostel. Eventually we had to follow this information of Mavimbela. We went to Mavimbela and we found him in Mavimbela. His hands were tied at the back, and there was also some clothing which was put inside his mouth. So that is why we do have problem. You'll hear people from far away, in the morning they will say we were attacked by hostel people. I don't know what labels do they have these people from the hostel, because they are people like us, you can even see that they are people, there's no difference. Or maybe they are wearing a different perfume from other people. We live here we don't see them coming out, we live harmoniously with them, we've been living here for quite a long time. We see people from somewhere else, they come here to attack them and when they go out everybody is now going to make noise about hostel people.

     And this sinister "third force", that is why I said there is nothing we can do now, we are sick and tired of everything. If it's war, undeclared war, that which we can feel, let it be war and everybody can just arm with whatever he has and fight. Every time, and again it's IFP people are being killed, it's a third force. In 1991 sixteen people were killed right on the spot, it was the "third force", people trained in Phalaborwa and Caprivi Strip. The "third force" was arrested, the ANC members from Phola Park, IFP witnesses, eye-witnesses were denied the right to go there and give evidence. They were even stabbed outside the court. But no one stood up and said look at the "third force". Mavimbela is not a hostel, it used to be IFP strong-hold. So all IFP members there were attacked, houses were burned, they were chased out. And what happened is that all those empty houses are being occupied by the "comrades". That's where people are being put in, they abduct people and they put people inside those houses. Mavimbela is not a hostel. In Katlehong a hostel is Buyafuthi, Kwesini and Masibukwe. Here in Thokoza a hostel is 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 was demolished in 1990, it was next to Phola Park.

POM     The police have thrown their lot with the ANC?

GM     With their actions it seems as if they are trying to give right of way to ANC when it's attacking. Because even on Saturday the attackers were from that side. And these people in this area and in the hostels they had to go out and fight. When the police Casspir arrived the people who were attacking they fled into this area. They didn't follow them but they shot to that side and killed one man.

POM     What happened to two women who were hidden on Saturday and who'd been burned?

GM     Taking refuge at the hostel.

POM     They are now living now at the hostel?

GM     They are living in the hostel.

POM     And did the Red Cross bring in food?

GM     Not yet. It was a very long process with Red Cross. It brings food after five or six days.

POM     Is the PAC strong in any part of this area, like in Ext 2?

GM      Yes, PAC is existing but it doesn't have that much support. And one thing about PAC is that PAC is not engaged in this black on black violence. They've got their own problems, settler problems, they've got nothing to do with the black life, they respect the black life. The only conflict is IFP/ANC conflict. You know the whole thing is just madness, and it was given time to happen, in fact it was allowed to happen. Now it has reached a stage where no one will stop. That is why I say it's even sickening to talk about it. Nothing that one can gain out of talking about the whole thing, what happened. I had my own beautiful house, I had my own mini buses, I lost all those things. We tried the utmost best we can to bring peace to the people. But the other party is not doing it. ANC doesn't attend meetings. In the whole system of monitoring they make sure that they send only two local reps, because there is a remuneration of R100 per shift. Some other people from Hillbrow, Daveyton, somewhere, if there was a problem where ANC local people are needed for assistance, you are not going to find those people. You're going to be told that we have got people from Daveyton who don't even know the area. So we could see that many things are done deliberately. And in the whole monitoring they are not monitoring they are surveying; this house belongs to IFP, this house belongs to IFP members, this house belongs to IFP member. So we are sick and tired of everything, I don't even want to talk about it. We must sit down and plan what is it that we can do to defend our property and our lives. No more talking to people about it, it won't help. Since 1990 it has been in our midst.

POM     ???

GM     We will have to, we will have to. We will use whatever we have at our disposal to protect our lives. You can use a kettle of boiling water and throw it at the attacker and protect yourself. If you've got a firearm you can use it. The whole thing makes me sick. You talk to this journalist, that journalist, that journalist about the whole thing. You know, it's going to be something which is in your brain. You have nothing else to think or nothing else to do except for talking about this thing, which is not going to be solved. It is a political thing which people are just ignoring. They turn the blind eye on the perpetrators, and a deaf ear and a dumb mouth. But on the side of the victim, that's where they open up the eyes, the mouth and the ear. It makes me very sick. Now we don't bury people, people are being abducted, they are shot, they are burnt to death, it's only bones remaining, we don't know where they are. There are many of them. Sometimes them can leave the house in the morning and go to work; that person will never come back, you'll run around with hospitals, you'll run around with police station, you'll go to the mortuaries, you'll never discover that body. So it's something which makes me really very sick. I want to take it out of my mind and do something else.

