VolumeTHREE Chapter ONE
Introduction to Regional Profiles
1 The regional profiles provide an overview of gross violations of human rights as they were reported to the Commission, in both chronological and thematic narrative. It was not possible to include every case brought to the Commission; rather the stories that illustrate particular events, trends and phenomena have been used as windows on the experiences of many people.
2 The primary sources for this report are the statements of individual deponents, as well as submissions by political parties, institutes and professional bodies. Reliance has also been placed on the transcripts of the hearings of the Commission – both human rights violations hearings and amnesty hearings – and on the transcripts of in camera hearings. Documentation from Commission enquiries, such as police dockets, court transcripts, inquest findings, post mortem reports and so on have also been used.
3 In presenting these stories, background details have been used to situate the cases in their proper context. Hence, researchers and writers in the Commission have made use of secondary source material. The reports and publications of research institutes and monitoring bodies, both at home and abroad, have been extensively used. Affidavits collected for other enquiries and investigations have been used where they apply to the cases before the Commission. Published monographs, press reports and ‘unrest reports’ of the South African Police (SAP) have been extensively used.
4 Each regional profile is organised chronologically and divided into four distinct periods: 1960–1975, 1976–1982, 1983–1989 and 1990–1994. These periods correspond roughly with patterns of violations and shifts in the nature of resistance and repression in South Africa as identified from the evidence before the Commission.
5 Within each period, violations have largely been considered within one of two groups, namely ‘State and allied groupings’ and ‘Resistance and revolutionary groupings’. While many events and issues defy such divisions and indeed demonstrate a close interaction of violations by each grouping, certain forms of violations were most strongly associated with a particular grouping.
6 ‘State and allied groupings’ comprises reported violations associated with public order policing, detention and torture, covert actions of the security forces and contra-mobilisation. ‘Resistance and revolutionary groupings’ comprises, for the most part, violations perpetrated by such groupings, including attacks on ‘collaborators’, necklacings, armed actions and sabotage, inter-organisational conflict and so forth. Where the history of violations occurring in the mandate period of the Commission was not amenable to these categories (particularly in the 1990s – the years of political transition), a thematic approach has been used.
7 The evidence before the Commission reveals a complex interaction of events. It has been difficult to separate entirely the stories of victims from the stories of perpetrators. For this reason, there is an inevitable degree of overlap between the regional profiles and the chapters on perpetrators in Volume Two of the report.
8 Findings in the regional profiles focus mainly on events or issues that shaped the nature of gross human rights violations in each region. The regional profiles do not, on the whole, make findings on individual cases. Individual findings are to be found in the summary of statements given to the Commission. Because the findings on individual cases have a bearing on the applications for amnesty still pending, these will become available in full at an appropriate time during the continued work of the Amnesty Committee of the Commission. For the purposes of this report, a full list of the names of persons found by the Commission to be victims appears in Volume Five.
9 It should be emphasised that fuller versions of the profiles are available in the documentary archives of the Commission, as are the full transcripts and audio-visual recordings of all the public hearings convened by the Commission and the original versions of all statements and submissions made to the Commission. To facilitate easy retrieval of primary source material, the reference number for each individual case quoted in the profile has been included in brackets.
10 Finally, every attempt has been made to check and recheck the names published in these reports. If there are errors, please forgive us.
This chronology focuses primarily on the mandate period of the Commission, while referring to some significant events which helped shape the years 1960 to 1994. It includes events that are essentially of national significance, and a limited number of events that are of regional significance. In selecting these entries from more detailed regional chronologies, which form part of the Commission's records in the National Archives, an attempt is made to capture the unfolding drama of the South African conflict. The chronology should be consulted in relation to the chapter on Historical Context as well as volumes 2 and 3, which address national and regional events in narrative form.
1899The South African War between Britain and the Boer Republics ends with British victory in 1902.
1910 Union of South Africa comes into being.
1912 South African Native National Congress or SANNC (later African National Congress or ANC) is founded.
1913 The Natives’ Land Act prescribes that no African person be allowed to own land outside designated reserves (approximately 7% of the land is allocated for African people, subsequently increased in 1936 to 13%).
1914 National Party is founded.
1916 Native Affairs Administration Bill confirms segregation.
1918 Formation of Afrikaner Broederbond.
1919 Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) is founded by Clements Kadalie.
1920 The Native Affairs Act creates separate administrative structures for people in African reserves.
South Africa is granted a League of Nations mandate over South West Africa.
1921 Members of the Israelites, an African religious sect, are gunned down by police at Bulhoek in the Eastern Cape.
1922 The Bondelswarts rebellion crushed in South West Africa.
The Rand revolt begins. 214 lives are lost as the strike is crushed.
1923 The Natives (Urban Areas) Act extends segregation to towns.
SANNC becomes the African National Congress (ANC).
1925 Afrikaans is adopted as an official language.
1935 All-African Convention is founded.
1936 The Cape African franchise is abolished.
1941 The African Mineworkers’ Union is formed.
1943 ANC Youth League is formed.
1946 Asiatic Land Tenure Act is passed.
The police crush a strike by African mineworkers.
1947 The Security Branch of the South African Police (SAP) is formed.
1948 The Herenigde National Party (NP) wins a majority of seats. DF Malan becomes Prime Minister.
1949 Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act is passed.
1950 The Group Areas Act provides for areas to be declared for the exclusive use of one particular racial group and makes it compulsory for people to live in an area designated for the group under which they were classified. The Suppression of Communism Act prohibits organisations and people from promoting Communism. Later amendments extend the prohibition to cover any efforts to overthrow the state and provide for the banning of meetings and people, the receiving of donations, the prohibition on people practising law and deportations. The Population Registration Act provides for the classification of all South Africans into one of four racial groups. The Immorality Act prohibits sexual relations across the colour bar.
1951 The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act grants magistrates the power to evict squatters from urban areas and to demolish their dwellings.
1952 The ANC launches the Defiance Campaign.
The Native Laws Amendment Act is enacted. The Abolition of Passes Act introduces reference books for Africans.
1953 The Public Safety Act provides for a state of emergency to be declared. The Minister of Law and Order, the commissioner of the SAP, a magistrate or a commissioned officer can detain any person for reasons of public safety. A magistrate or the commissioner of police can ban meetings and gatherings. (The Act is passed in response to the civil disobedience campaign of the ANC and invoked for the first time after the Sharpville Massacre on 21 March 1960.) The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act is passed. The Bantu Education Act introduces a system of education for African people designed to provide them only with skills that will serve the white economy.
The Communist Party of South Africa dissolves and is reconstituted as the South African Communist Party (SACP).