POM     But you can't live in the middle of it.

GM     I live here but and I'm not going to leave. I left that place because it was on fire. I'm not going to leave this one.

POM     You left that one next door?

GM     I was living up there next to the stadium in 1990.

POM     Next to the stadium?

GM     I left that house in 1990. In 1990 it was attacked it was more than ten times with petrol bombs, hand grenades, being stoned until 1990 the 31st of November when it was attacked, the furniture was looted, everything was set alight, it was set ablaze. I left that area. That is why I say the whole thing of violence makes me sick. I don't want to talk about it. It was allowed to go on for a long time. And now there is no-one who can do anything about it. The police don't even care. If you alert the police that there are rumours that there is going to be an attack, they don't do anything about it, they let it happen. The only thing they enjoy is to come into the township and collect dead bodies and sjambok people if they meet people in the street. This morning at seven o'clock I stopped the police Casspir on Schoeman Road, there were men who were wielding AK47s on the other side there, they just looked at me they didn't even care, they just left.

     So talking about the whole thing, I don't think I enjoy it because I could see there's nothing you can do about it. We keep on talking, and talking and talking about it. We end up being media consumptions about the whole thing, violence, violence, violence. Children don't go to school. Those people who don't go to school they are the fathers and mothers of tomorrow. And it is only the black nation in South Africa. Indians are going to school, whites are going to school, Coloureds are going school. In the township we don't have schools. We look at the teachers who are toyi-toying on strike. After the strike of the teachers it is the students themselves, after the students themselves it is the eruption of violence. What are we going to do with these kids? Another illiterate society, that which is going to be the worst than the one we have here?

POM     Do people get shot now on their way going to work?

GM     Going to work and coming back from work, it happens everywhere. You know the main reason why I say I don't want to talk about it, it makes me sick, it works in my mind, I want to do something else? In 1990 when the war started, it was a political war which was ethnicised. It was IFP/ANC conflict, ANC denied IFP the right to exist. They did not want to be opposed, they were fighting AZAPO, they were fighting PAC, they were fighting IFP. The major reason why now they are still in conflict it's because IFP was one and only which stood up and resisted. Eventually that thing was made a Zulu/Xhosa war because Mandela is a Xhosa, Buthelezi is a Zulu. And the whole strategy was to make hostel people and the township people to fight. The Civic Association was used by ANC, it was a vehicle of the ANC, to make sure that township residents and hostel residents are fighting. The major reason was people who were in the hostels were male Zulus and these Zulus are politically illiterate like many people in the township, we are politically illiterate. Those people are supporting IFP because it's lead by their traditional leader so they couldn't use them. ???'s husband is abducted.

POM     Is being abducted this evening?

GM     Right now when you arrived here.

AM     She last saw her husband at ???'s home, he was with relatives, he's got actually two wives. He was on his way to the second wife, probably she doesn't know, it was five o'clock then, and the message came now. There's a possibility that he might have arrived home, probably on his way back abducted. Or he was still on his way down to Nkaki Street, abducted along the route. One does not know what was happening. But I'm sure the news should have moved rapidly, if he came this way he must have reached his house now. So the SADF members just arrived on their way to conduct a search. We might still find him alive but if the ANC got hold of you your chances are 99,99% that you'll not be found alive. If not found, probably half dead.

GM     These days it's worse, you won't even find where he was. They take you, they burn you to ashes, no-one will ever have any trace of where you were. Mrs Mtshali, we went to Phola Park, you know, we managed to find those bones because a news reporter was there when everything was happening and she was asking, "You read the newspaper." While we were still for Mrs Mtshali we read the newspaper about an IFP female leader who was abducted. They abducted her from Katlehong, her house is in Katlehong in Zuma Section, they find her to Phola Park with a bakkie. Her breasts were cut into pieces, were eaten, she was stabbed, she was burned many times. That news reporter was there waiting. She said she was even scared to leave, she thought they said the same thing would happen to her. We had to go there and we could see that these are the bones of a human being, and we found her shoe and her skirt which was partly burnt. That was the only thing which made us to believe that these bones in a "Zibi" can are her bones. In a dustbin we found only this part and the panties, and the left-hand shoe and a skirt which was partly burnt. Because this reporter said they were taking clothes out of her body, she was stabbed with spears, many bad things were done to her. Snuff was put into her eyes, spears were put right inside her eyes, and the world is just silent. No-one is going to say anything. The only thing they are interested in is taking pictures of Zulus if they go out to launch a retaliatory attack.