1954 The Natives’ Resettlement Act marks the beginning of the creation of exclusively African urban townships.
1955 The Freedom Charter is adopted by the Congress of the People in Kliptown, Transvaal.
1956 Coloured voters are removed from the common voters’ roll. The Riotous Assemblies Act prohibits certain public open air gatherings.
The Treason Trial begins. 156 accused are charged with high treason. (The trial continues for five years during which charges are withdrawn against all but thirty-four. They are all acquitted in 1961).
In August, 20 000 women march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the extension of passes to African women.
1957 The Group Areas Act consolidates the law relating to the establishment of group areas and control of the acquisition of immovable property in those areas.
1958 Hendrik F Verwoerd becomes Prime Minister.
1959 The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) is formed under Robert Sobukwe.
The Extension of the University Education Act provides for the segregation of English-language universities and the creation of ethnic universities. The Promotion of Bantu Self-Governing Act lays the foundation for the creation of ‘independent’ bantustans. An amendment to Pass Laws Act extends pass laws to women.
Both the ANC and the PAC initiate protest campaigns against the pass laws.
The Sekhukuneland revolt is crushed, followed by executions of those convicted, including a chieftainess.
1960 Mandate period of Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins
On 21 March, sixty-nine people are killed and 186 wounded at Sharpville when police open fire on marchers protesting against the pass laws.
In Cape Town, two people are killed and 47 wounded in Langa when police open fire on a crowd of anti-pass protestors. At the end of March, a group of 30 000 people march from Langa to Cape Town in protest.
A national state of emergency is declared on 24 March, lasting until 31 August. 11 503 people are detained. PAC leader Sobukwe is sentenced to three years for burning his pass.
The ANC and the PAC are banned on 8 April.
The African Resistance Movement (ARM) is formed by mainly young radical whites and launches a sabotage campaign.
The Pondoland Revolt by Transkei peasants against the Bantu Authorities Act is crushed by police shootings, detentions and torture, trials and executions.
The South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) is formed.
South Africa’s alleged contravention of SWA mandate is taken to the International Court.
1961 The Indemnity Act indemnifies the government, its officers and all other persons acting under its authority and empowered to suppress internal disorder from civil or criminal proceedings. (The Act is made retrospective from 21 March 1960).
Following South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, the first steps are taken to establish a military intelligence component in the South African Defence Force (SADF).
On 31 May, South Africa becomes an independent Republic and leaves the Commonwealth.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to ANC President, Chief Albert Luthuli, in October.
ANC and PAC missions-in-exile open in Tanzania.
Poqo, armed wing of the PAC, is formed in September.
Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC, is formed. MK launches its first sabotage actions on 16 December, the first in a series of over two hundred attacks on state installations over the following eighteen months.
1962 The General Law Amendment Act (Sabotage Act) increases the State President's power to declare organisations unlawful and to add further restrictions to banning orders. The Act creates the offence of sabotage by providing that any person who jeopardises law and order can be tried for sabotage for which the maximum sentence is death.
Poqo initiates attacks on ‘informers’, headmen, chiefs and whites. In November, Poqo members launch a raid in Paarl in which five people die. In the Eastern Cape, seven Poqo members die in December in a failed attempt to assassinate Paramount Chief Kaiser Matanzima. (On 4 February 1963, Poqo members kill five whites at the Bashee Bridge in Transkei). Mass arrests, allegations of torture, convictions and several executions follow.
1963 The Publications and Entertainment Act extends the state’s control over the media. Transkei is granted self-governing status — the first homeland to become self-governing. The General Law Amendment Act (ninety-day detention law) authorises any commissioned officer to detain without a warrant people suspected of political activities and to hold them, without access to a lawyer, for ninety days. In practice, people are often released after ninety days and immediately re-detained for a further ninety-day period. The ‘Sobukwe clause’ allows for the further detention for twelve months of a person convicted of political offences. Allegations of torture and deaths in detention soon follow.
In March, Potlako Leballo of the PAC announces that a general uprising in South Africa is imminent. British police raid PAC offices in Maseru and seize membership lists.
Republican Intelligence, the forerunner of the Bureau of State Security (BOSS), is formed in June.
Solwandle Looksmart Ngudle dies in September in Pretoria after being held for seventeen days, one of the first to die in detention. The official cause of death is suicide.
Seven senior members of MK are arrested at Lilliesleaf Farm, Rivonia on 11 July 1963. The Rivonia Treason Trial of ten people including Nelson Mandela follows. Most are sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) is founded.
1964 The Armaments Board, the forerunner to ARMSCOR, is established in order to develop South African self-sufficiency in the manufacturing of arms.
Three MK/South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) members from Port Elizabeth — Vuyisile Mini, Wilson Khayinga and Zinakile Mkaba — are executed following their conviction on charges of sabotage and the killing of an alleged police informer.
ARM member, John Harris, bombs Johannesburg station in July. A woman is killed and twenty-three people injured. (Harris is hanged at Pretoria Central Prison in April 1965).
1965 The Criminal Procedure Amendment Act (180-Day Detention Law) empowers the attorney-general to order the detention of people likely to give evidence for the state in any criminal proceedings relating to certain political or common law offences. Detainees can be held in solitary confinement for six months and only state officials are permitted access to them.
Bram Fischer of the SACP is arrested. He is subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Smith government in former Rhodesia declares UDI.
1966 SWAPO and the SAP clash at Ongulumbashe, SWA/Namibia, in a battle that marks the start of SWAPO’s armed struggle. SAP forces are led by ‘Rooi Rus’ Swanepoel.
The UN General Assembly terminates South Africa’s SWA mandate.
Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd is assassinated in the House of Assembly by a parliamentary messenger, Dimitri Tsafendas on 6 September.
Balthazar J Vorster becomes Prime Minister on 13 September.
1967 The Terrorism Act is passed, in terms of which police are empowered to detain in solitary confinement for indefinite periods with no access to visitors. The public is not entitled to information relating to the identity and number of people detained. The Act is allegedly passed to deal with SWA/Namibian opposition and NP politicians assure Parliament it is not intended for local use. Besides being used to detain Toivo ya Toivo and other members of Ovambo People’s Organisation, the Act is used to detain South Africans.
SAP counter-insurgency training begins (followed by similar SADF training in the following year).
Compulsory military service for all white male youths is extended and all ex-servicemen become eligible for recall over a twenty-year period.
Formation of the PAC armed wing, the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA).
MK guerrillas conduct their first military actions with ZIPRA in north-western Rhodesia in campaigns known as Wankie and Sepolilo. In response, SAP units are deployed in Rhodesia.
1968 The Prohibition of Political Interference Act prohibits the formation and foreign financing of non-racial political parties.
The Bureau of State Security (BOSS) is formed. BOSS operates independently of the police and is accountable to the Prime Minister.
The PAC military wing attempts to reach South Africa through Botswana and Mozambique in what becomes known as the Villa Peri campaign.
1969 The ANC holds its first Consultative (Morogoro) Conference in Tanzania, and adopts the ‘Strategies and Tactics of the ANC’ programme, which includes its new approach to the ‘armed struggle’ and ‘political mobilisation’.
PAC President, Robert Sobukwe, is released after spending six years in detention (imposed after the expiry of his three-year prison sentence) and is placed under house arrest in Kimberley.
The South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) is formed by black students, led by Steve Biko, in a breakaway from the white-dominated National Union of South African Students (NUSAS).
Imam Abdullah Haron dies in detention on 27 September after 122 days.
1970 The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act effectively strips all black South Africans of their citizenship by making them automatic citizens of one of the ten ‘homelands’.
1971 The International Court of Justice revokes South Africa’s mandate in Namibia.
Ahmed Timol dies in detention on 27 October, allegedly by jumping from the tenth floor of John Vorster Square police building.
The World Council of Churches allocates R91 000 of its annual R140 000 fund against racism to liberation movements in Southern Africa – including SWAPO, the ANC, and anti-apartheid groups.
1972 Black police are trained in anti-‘terrorist’ techniques by the SAP and deployed in Namibia.
Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Lebowa are granted self-government status.
Conscription is extended from nine to twelve months, followed by a nineteen-day annual call-up for five years.
The Black People’s Convention (BPC) is launched as an umbrella body to co-ordinate black consciousness groups.
The 1 Reconnaissance Regiment of the SADF is established.
Operation Plathond, a joint SADF/BOSS operation to train dissident Zambians in the Caprivi Strip, is launched.
The Schlebush Commission is appointed to investigate the objects, organisation, financing and activities of the University Christian Movement (UCM), NUSAS, the Christian Institute of Southern Africa, the South African Institute of Race Relations, and other related organisations.
Widespread student protests and expulsions of students take place at many universities in May, followed by student demonstrations which are broken up by the police.
1973 The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), a militant offshoot of the Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) is formed.
A wave of strikes begins in Durban and spreads to all major urban centres, marking the re-emergence of political protest and independent trade unionism.
African and Arab states impose an oil embargo on South Africa.
1974 The UN withdraws the credentials of the South African delegation, which loses voting but not speaking rights in the General Assembly. The ANC and PAC are granted observer status.
After a coup in Portugal, Portuguese colonial control in Mozambique and Angola collapses (leading in 1975 to independent socialist governments hostile to apartheid). The collapse of the buffer of colonial states between South Africa and ‘the rest of Africa’ leads to a review of South Africa’s regional and domestic security policy and to the emergence of the theory of ‘total strategy’ under PW Botha, including regional destabilisation.
The first cross-border killings take place in February. SASO founder Ongkopotse Abraham Tiro is killed in Botswana by a parcel bomb, and Boy Mvemve (John Dube) is killed by a letter bomb in Zambia.
Rallies in support of FRELIMO are held in Durban and at the University of the North. They are broken up by the police. Many are arrested across the country and several BPC and SASO leaders are detained and tortured.
A Special Forces division in the SADF is established in October, followed by the expansion of reconnaissance regiments.
1975 Operation K, a Security Branch counter-insurgency unit in Namibia and forerunner to Koevoet, is launched in January.
The Inkatha Cultural Liberation Movement is formed.
Mozambique and Angola become independent.
The SADF takes over responsibility for the counter-insurgency war in Namibia.
South Africa launches Operation Savannah, an invasion of Angola with US support (but withdraws the following year).
The Special Task Force is formed in January, followed by the setting up of eighteen full-time Riot Units countrywide. (The units are formed with a strong emphasis on the use of counter-insurgency techniques and were later responsible for the policing of the 1976 student revolt).
The Turnhalle conference takes place in Namibia, followed by the setting up of Democratic Turnhalle Alliance.
1976 On 16 June, the Soweto uprising begins. Police open fire on approximately 10 000 pupils protesting against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. Resistance spreads nationwide and continues for several months. There are 575 official deaths, including 390 in the Transvaal and 137 in the Western Cape. Over 2 000 people are injured. Arrests, deaths in detention and trials follow the revolt. The first members of the ‘Class of 76’ leave South Africa for training in armed resistance.
Nominal independence is granted to the Transkei in October, under the leadership of Paramount Chief Kaiser Matanzima.
1977 KwaZulu gains self-governance in February.
At the Goch Street shooting in Johannesburg on 15 June, two whites are killed and MK operatives Solomon Mahlangu and Mondy Motloung are arrested. (Mahlangu is sentenced to death and executed in April 1979).
Former ANC member, Leonard Nkosi, is killed by the ANC on 9 September, after he joins the Security Branch.
Black consciousness activist, Bantu Stephen Biko, dies in detention in Pretoria on 12 September, following his detention in Port Elizabeth. Widespread protests around the country follow. Numerous other deaths in detention occur during 1977 and in subsequent years.
Conscription to military service is increased to two years; citizen force duty to thirty days a year for eight years.
Former government official, Robert Smit, and his wife, Cora Smit, are killed in a possible political assassination in the Transvaal.
With the launch of Operation Silwer, South Africa begins giving official support to UNITA.
The ANC establishes guerrilla training camps in Angola, catering for the large-scale influx of youth from the 1976 student uprisings.
The South African Students’ Organisation (SASO), the Christian Institute and the Black People’s Convention (BPC) are banned along with other organisations.
Bophuthatswana becomes ‘independent’.
Winnie Mandela is banished for eight years to Brandfort in the Orange Free State.
1978 Anti-apartheid academic and activist, Rick Turner is killed in Durban on 8 January.
The Azanian Peoples Organisation (AZAPO) is launched in May.
Prime Minister BJ Vorster is forced to resign in the wake of the Information Scandal. It is revealed that he agreed to channel millions of rands to the Department of Information for a major covert international propaganda campaign, including the launch of the Citizen newspaper in South Africa.
PW Botha becomes Prime Minister, and State President from 1984 under the new constitution. Botha’s policy of ‘total strategy’ is introduced, involving reforms of the apartheid system, combined with extensive militarisation of the state as set out in the Defence White Paper. The introduction of the strategy follows the Venter and Van Dalsen enquiries.
South Africa accepts United Nations Resolution 435 for the independence of SWA/Namibia.
An ANC visit to Vietnam marks a shift in ANC military tactics. This is followed by the Fort Klapperkop Conference in 1979 and the Coetzee Committee in which leading security personnel review security policies towards the ANC and intelligence structures.
Kassinga Massacre: Operation Reindeer results in an SADF raid on SWAPO camps at Kassinga and Chetequera. Approximately 1 000 people are killed, 612 at Kassinga.