     And every time and again you'll hear people complaining about hostels, hostels. What went wrong these people have been together with these people for decades, what went wrong? These hostels here they were built in 1958. This township was built in 1959. Where we are living now was a Coloured township, the black people were living there in Sotho Section. Hostel Nos. 4 and 5 were built in 1960s, it was just an open space there. There has never been any conflict between these people. In the township they were using the "bucket system", there was no electricity, the electricity was only at the hostel, with hot showers. All those boys which were born in 1959 used to go and have hot shower there at the hostel. Now their children are being organised to attack these people. That was a place, on Saturday, where everybody used to go there and watch the traditional dancing. But no-one wants to think what went wrong. It's a political thing.

     You know, in the township there's always the problem if there's a Zulu hostel, but if there's a Xhosa hostel there's no problem. Why? Is it because these people are good? They're not good, it's because no one made a plan, no one worked it out that there must be a conflict between these two people. We were taken out of our houses, sent to the stadium, being told that we should arm and fight Zulus, we should arm and fight the hostel people. In Bekkersdal there's a Xhosa hostel, it's mainly ANC, you'll never hear any complaints. Even if those people can go into the township and do anything, you'll never hear them complain. The only hostels which they are focusing at are Zulu hostels. Sebokeng, Zulus were driven out that hostel, or of Sebokeng Town Council. Xhosas were brought from Transkei into that hostel. No one complained, there's never been any march that that hostel should be demolished. But no-one asks that question, "Why is it happening, why is it happening now?" So we keep on saying the same thing and we don't see any good, we don't see the results. It seems as if you just say it and it's gone.

AM     What I can actually say is that one white said, "How can we survive?" One white probably said, "If Chief Buthelezi as well as Mr Mandela could be seen together running rallies". I don't think that possibly it will save anyone or make anyone taking a good taste out of it. Because they will be seen together in one rally, probably in Natal, they'll be seen together in probably one rally in the Transvaal and elsewhere. But as they move out of rally there'll be clashes. One will be saying, "Did you hear your leader was talking nonsense?" That's my perception, I'm not saying people would say but that's my perception. One will be saying to the other one "Your leader was talking nonsense."

GM     What happened in 1990 August? When His Majesty the King of the Zulus and Chieftain Ndamase, the Paramount Chief of Transkei, were here at the stadium, what happened? Xhosas didn't go, they said they will never listen to that bloody nonsense Zulu King. And the man was there, his people were not there. Zulus were there and the King was there and the King addressed his people. Ndamase had no crowd to address, they said they will not go there. What they want they want to drive Zulus out of the cities or out of Reef. The very same night Zulus were attacked. That is not going to work.

AM     Now, the only solution which I have is that people should focus on the cause of the whole thing and the cause yet, it is not known up until now. And unless that can be fully addressed then there'll be no peace.

POM     What's the cause?

AM     The cause was that people were told right from the start of the UDF, that when Mr Mandela came out of jail there should be no any other organisation existing other than ANC. How they were going to do it? They will have to intimidate people, they will have to harass people. What I mean by people, now I talk of the community, the society, all black society, so that they have one organisation. This message was given to the irresponsible society which are kids who don't even know, some of the kids don't even actually listen to their parents to a higher starting point. Now, those people haven't been told that now we are entering into negotiations and you must change from the direction you were going, take a new direction. They are still holding on to that.

GM     And another was ungovernability, where people were told to make the ungovernable. And they were not told that where you live, as the oppressed, you should not make it ungovernable. Go in town where the oppressors are, disrupt everything there, disrupt whatever, anything they have there. They were told to make it ungovernable here, us, not the oppressors. The people who were told to do that ungovernability are just youngsters, they are still holding on to the whole thing. So we have problems.

AM     [Now, probably if a region where everybody would be called he's got the two leaders.] Call his grassroots together and put the message right across to them and laying the question to their minds. Do you want to go on killing one another? If you kill one another or if you want to hold on to that for what purpose? There are good examples that the President of IFP, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has said in the past. That some of us, not actually some of us, everybody in South Africa they're chasing an animal. If we talk of animals remember we're talking of a game, something that you can eat, whilst they are chasing this game, one says I want the thigh, one says I want the neck, one says I want this, choosing, choosing the limbs whilst the animal still runs. Now, the argument is ensued whilst they were chasing this animal and a fight ensued right there. They are fighting over this animal which they haven't actually got hold of. They'll fight and kill one another right there on the spot and the animal will disappear and dissolve in thin air. By the time they are finished fighting they will look around there won't be the animal.