The SADF attacks SWAPO refugee camps in Zambia.
1979 Venda becomes independent.
MK Special Operations Unit is formed.
COSAS (Congress of South African Students), PEBCO (Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation) and AZASO (Azanian Students Organisation), later renamed SASCO (South African Students Congress) are formed.
The Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) is formed, followed by the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) the following year.
The government launches its ‘constellation of states’ policy to block ANC cross-border raids.
Riekert and Wiehahn labour ‘reforms’ are introduced.
The State Security Council adopts guidelines for cross-border raids, marking a shift to proactive defence and security policies.
The National Security Management System (NSMS) is implemented. The Secretariat of the State Security Council is established. (Regional Joint Management Centres (JMCs) are set up in the early 1980s).
Attacks by the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) on Lesotho from bases in the Orange Free State, are first reported.
The Security Branch Vlakplaas unit is established by Colonel JJ Viktor. (It is later formally constituted in 1981 with the transfer of Security Branch officers to Vlakplaas).
Koevoet is established in January as a police counter-insurgency unit for operations in northern Namibia. Koevoet operates on a bounty basis whereby members are given cash bonuses for killed and captured ‘terrorists’.
Chief Buthelezi and the ANC leadership in exile meet in London in October, whereafter ties are severed between Inkatha and the ANC.
Lancaster House settlement on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
1980 In what becomes known as the Silvertown Bank Siege, three MK operatives take bank employees hostage on 25 January. The operatives and two hostages are killed.
School boycotts originate in April in the Western Cape and spread nationally. Initial grievances concern mainly the standard and quality of education, but these grow into wider political protest. Street protest and police actions result in widespread violence. In the Cape, police shootings lead to over forty deaths.
The Sasol 1 oil refinery plant in Secunda is blown up in April by MK Special Operations Unit.
Expelled ANC official Tennyson Makiwane is shot dead by the ANC in the Transkei in June.
South Africa takes over support to RENAMO from the former Rhodesian government.
The independence of Zimbabwe is proclaimed.
The Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) is founded.
1981 In the Matola raid, the first major cross-border raid into Mozambique, twenty people, including three SADF members, are killed in January.
At the Simonstown Beraad [consultation] in January, the state rationalises the intelligence community, leading to the establishment of the Co-ordinating Intelligence Committee (CIC or KIK).
COSAS activist, Sizwe Kondile of Port Elizabeth, is abducted from Lesotho by the security police and killed in June.
Joe Gqabi, ANC chief representative in Zimbabwe, is assassinated in July.
The MK Special Operations Unit attacks the Voortrekkerhoogte military base in Pretoria in August.
Durban lawyer, Griffiths Mxenge, is assassinated by security police in Durban on 19 November.
The independence of the Ciskei, under Chief Lennox Sebe, is proclaimed on 4 December.
Self-governing status is conferred on KwaNdebele.
South Africa withdraws its recognition of UN resolution 435.
In Operation Protea, the SADF occupies one third of Angola.
1982 Trade unionist, Neil Aggett, dies at John Vorster Square in February, after seventy days in detention.
The Conservative Party (CP) is launched in March.
The ANC London offices are bombed by a South African security police team headed by Craig Williamson.
Nelson Mandela is transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town in March. A worldwide ‘Free Mandela’ campaign begins.
COSAS activists, Siphiwe Mthimkulu and Topsy Madaka, are abducted from Port Elizabeth on 14 April and killed by security police. Mthimkulu was in the process of suing the police for poisoning him with thallium while he was in detention.
ANC acting chief representative in Swaziland, Petrus ‘Nzima’ Nyawosa and his wife, Jabu, are assassinated in June in a car bomb explosion by South African security police.
ANC/SACP member, Ruth First, is assassinated in Maputo on 17 August by a parcel bomb despatched by South African security police.
Warrant Officer Selepe is killed by the ANC in Mamelodi in November.
South African commandos attack flats in Maseru, Lesotho, in December; forty-two people are killed, twelve of whom are Lesotho nationals. They miss their target, Chris Hani, but the ANC representative in Lesotho, Zola Nguni, is killed.
The Koeberg nuclear power plant is bombed by MK in December, causing extensive damage.
Three COSAS activists are taken (allegedly for military training) to a mine bunker near Krugersdorp by askaris masquerading as MK operatives. They are blown up. (This method of ‘entrapment’ is later used by the security forces in similar incidents in the mid- and late-1980s).
The Internal Security Act follows the recommendations of the Rabie Commission of Inquiry, providing for the banning of publications and people, prohibition from attending any kind of meeting, house arrest, indefinite preventive detention and solitary confinement for detainees.
Compulsory military service is extended.
1983 A car bomb explodes outside the South African Air Force headquarters on Church Street, Pretoria on 20 May. Nineteen people are killed and 200 injured. Two MK operatives die in the attack.
Security forces attack Matola, Mozambique in May, killing 6 people.
A two-year boycott of Ciskei-owned buses starts in Mdantsane, Ciskei in July. Ciskei security forces and vigilantes work together to force boycotters back onto buses. By the end of the year at least fifteen people have been killed.
The national launch of the United Democratic Front (UDF) takes place in Mitchell’s Plain on 20 August. The immediate goal is to oppose the introduction of the Tricameral Parliament and black municipal councils.
In terms of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, the new constitution is adopted by Parliament in September. The Act provides for the establishment of the Tricameral Parliament consisting of three legislative houses for whites, coloureds and Indians.
In the Ongoye killings on 29 October, Inkatha-aligned ‘warriors’ at the University of Zululand kill five and injure many in clashes between students and approximately 500 Inkatha supporters.
In a national referendum in November, white voters support the tricameral constitution proposal referendum, which accommodates coloureds and Indians but excludes Africans. In a 76% turnout, 66% vote ‘yes’.
Operation Askari is launched in Angola in December by the former SADF. It is a pre-emptive action, designed to forestall the invasion of SWA/Namibia by 800-1000 SWAPO guerrillas.
Namibian Multi-Party Conference is launched.
The End Conscription Campaign (ECC) is launched by whites opposed to conscription.
1984 Mutinies by frustrated MK soldiers at ANC camps Viana and Pango are crushed in early 1984, resulting in the execution of seven mutineers and the imprisonment of others at Quatro rehabilitation camp.
The Lusaka agreement between South Africa and Angola is signed in February, after South Africa announces its withdrawal from Angola. (The agreement is never fully implemented, as South Africa never entirely withdraws).
The Nkomati Accord is signed in March between Mozambique and South Africa. The Accord represents a non-aggression pact in which both sides pledge to cease hostile actions against each other. The Mozambique government agrees to expel all ANC military personnel.