     And that's freedom we talk about, that's democracy we talk about. By the time we realise that, "Hey, what are we doing, what are we fighting for?" there will be no country to live on, there will be no economy to depend on, there will be nothing to fall back on. Unless people change, and if you talk to the grassroots, point out these things to them. We are right here in this apartment, you'll be going back to America, you'll be telling people there, some will laugh at you, some will listen tentatively to you, some will say, "How do you know these things?", some will ask you, "How did you get close to a hostel, didn't they attack you?" They'll be asking a lot of questions. But you are the better man, patently you know both sides. You have seen what a township looks like. But those are the natural things that need to be done. Unless we do that I don't see any way out.

POM     Is it possible in this area to get people at grassroots to sit down together?

AM     I have told the man who is our newly appointed Peace Secretariat, Peter Harris, I said, "Peter whether we like it or not, we will have to call a mass meeting. And we should not call it on a Sunday, we should not call it on a Saturday, we should not call it on a holiday when people would have taken some of the beverages that are so much intoxicating, they'll be speaking in many languages. We will have to go and say on such and such a day no person will be coming to work, we would like to have a meeting. Each town must have that kind of a meeting. Talk to people, people are tired, what harasses people now is fear and mistrust. But if they can be called together probably would say right at the back of his or her mind that people are going to kill one another on that day. But I'm telling you people will go there and come back have completely changed and they would be again into their minds. Everyone going into the hostel or into a house he is not sure or she is not sure that I'll come out alive. But once that can be held I'm sure peace will be restored and people will stand up and start telling the truth because these are the kids that are doing these things not the adult people, very few adults. I shall welcome this." In this sense that when a child comes back home with some looted things, fridge and many other things, then the parent actually welcomes this and says, "Why did you take so little, why didn't you take more?" Do you think that child will grow up in good, right way? Some parents are actually cherishing that this will continue. You see your child carrying an AK47, what do you say, what registers into your mind? Do you think the child is going in right way? Those are the things that are there.

POM     I think if we can address these ...

AM     If that meeting can take place, I told you, you said you were going to the ANC. In the LDRC(?) meetings I've told the ANC and then you said to me I say they don't think the circumstance is conducive to hold such a meeting. I said you are misleading people if you can tell them that this is necessary, I'll go there in that meeting, not as an IFP member, I'll go into that meeting as a resident of this township and negotiate with them and I'm sure we'll hear about everything. It will not be a meeting that has been called by IFP or by ANC or by anybody else but the residents called a meeting and discussed their differences.

POM     Do you think that Chief Buthelezi will return to the Negotiating Forum or will stay out unless his demand is met that the IFP have an equal veto to the ANC and the government?

AM     Well Patrick, it is difficult to decide for the leaders or suggest what they should do and what they should not do. But I think there are weapons that one should think of when doing things. It is pointless if you say to me, "Abraham, let us talk. Can we change that door and bring it here inside west rather than facing east?" I say to you, "Whether you like the door facing that or that way I am going to go ahead and build this house and the door will face this way whether you are there whether you are not there". Now, do you think this is feasible and advisable to stand and become part and parcel of that decision whilst you'll be folding your hands, whilst you'll be probably giving your input and it's not going to be at all accepted. It's like going into a trial when the magistrate has already pre-judged and gave his sentence already. You are talking he's not even writing, he's holding his hands. After the talk he says, "You are sentenced to death". Then you say, "Any mitigation?" Then he says, "Yes, what do you want to say?" Then you say, "I've got children, I've got that and that". Then he says, "Thank you, take him down". That's the type of trial which the IFP stands to be there. We'd rather get out and give our input. The more we see we'd rather be talking about that one now, our draft of the constitution which we thought it would suit everybody in the Republic of South Africa, which was a federal one. That federal draft was never read, was never put onto a desk. Now, what would serve any purpose if what we are saying with the ANC?

POM     You were saying federalism was never ...?

AM     That's right. It was not read, was not even put onto test. Now we feel we will have to make some means, some sort of mechanism in which we can have a drive that this draft, this is the people on the ground. It's pointless to take it to the one who is anti. Because we know, it seems as if even a draft that is now being put into place, that needs to be discussed there's so many flaws in it. Now, if you are talking of something that is not fish nor fowl and you don't know, it's not a chicken or fish and you don't know what are you going to eat. At least if they had two of these drafts they could have probably selected, "Alright, this is going to this side, this is bad this side, this is good", and have a good mixture. The rest probably would have been accepted, but they made sure that, "Let's not bring this one into discussion". The draft that they had, I'm sure you are aware how many bilateral meetings, the "bush meetings", the government and the ANC have had. And there is speculation that that negotiation started some way back when he was still in Robben Island. He used to visit them, he used to talk to them. What they were discussing no-one knows.