ANC official, Jeanette Curtis Schoon, and her daughter, Katryn, are killed by a South African security police parcel bomb in Angola in June.
Elections are held for the House of Representatives and the House of Delegates in August.
In the Vaal uprising, nine people are killed in Sharpville after a rent increase, followed by numerous other deaths as protests spread. Rent boycotts become a new strategy of protest. In Operation Palmiet in September, the SADF is deployed to support the SAP in suppressing internal unrest in the Vaal Triangle, followed by a wider deployment of the SADF in unrest areas.
The new constitution is enacted in September. PW Botha becomes State President.
The biggest stay-away in thirty-five years takes place in November in the Transvaal.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Archbishop Desmond Tutu in December.
In the first UDF treason trial, fifteen UDF and union leaders are charged with treason in Pietermaritzburg. (The charges are finally dismissed in June 1986).
The UDF ‘Million Signature Campaign’ against apartheid is launched.
Mass student protests and disruptions intensify existing unrest caused by community protest activities and conflict with black local authorities.
The Strategic Communication Branch (STRATCOM) of the State Security Council is formalised, following an investigation into the use of psychological action/warfare.
1985 The Rand slumps and the disinvestment campaign commences. Britain and the US begin the process of adopting employment codes for companies operating in South Africa.
Mandela and other political prisoners are offered release in January if they renounce violence. Most refuse.
Widespread attacks begin on ‘collaborators’, including police and community councillors, by residents in both urban and rural areas across the country. These killings result in numerous ‘common purpose’ trials and many death sentences for those convicted.
Vigilante groups emerge nationwide. Groups such as the A-Team and the Phakathis in the Orange Free State and the A-Team in Chesterville, Durban, begin to target UDF activists. The Eagles youth club in the OFS (run by Military Intelligence from 1986) is active in the harassment of UDF leaders and violent disruption of youth meetings.
Conflict between black consciousness organisation AZAPO and the UDF erupts during a visit by US senator Edward Kennedy. Conflict continues throughout the year and spreads to other regions, including Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage where many are killed.
Violence erupts in February at Crossroads, an informal settlement in Cape Town, after the state declares that squatters in the Western Cape must move to Khayelitsha. Eighteen are killed and 200 are injured in clashes with the police.
Police open fire on a march to a funeral at Langa near Uitenhage on 21 March, killing at least twenty-one people. This is preceded by an authorisation to use buckshot and birdshot.
Councillor Benjamin Kinikini is ‘necklaced’ and four of his young relatives killed by a crowd on 23 March. This is the first widely publicised ‘necklace’ killing in the country. The SAP records 406 such ‘necklace’ killings and 395 deaths by burning between September 1984 and December 1989; a third of these take place in the former Eastern Cape and Border regions.
UDF and Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (PEBCO) activists — Sipho Hashe, Champion Galela and Qaqawuli Godolozi — are abducted on 8 May and killed by security police.
The SADF raids Gaberone in Botswana in June; twelve people are killed of which eight are South Africans.
MK members blow up the Umtata fuel depot, water pipelines and an electricity sub-station in June. A nightly curfew is subsequently imposed.
A second National Consultative (Kabwe) Conference of the ANC is held in Zambia in June, marking a turning point in the ANC’s approach to the struggle in South Africa. The distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ targets starts to be blurred and a desire to ‘take the struggle to the white areas’ is expressed.
In the Delmas treason trial, twenty-two Transvaal UDF leaders are indicted for treason in June. The trial runs from January 1986. In December 1988, Justice van Dijkhorst convicts eleven of the twenty-two who are given sentences from five to eleven years’ imprisonment. (The Appellate Division overturns the convictions at the end of 1989.)
Eight COSAS activists are killed by grenades booby-trapped by the security forces in Operation Zero-Zero at Tsakane in June.
The Cradock Four — UDF activists Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, Sicelo Mhlawuli and Fort Calata — are abducted and murdered by security forces outside Port Elizabeth on 27 June. Their funeral under ANC and SACP flags in July is attended by 60 000 people from all over the country.
A state of emergency is declared on 21 July 1985 in thirty-six magisterial districts. This is extended to additional areas, including the Western Cape in October 1985. The power to detain is extended to every member of the police, railways police, prison officials and army members. It becomes a crime to disclose the identity of any detainee without permission from the Minister of Law and Order. The Commissioner of Police is empowered to impose a blanket censorship on press coverage of the emergency. Thousands are detained and organisations still operating are either banned or restricted. This state of emergency lasts until March 1986.
Maki Skosana is necklaced on 25 July at the funeral of several people killed by police.
Eugene de Kock assumes command of Vlakplaas in July.
Victoria Mxenge, a Durban attorney, is assassinated in Umlazi on 1 August. This triggers a rapid escalation of conflict between the UDF and Inkatha in Natal.
COSAS is banned in August.
PW Botha delivers his ‘Rubicon’ speech in August, in which he retreats from talk of reform.
In August, the UDF in Cape Town organises a march to Pollsmoor Prison to demand the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. It ends in violence when police disperse the marchers. Clashes result in thirty-one deaths over the next few days and spark off widespread street protests and repression until the end of the year.
Seventeen people die in the Umlazi cinema killings when Inkatha supporters armed with traditional weapons and firearms burst into a memorial service held for Victoria Mxenge on 8 August.
The Gandhi settlement at Phoenix is attacked and destroyed in August. Seventy people die (forty-three at the hands of police) and more than 200 are injured.
UDF student activist, Batandwa Ndondo, is shot dead by security police and askaris at Cala, Transkei in September.
In what becomes known as the ‘Trojan Horse’ incident, three youths are killed in Athlone, Cape Town in October. A further two are killed in an identical security force operation the following day near Crossroads. This method is used elsewhere in the country, notably in the Eastern Cape.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is launched in November.
The first series of ANC landmine attacks in November leads to several deaths and injuries in the Northern and Eastern Transvaal rural areas. By the time the ANC ceases landmine operations, between twenty and forty people have died in over thirty landmine explosions.
In what becomes known as the Mamelodi killings in November, at least twelve people die when police open fire on 50 000 protesters demonstrating against rent rises, funeral restrictions and the presence of the SADF in the township.
In the Queenstown shootings, at least eleven people are shot dead when police open fire on a meeting in a church hall in November.
South African security forces launch a raid into Maseru in December. Six South Africans, including MK operatives, and three Botswana citizens are killed.
In the Amanzimtoti bombing, five people are killed and over sixty injured in an explosion at an Amanzimtoti shopping centre in December. MK operative, Sibusiso Andrew Zondo, is convicted for the bombing and executed in September 1986.
Church leaders issue the Kairos document.