GM     No, the man managed to escape, he's in his house now. The Internal Stability and some of the people from the hostel are going to his house to fetch him back.

POM     This is the man whose ...?

GM      Yes, because that house was also attacked with AK47s.

POM     This is the house of the second wife?

AM     That was the first wife.

GM      Yes. The first wife. The one who was here is the second wife.

AM     So those are the things that actually keep us out. If that draft can be read, I don't see any reason why people there can't read it. But if it's just going to be swept under the carpet, and then I don't see any reason why should we go there.

POM     What do you think the IFP don't find a way of getting back into negotiations or their demands are not met in some sort of satisfactory way, do think this going to lead to an escalation of violence?

GM     Pulling out of IFP from the negotiating table has got nothing to do with violence. Violence was already there and it doesn't even have an impact on the people on the ground. And the mandate is given by the IFP members at the congress, that we'd rather pull out rather than to be there and right in this which we don't like. When we are at the negotiating table our proposals are not even allowed to be put on the table for discussion and we are simply told that, whether we like it or not, the thing must move on. And we are being told of this thing of sufficient consensus, we don't know what does it mean? If four or five parties don't agree, then it's insufficient consensus there. What is it that is needed? [you want to get the ... on the ten sufficient consensus.]

POM     So do you think that even if everybody goes back to the negotiating table and they arrive and it seems that the violence is still continuing ...?

GM     It is still going to continue and the major problem is that people are being deceived, they are told that the new government is going to give them houses, jobs and everything. Where is that new government going to get all those things from? The government is just like a woman on the stove cooking and serving people with food and that pot is not big enough to supply the whole family, the whole family will have to get little if they have. The only thing we are striving for is equal opportunity. Not that there's anyone who's going to get more than the other, there's not even more. Even if Mandela can take over and rule the country he's not going to solve the housing problem now, the illiteracy problem now, the jobless problem now. He's even going to die before he's even solved.

POM     That you know, to just hear the ladies talk of violence, you know, what the main recipe in curing this violence if we continue saying we are going to have elections on the 27th of April without a constitution now it's happening now. All the towns, all the rural areas there'll be one who says by the time the elections come, because the constitution will be drawn by the majority, we'll make sure that we threaten people, we intimidate people, we claim the territory, we must know control the territory, all those type of things, people will now rampage because there's no constitution that governs whoever is going to take over or whoever will come into place.

GM     It's ridiculous in a situation like we are in now, where a Constituent Assembly should be elected and those people will be writing the constitution. Do you think that is going to be fair for the IFP to write the constitution of the country alone? The ANC cannot. It is just like saying to the dog which is biting, "Muffle your mouth". That cannot happen. The ANC constitution is going to favour ANC, the IFP constitution is going to favour IFP, the Nationalist constitution is going to favour the Nationalists, the CP, whatever party is going win the majority is going to make its own constitution. Our belief is that all those parties which are there they must bring their proposals or their draft constitution and everything is consolidated by the constitutional experts. And thereafter there is a national referendum, people must accept that constitution.

AM     AWB must also give consent.

GM     Everybody must be involved and whatever party which is going to rule. Because what we want, we don't want the Westminster system, we want the proportional representation because we know in this proportional representation there are going to be some coalitions and the party that must win or those people who will be there in that system of proportional representation, they are the people who must rule the country. They must implement the constitution which was written by everybody in the country, all the representatives, all parties, not the constitution of one party. Now we don't even know what is it that we are going to elect on the 27th. An interim government, Constituent Assembly, the government? And there has never been time for people in South Africa, for parties in South Africa to campaign. People don't even know what parties will manifest in the new South Africa. They just go party, party. Even in the Nationalist or the CP, people who have been long exposed to South African politics now they have lost direction. The Nationalists don't know what is it that De Klerk has to offer to the country if he takes over.

AM     You see what confusion now has been brought, so we are totally lost and I'm sure this is not going to be addressed now, then we are right at the brim of civil war.

GM     They are manipulating the fact that the majority of South African people, which are black, are political. People must just rule, we don't know what we are following. And when IFP is talking about federalism, many people believe that they are talking about federalism because they want Natal, Natal is the stronghold and they want to maintain the status quo. Federalism is good for development. Say, for instance, KwaZulu which has got the largest population, has been underpaid. But all the taxes and all the GST of KwaZulu was paid to Pretoria, and in return Pretoria was underpaying them. [Let every region ...] The central government must only take things like the army, and many other things, but the federal state must govern themselves, they must have a say in their own GNP. The central government must only distribute the national wealth to the federal states, that which is going to be very good for development. How about if in that unitary state Transkei will find itself working for Natal, Natal is going to find itself working for Venda, Bophuthatswana is going to be para-state of Transkei. We want people to rule themselves, we want to bring the government down to the people. We were all complaining about the unitary state of the white apartheid regime so now we want to do the very same thing again. How can I trust the ANC government now in a unitary state? Why now I can see that there are some other benefits which are given to ANC to distribute amongst black people. But those black people must be ANC people.

POM     Do you think if there were a federal constitution adopted tomorrow, would that do anything to stop the violence or whatever?

GM     It won't.

AM     The violence is an item on its own, it must be addressed separately.

GM     No new government can stop this violence. Not now. Even in the new government, the government which we will have will still have the protest marches, we will still have the boycotts, we are still going to have many other things going on. It's going to depend on that government. If that government is going to act like the PW Botha government, those things will stop because in those days of PW Botha when you were toyi-toying in the street they used to come and kill you. So no one wanted to die out there in the street. But I'm telling you, if it is the ANC government PAC, AZAPO and IFP will join hands against that government, there are going to be protest marches. Mandela is going to take over today and we will go to Union Buildings or we will go to Cape Town. You know, the pity of everything is that people were told not to pay for their services, we are in crisis now. Tomorrow at two 'o clock there will be a meeting where we are going to discuss the cut-off, the total black-out in the township. People were told not to pay for their services. In any government, you must pay for the services rendered but accordingly. So people were told not to pay for electricity, not to pay for water, not to pay for sewerage pumping, not to pay for refuse removal, the government has got money. Where does the government take money from? The government takes money from its civilians through tax. People are told to boycott tax, people are told that they must boycott tax, they must protest against the increase of tax. The following day they are told to toyi-toyi for more salary. How do you reconcile less tax and high salary? The lesser the tax all salaries will remain low. The only thing which we are crying for in South Africa is equal opportunity. If we pay tax, all the money that is paid there it must be distributed to the nation equally regardless of their political affiliation, their colour or their creed. This is the only thing, it is very ridiculous to see a learned person with a degree addressing a crowd in the stadium that you don't have to pay for your services, the government has got lots and lots of money. Where does it come from? You don't have to pay tax, the government has money. Where does it come from?

     We have got this nuisance SADTU, which toyi-toyi in the street for the whole month. At the end of the month they want their salaries, but they didn't teach. Why should they be paid while they didn't teach? They don't even allow our children to take the little they have, the little education they have, it's better than nothing. We don't say it's right, it's not right but it is not the right manner in which it is being addressed. People are being pushed, leaders are using the people as their weapons. They fail to sit down and address things to the nitty-gritty of them. They use people, go forward and fight, go forward die. So everybody resorted to marching. In the IFP we don't like marching, we don't like boycotts but everybody is doing it, why don't we do it? As of law and order whilst the SA Police don't maintain that law and order.

POM     Do you think one reason why you don't see any policemen around when incidents happen is because they are afraid?

GM     Not that they are afraid, sometimes they are not informed, sometimes they are informed they just feel like not going there. And another contributory factor is that the police are confused, they don't know what to do. They will go into the hostel and raid the hostel, the IFP is going to say you harassed our members. They will go into the township in IFP stronghold, IFP will accuse them, you harassed our members. So they don't know what to do now, they are right in the middle. But the fact is that those people have been brutal for quite a long time and it's not easy to remove that thing, it's still there. But sometimes when I look at the whole thing it's that they don't know what to do. And the whole violence is going to take quite a long time because we don't have parenting, there's no parenting. We have got the seven-year old kids who are roaming the streets now. One can ask a question, "Where were the parents?" If they get shot there or they are killed, tomorrow it's going to be a lot of march that "Innocent children were killed." But at ten 'o clock they are in the street.

PK     But you know Gertrude, this is a grave of ... right now, and earlier this afternoon at around 4.35 we drove around, we drove into the township. We drove through several roadblocks, we were stopped but at least we saw police sitting at the police station over there but no police ...

GM     They are also dying. As I told you earlier on that sometimes I feel they don't feel like going because they are exposed to petrol bombs and gunfire and when they return fire they are being blamed. Maybe that is one of the reasons, so sometimes they just say, "Let these fools kill themselves."