The State Security Council inter-departmental committee on security is upgraded to Joint Security Staff (Gesamentlike Veiligheidstaf) to oversee the co-ordination of unrest and security matters under the Deputy Minister of Law and Order.
The highest decision-making body of Inkatha, its Central Committee, declares KwaZulu and Natal ‘no-go’ areas for the UDF (according to a State Security Council document produced in 1989).
1986 The attempted incorporation of Moutse into KwaNdebele leads to widespread resistance and violence accompanying the emergence of a pro-incorporation vigilante grouping, Mbokodo.
Reverend Mzwandile Maqina establishes AmaAfrika in Uitenhage following his expulsion from AZAPO in January. Violent conflicts with the UDF follow.
Residents clash with police in Alexandra in the ‘Six Day War’ in February. At least seventeen people are killed.
In the ‘Gugulethu Seven’ killing, seven MK operatives are shot dead by security forces in an apparent ambush on 3 March. A similar method involving entrapment and/or ambush is used in the killings of the ‘Nietverdient Ten’ in June and the ‘KwaNdebele Nine’ in July.
In the Winterveld killings, police open fire on a thousand-strong crowd on 26 March, killing eleven people and wounding 200 others.
Between April and October, paramilitary (Caprivi) training of 200 Inkatha supporters by SADF Special Forces takes place on the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/Namibia.
South African Air Force raids on Harare, Lusaka and Gaberone on 19 May result in the termination of the Commonwealth Secretariat peace mission, the Eminent Persons’ Group.
Over 1.5 million people participate in the largest May Day stay away yet seen.
The United Workers Union of South Africa (UWUSA) is launched by Inkatha in May, backed by substantial covert state funding.
Vigilante witdoeke attack and destroy the UDF-aligned satellite camps around Crossroads, Cape Town in May. A similar attack takes place at KTC in June. Over sixty people are killed, including ITN camera operator, George De’Ath. Tens of thousands are left homeless.
The nationwide state of emergency is re-imposed on 12 June, accompanied by mass detentions. (By the end of this state of emergency on 11 June 1987, over 25 000 people will have been detained at various times. The emergency is re-imposed annually until 1990).
In what becomes known as the Magoo’s Bar bombing, three people die and sixty-nine are injured when a car bomb explodes at Durban’s Parade Hotel on 14 June. Robert McBride is sentenced to death for the bombing; his sentence is later commuted to life imprisonment.
Four members of the Chesterville Youth Organisation are killed in a Vlakplaas operation in June.
KwaNdebele Minister, Piet Ntuli, is killed by a security force car bomb in July.
In White City, at least twenty-four people are killed in August following police action against a crowd demonstrating against municipal rent raids in Soweto.
MK operatives entering the country are ambushed in Amsterdam, Transvaal. Three die. (This method becomes more extensively used).
Mozambican president, Samora Machel, and thirty-four others die in an aeroplane crash at Mbuzini on South African soil in October.
Drs Fabian and Florence Ribeiro are killed by security forces in Mamelodi in December.
Special Forces operatives are deployed in support of key Security Branch divisions.
Chief Jonathan is toppled in a Lesotho coup. The ANC leaves Lesotho.
The Eastern Transvaal Target Work Group is established by joint security forces. TREWITS (Teenrewolusionêre Inligtingstaakspan), a counter-revolutionary intelligence task group, is formed to collect operationally directed intelligence.
The US passes the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act which imposes fiscal and other sanctions on South Africa.
Charles Sebe, jailed in 1984 for plotting a coup against his brother, Ciskei President Lennox Sebe, is broken out of jail in 1986 with the assistance of South African security forces during Operation Katzen.
The UDF campaign, ‘Forward to People’s Power’, is launched involving the establishment of street committees and people’s courts.
Special state of emergency media regulations in December impose a news blackout, prohibiting the reporting of unrest incidents or actions of the security forces.
Legislation – the pass laws, the Mixed Marriages Act and the Prohibition of Political Interference Act – is repealed.
1987 In the Natal ‘Midlands War’, increased inter-organisational conflict and violence break out between Inkatha and UDF youth organisations (resulting in large-scale deaths and social upheaval from 1987 to 1990). Inkatha-aligned vigilante gangs, such as the AmaSinyora in KwaMashu, engage in political violence.
In the KwaMakhutha massacre in January, the home of UDF leader, Bheki Ntuli, is attacked. Thirteen people are killed, including eight children.
The Alexandra Treason Trial of five UDF activists begins in January (and continues until their acquittal in April 1989).
In Operation Katzen, Transkei Defence Force (TDF) troops attack Ciskei president Lennox Sebe’s palace in January. In a failed attempt to abduct or kill him, at least two TDF troops die.
ANC official, Albie Sachs, is severely injured in a security force car bomb explosion in Maputo in April.
ANC activist, Gibson Ncube/Mondlane, is assassinated in April. He dies after drinking poisoned South African beer brought to Maputo by a Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) operative.
In the general elections in May, the Conservative Party replaces the Progressive Federal Party as the official opposition in Parliament.
Large-scale stayaways take place on 5 and 6 May to protest the ‘whites only’ election in May.
The head of MK’s Natal machinery, Theophilus ‘Viva’ Dlodlo, and two passengers are killed in a security police ambush in Swaziland in May.
Security forces bomb COSATU House on 7 May.
The Transkei, Ciskei and South Africa sign a non-aggression pact in Cape Town on 10 May, following the February attack by Transkei on Ciskei.
ANC National Executive Committee member, Cassius Maake, and MK operatives, Paul Dikeledi and Eliza Tsinini, are killed in a security police ambush in Swaziland in July.
A group of sixty-two mainly Afrikaans speaking whites meets with an ANC delegation in Dakar, Senegal in July.
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA) is formed in September.
A coup in Transkei by the Transkei Defence Force in September ousts Prime Minister George Matanzima and installs the civilian government of Stella Sigcau, which is itself deposed in December by a second coup under Bantu Holomisa.
The first Rivonia trialist to be released, Govan Mbeki, is placed under restriction orders after his release in November.
Botshabelo is incorporated into QwaQwa by presidential proclamation in December. The proclamation is challenged and declared invalid. Residents launch mass protests against the incorporation.
The ANC launches Operation Vula after its Arusha conference in Zambia in December. The objectives of Operation Vula are to build strong underground structures with the ultimate goal of bringing ANC leaders into the country.
Conflicts arising from the incorporation into KwaZulu of Clermont result in several killings.
1988 SADF forces are forced by a joint Angolan-Cuban force to retreat at Cuito Cuanavale in Southern Angola in early 1988.
The UDF, COSATU and sixteen other organisations are placed under severe restriction orders in February.
Disaffected elements of the Bophuthatswana defence force, led by Rocky Malebane-Metsing, attempt a coup in Bophuthatswana. The coup is crushed by the SADF on 10 February.