POM     I thought it was like just a couple of hundred yards down the road where there were roadblocks manned by men who were obviously carrying weapons who asked who you were, where you were going, asked you to open the boot of your car. I mean if they did something illegal would the police come down and stop it?

GM     And what they were doing there, if they found a Zulu they could have killed that Zulu or if they identified anyone to be IFP they could have killed that IFP person. Some of the journalists are even caught up in the crossfire because one of them may try to pass here and they've got nothing to do with politics, they are looking for news and when they got up they were told, "Eh, eh, you are IFP we saw you there." You will try to explain, they won't listen to you. Many journalists were being shot at.

POM     Have many journalists been shot at?

GM     Many of them, many of them. The cameras were taken away from them, the recording machines, many other things. It's just that when things are done by ANC everybody must picture it.

POM     What future do you see for your children?

GM     There's no future. My mother will be going with the other one in Lesotho. I may as well leave the four-year old. My first one is in a boarding school in Nongoma. The second one, this one, a girl, she's in Alberton Primary School, the third one was Maryvale Kindergarten in Pietermaritzburg, it's a Roman Catholic school. So she reacted to the climate there, I had to bring her back in May. I talked to the principal on the other side of Thokoza, Katlehong, she was admitted at the school. She only went there for three weeks and then there was no school.

POM     There was no school?

GM     No. So my mother must take her to Lesotho for school. Maybe next year she's going to get space in town.

PK     What about that one?

GM     This one is still young, he'll be going to preparatory next year. There's no future.

AM     I'm sure you people have been long now in this country, so you visit all the parts of the country now and the main places that you find yourself confined in is Thokoza and the Thokoza hostel. Unfortunately, we haven't succeeded in taking you to other parts of the town to see other hostels.

POM     Well, I'll be here for the better part of the year.

AM     Well, unfortunately the time now and the living conditions in various towns, it is not advisable for you to go to any one now.

POM     Do I just wait a while?

AM      Yes, it will take quite some time before we can probably enjoy in a normal life. This thing is like a mist in a ... When you say it is sunny this side, it is misty that side. And don't think that if it's misty that side it won't come this side. Right now in Thembisa I understood that it's a different thing altogether, but I'm surprised I've not seen it in the news, but people from Thembisa they had to leave very early from work going back.

POM     People from Thembisa?

AM     People from Thembisa working in industrial area, they had to go home very early so as to find ways in before dark.

GM     You know, we were laughing at the whole thing of Thembisa at the meeting. One woman said she drove past Welamlambo and there were kids which were playing there. So she stopped and opened up the window and said, "What are you doing here, why are you playing here because this area is the danger for you. No human being can come closer, it's next to the hostel, no human being can play in this area, no human being can walk around this area because Zulus are going to kill you." And the kids just said, "Mmh, people who are always firing shots are from there, they're going to the hostel. If those people don't come and fire shots at the hostel, they won't come and bother us. We'll only run away when we see people, those people who come out of the township to the hostel. We know that the hostel people when they follow them they may even injure us." She said, "I was very amazed because all the newspapers were saying there's no vehicle that can try to park in that area, there's no person who's around that area but kids were playing there in Welamlambo." So that is how things are being said. Sometimes they talk about hostel, hostel, hostel, IFP, and they forget to focus where the real problem is, they leave where the real problem is, the real problem is somewhere else. And not that they don't know it, they know it but they don't want to talk about it. They say the problem is where it is not.

GM     Did you say thank you? (To her daughter)

PK     Oh yes, she did.

GM     You saved her because she's fighting her sister every time.

PK     Oh, not anymore.

GM     She doesn't have books. All the books are at school, they are locked at school and she can't go there. So when the sister is doing homework, she's going to tell her that, "You think you are better because you are still going to school. In fact you go to school in town, a white school, you hate the township." And she fights.

POM     Her genes must be from you.

GM     No, they are not from me, I'm not a fighter. I don't want to be antagonised. I don't take any nonsense from anyone, I don't take any nonsense from ANC. The other news presenter, they were here from Good Morning South Africa, was there at the shops looking at me. So they said a very big woman was coming, you know tall, well built. And this woman said, "Oh, is that Gertrude Mzizi?" And everybody said, "No, she's not tall, little thing with a big mouth, the only thing big she has is the mouth, her mouth can conquer mountains." It's very difficult living in the township.

POM     You've been living in Thokoza since 1979?

GM      Yes.

POM     When did you first get active in politics?