A one-month stay of execution is granted in March, in the Pretoria Supreme Court to six Sharpville residents, sentenced to death for being part of a crowd that killed a black councillor. Sentences are later commuted to life imprisonment following a local and international outcry against their ‘common purpose’ conviction.
ANC representative Dulcie September is killed in Paris in March, allegedly by the CCB.
Four unarmed ANC members are shot dead in June by a Vlakplaas hit squad and members of the Piet Retief security branch.
Massive strike in protest against the Labour Relations Amendment Act in June.
Stanza Bopape dies in police custody on 12 June, after being tortured. Police state that he ‘escaped from police custody’ and disappeared.
A concert at Wembley Stadium in London in July to celebrate Mandela’s seventieth birthday and protest his continuing imprisonment is televised worldwide.
The ANC publishes its constitutional guidelines in July.
The security forces bomb Khotso House, Johannesburg, on 1 September, causing extensive damage. In October, Khanya House (the offices of SA Bishops Conference) is destroyed in an arson and limpet mine attack.
The ECC wins a successful interdict against the SADF ‘dirty tricks’ campaign in October.
Municipal elections in October meet with widespread national resistance and violence.
Former police officer Barend Strydom, AWB and Witwolwe member, shoots randomly at black people in Pretoria in November, killing seven and injuring sixteen.
In what becomes known as the Trust Feed killings, eleven people are killed by SAP members and special constables who storm and fire on an all-night prayer vigil near New Hanover on 3 December. Senior Inkatha leaders are part of the planning.
South Africa signs the New York accord in December, readopts UN Resolution 435 and agrees to the withdrawal of troops from Angola and Namibia.
1989 Detainee hunger strikes begin in January when long-term state of emergency detainees across the country, some of whom have spent over three years in detention without trial, embark on hunger strikes. Gradually, many are released.
The Democratic Party is launched in April as an amalgamation of three white political parties to the left of the NP.
The UN Transitional Administration Group (UNTAG) is installed in Namibia to oversee elections.
David Webster is assassinated by Ferdi Barnard and other CCB operatives in Johannesburg in May.
The ANC, UDF and COSATU adopt the Harare Declaration in July, outlining the conditions for negotiations. The Declaration is later ratified by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations.
The Defiance Campaign, a passive resistance campaign, is launched in July by the ‘Mass Democratic Movement’.
The first known meeting between President PW Botha and Nelson Mandela takes place in July. (This follows several secret meetings between representatives of the government and the ANC from 1985.)
The last general election for the Tricameral Parliament takes place in September, marked by nationwide protest action and repression. On election night alone, over twenty people die in Western Cape townships.
A massive ‘Peace March’, protesting against police repression, is permitted to go ahead in Cape Town on 13 September.
Anton Lubowski, a SWAPO activist and lawyer, is shot dead in Windhoek in September.
FW de Klerk becomes State President on 20 September after the resignation of PW Botha in August and introduces a series of reforms over the following years. The National Security Management System is replaced by the National Co-ordinating Mechanism (NCM). The State Security Council is stripped of many powers. Many of its sub-structures are dismantled, excluding STRATCOM.
Walter Sisulu and seven other high profile prisoners (seven ANC members and one PAC member) are released by FW de Klerk in October.
On the eve of his scheduled execution in October, Butana Almond Nofemela confesses to the hit squad activities of security police at Vlakplaas. He is later supported by his commander, Dirk Coetzee, and David Tshikalanga.
Operation Victor, one of several security force operations in Namibia, aims at reducing SWAPO majority support.
SWAPO wins national elections in Namibia in November and Namibia becomes independent in March the following year.
In the Motherwell bombing, Port Elizabeth, in December, three police officers and an informer are killed when their car is blown up by fellow police officers to prevent possible revelations of police involvement in the killing of the Cradock Four.
The Pan-Africanist Movement (internal wing of the PAC) is launched.
1990 The Berlin Wall falls in February, the symbolic end of the ‘communist threat’ and used by FW de Klerk as a justification for a ‘liberalisation’ of strategy.
FW de Klerk announces the unbanning of liberation movements and other organisations, the release of political prisoners, the lifting of restrictions on thirty-three organisations, and a moratorium on judicial executions on 2 February.
Nelson Mandela is released on 11 February.
President FW de Klerk appoints the Harms Commission of Inquiry into certain murders in February to look at possible hit squad activity and the Civil Co-operation Bureau.
Violence breaks out outside Pietermaritzburg between 25-31 March in what becomes known as the ‘Seven Day War’, resulting in the loss of over two hundred lives, and the flight of up to twenty thousand people from the area.
Police open fire on a protest march of 50 000 people in Sebokeng in March, killing eight and injuring over 300.
Brigadier Oupa Gqozo seizes control of Ciskei in March, deposing Chief Lennox Sebe in a bloodless coup. This is followed by a brief period of liberalisation.
The Chand family in Botswana is killed in the last Vlakplaas cross-border raid in April.
Father Michael Lapsley is seriously injured in a letter bomb explosion in Zimbabwe in April.
The Venda government of President Frank Ravele is overthrown by military coup in April.
During student protests at Viljoenskroon, Orange Free State on 19 April, police open fire on a march, killing five and injuring many others.
Exiled ANC leaders arrive in the country in April for talks with the government. On 5 April, President De Klerk and ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela meet in Cape Town. Negotiations begin in May, resulting in the Groote Schuur Minute which allows for the release of political prisoners, the return of exiles and the amendment of security legislation.
The Indemnity Act is introduced in May, providing for the granting of temporary or permanent indemnity against prosecutions for exiles returning to South Africa.
The countrywide state of emergency is lifted in June. A partial emergency is declared in KwaZulu-Natal and lifted on 18 October 1990.
Senior ANC and MK personnel including Mac Maharaj are detained in July 1990 in a state crackdown on ‘Operation Vula’.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is launched as a political party in July.
Violence in the Reef begins in July, following local opposition to an IFP recruitment drive in Transvaal hostels which culminates in a rally in Sebokeng on 22 July. After the rally at least twenty-seven people are killed, followed by counter-attacks. (This spiral of violence continues, increasing in 1992).
The first train attack takes place at Inhlanzane Station in July. This marks the start of a series of attacks on train commuters in the Witwatersrand. Between 1990 and 1993, at least 572 people die in more than 600 incidents of train violence.
The Pretoria Minute is signed by the ANC and the government in August. The ANC suspends the armed struggle.
Violence on the Reef and in the Natal Midlands escalates in August.
AWB members open fire on a bus full of black commuters in October in Durban, apparently in retaliation for a fatal knifing incident in Durban by PAC supporters.
The state of emergency is lifted in Natal on 18 October.