GM     Since 1979 I've always been an activist, but I didn't like the confrontational politics of the armed struggle and all those things. I supported IFP even when I was in school, that was the party I was admiring. So when I became a South African by marriage that was the first thing I jumped into. I used to go mad about ANC in Angola fighting Savimbi. Those people were there to be trained and come back and fight the SA government. They were fighting on the side of FAPLA forces, fighting UNITA, there were many things which were happening there. I said these people are great.

PK     What politicised you in Lesotho because you're obviously politicised in Lesotho. What made you get into politics in Lesotho because a lot of people in Lesotho are very scared?

GM     I've never been scared, but fortunately I've never been arrested. In fact I was not that mature when Leabua Jonathan took over, I only started after 1970 where I could see many things happening, how the country is being ruled and the other people are out of the country, I wanted them to be back. I just wanted them to be back and sit around the table and settle everything. That's when I started.

PK     What side are you on, IFP?

GM     IFP rejected the confrontational politics, it became the supporter, I didn't support any party in Lesotho per se. The only thing I wanted, I just wanted fairness. I didn't like the manner in which Leabua Jonathan was ruling the country. He was applying nepotism, everything was for the Molapo there. You know, it's Molapo, Motshoene and Jonathan; it is the same family, brothers. So to get a bursary to overseas you were supposed to be the Molapo, the Jonathan or the Motshoeneng. Many bad things were happening, which I could see things are happening. In the government people who were occupying higher posts were not even who were qualified but simply because they were relatives of Leabua Jonathan. And Ntsu Mokhehle won elections and he was robbed. He had to flee the country, and when he was outside the country I just thought maybe the UN would do something to bring him back. I was also against the formation of the Lesotho Liberation Army. The only thing I admired was for the UN to force Leabua Jonathan to accept Ntsu Mokhehle, and give Ntsu Mokhehle his position. And my politics in Lesotho were not of that high standard because economically there is nothing in Lesotho, so politics has got something to do with economics. I've never been scared to express myself but I found nothing attractive. You see here we are fighting for the gold, uranium even the diamonds, we are fighting for many things, valuable things, but in Lesotho we were only fighting for the water. Nothing new except for water and we must just go to the UN and be beggars. So here we stand up because there's something behind us. We want to get that gold from this side and chrome that side. That's something which we are fighting for. So in Lesotho we have nothing.

POM     Thank you very much.

GM     Hey, this thing of violence, people, it makes me sick. Sometimes if I'm here around the house, I go somewhere else or I go to the hostel and sit in the hostel, trying to run away from the journalists. You'll get the Weekly Mail, Sowetan, and I hate the South African media. Local media contributed a lot to this violence by distorting information. They have never had the balanced reporting. It's now of late when they are changing. They are not even completely changed. A journalist goes to the area and takes a story, he doesn't want to go the other side and get the balanced story. I hate South African media. It's just like this thing, you know, in the television there's what they called aftermath, victims of violence. They only show Zulu people stabbing people, they will never show Xhosas stabbing people or shooting people. They will never show ANC, ANC Youth League, putting tyres around other people's necks, burning tyres, they will never. And when they talk to victims of violence they only select ANC victims.

PK     But how do they know they are ANC members?

GM     They know, these people are engaged. The journalists are also members, they are engaged.

PK     Then how do you recognise that a person wandering about might be ANC or IFP?

GM     They know exactly what is happening. These people are born and brought here in the township, there are very few of them. If something has happened on that side, they go and then enquire it's IFP, they just leave something and they go somewhere else. If people will say, "We are ANC", they even take records. You know, my house in 1990 it is the house which sparked the war because Zulus went out and they said, "Enough is enough". That house was in the front page of the Sunday Star of the first week of December and it was said that this is the house of ANC prominent member in the township which was attacked by the hostel people. My own house. IFP people who were from Extension 2 and the hostel, who were working at Rand Water Board, they were on their way to Rand Water Board in the morning. Phola Park people attacked them, they opened fire in that mini bus, they killed nine of the people and others escaped. There come Ike Motsapi of Sowetan, he went to Phola Park, he came back with a story that that mini bus had people with guns who were going to attack people on Phola Park who were going to Angus Station and there were two white people. Those two white people were also killed instantly and they were airlifted with a police helicopter so that no one could see it. The journalists were not even to take their pictures, trying to instigate the racial violence which is not there. You know, we used to run around when this thing was beginning in the township. We used to dash into the hostel, "Hey, hey", there were four white people who were injured in Phola Park, they were attacking Phola Park and they were taken to the hospital. No, those people when they got to the hospital they were not white people, they were not black people, they were white people. What happened? No they had something black on their faces. Even if you can smear a black thing on your face, your features will tell us that this a white person - and your hair.

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.