A mass march against the local town council in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, on 25 October, ends in violence with at least eight deaths. (The march follows several months of conflict between the local ANC-aligned structures and town councillors).
The Harms Commission Report rejects confessions made by Dirk Coetzee, and other security police officers in November. It absolves the security police at Vlakplaas from responsibility for hit squad activities but finds the CCB broadly culpable of politically motivated violence.
Sixteen people are killed at Bruntville, Natal in November in an attack led by hostel dwellers. Approximately 1 500 people are forced to flee their homes.
Former Transkei Defence Force MI chief, Lieutenant Colonel Craig Duli, dies on 22 November while attempting to overthrow the military government of Major General Bantu Holomisa in Transkei. (Duli is supported by the South African security forces).
Mandela pledges that MK members will help form and train self-defence units (SDUs) to protect communities from attack by security forces or vigilantes. SDUs are established in many townships across the country.
Compulsory military service (conscription) is ended and the SADF is withdrawn from townships.
Vigilante activities by the Three Million Gang (reported as active from 1989 to 1992 in the Orange Free State) target UDF and ANC activists, student organisations and SDUs for attack. The SDUs violently oppose the group.
The killing of political leaders and activists in Natal escalates.
1991 In the Christopher Nangalembe night vigil killings in January, forty-five people are killed when a night vigil is attacked with automatic weapons in Sebokeng, Transvaal.
Ciskei rebels, Colonel Onward Mangwane Guzana and former General Charles Sebe are shot dead at a roadblock in Ciskei on 27 January, following an apparent ambush on their coup attempt against Brigadier Oupa Gqozo’s government.
Thirteen die and twenty-nine are injured when police open fire on Daveyton residents holding an illegal meeting on 14 January.
Lawyer Bheki Mlangeni is killed in February by a Vlakplaas parcel bomb meant for Dirk Coetzee.
The UDF National General Council decides in March to disband the organisation later that year.
In the Alexandra night vigil killings on 26 March 1991, fifteen people are shot dead and at least eighteen are injured in an attack on a funeral vigil for an ANC member who died in fighting in Alexandra which raged for three days.
Political prisoners engage in hunger strikes in April and May to protest the slow pace of releases.
Winnie Mandela is found guilty in May of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault after the fact.
The ANC National Executive Committee writes an open letter as an ultimatum to the State President in April concerning the pattern of political violence and making a number of demands. The ANC subsequently suspends constitutional talks with the government in May.
A group of about eight hundred alleged IFP supporters attack the squatter settlement of Swanieville on the East Rand on 12 May. Twenty-nine people are killed and over thirty injured.
The Group Areas Act and the Land Acts of 1913 and 1936 are repealed in June.
In the ‘Battle of the Forest’ in June, twenty-three people are killed in fighting between IFP and ANC supporters in the Richmond townships of Ndaleni and Magoda, Natal.
The ‘Inkathagate’ scandal breaks in July and government funding of, inter alia, Inkatha and its union UWUSA for anti-ANC activities is revealed. De Klerk establishes the Kahn Committee to examine secret projects.
The African Democratic Movement (ADM) is launched by Ciskei’s Brigadier Oupa Gqozo in July. The ADM is subsequently involved in violent clashes with ANC supporters.
Nelson Mandela is elected president of the ANC in July and Oliver Tambo elected chairperson.
The Patriotic Front is launched to oppose the government — it includes the ANC, the PAC and ninety other organisations.
The National Peace Accord is signed on 14 September by the government, the ANC, the IFP and twenty-four other organisations. The government, the ANC and Inkatha reach an agreement, which opens the door to negotiations and leads to the establishment of the Goldstone Commission.
The Goldstone Commission is established in October to investigate public violence and intimidation.
The government and eighteen other parties (excluding the CP and the PAC), making up the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA ), sign a Declaration of Intent in December.
The Esikhaweni IFP hit squad is active in areas of Zululand, killing UDF/ANC and union supporters and leaders until 1993.
From 1991, Khayelitsha and other Cape Town townships see the emergence of anonymous (‘balaclava’) attacks on people aligned with the ANC.
Intense competition between taxi operators for ranking facilities and routes escalates from 1991 and acquires a political character in certain areas (over 200 lives are lost in 1992 alone).
1992 In Umlazi on 13 March, eighteen people are killed (including fifteen women and three children). Twenty-eight are injured in an attack on the Uganda squatter settlement.
A whites-only referendum on 17 March gives the government firm support for negotiations – a 68.6% vote for the continuation of the negotiations process.
In the Phola Park killings on 8 April, the SADF’s 32 Battalion shoots dead two women and injures more than a hundred other people during a raid on the Phola Park informal settlement.
In the Boipatong killings on 17 June, two hundred IFP supporters from KwaMadala hostel attack residents of Slovo Park squatter camp, killing over forty-five people. The ANC withdraws from CODESA in protest against the killing and launches a mass action campaign.
The ANC calls a strike on 3-4 August, estimated to have cost business R250 million.
The Skweyiya Commission of Enquiry, an internal ANC commission, reveals details in August of human rights violations in ANC detention camps. Nelson Mandela accepts collective responsibility for the leadership of the ANC.
In the Bisho killings on 7 September, Ciskei Defence Force troops open fire on ANC protesters demanding free political activity in Ciskei at Bisho. Twenty-nine protesters and one soldier are killed and about 200 are wounded. (This follows months of violent conflicts between homeland government supporters and ANC supporters).
On the Natal South Coast, twelve IFP supporters are killed at Bomela in September and twenty at Folweni in October.
The state and the ANC sign the Record of Understanding in September.
APLA attacks the King William’s Town golf club in the Eastern Cape in October, killing four and injuring seventeen. The first major attack by APLA, it is followed by other attacks resulting in at least ten deaths in Eastern Cape bars, restaurants and churches.
A Goldstone Commission raid in November uncovers a campaign waged by the Directorate of Covert Collection (DCC) to discredit the ANC. General Pierre Steyn is appointed to investigate Military Intelligence structures and functions.
Project Echo and Operation Thunderstorm, two extensive SADF projects aimed at undermining the ANC, are exposed.
The Internal Stability Unit is created by the SAP to relieve ordinary police of riot duties.
The KwaZulu legislative assembly adopts a constitution for a future state of KwaZulu-Natal as an autonomous state within a federation.
APLA continues armed attacks, including the killing of white farmers.
1993 An APLA commander declares 1993 ‘The Year of the Great Storm’. APLA operatives carry out several attacks on restaurants, churches, farms and pubs, killing mainly white civilians. In March, APLA attacks the Yellowwoods Hotel in Fort Beaufort and a Baha’i church service in Mdantsane, Ciskei. On 1 May, APLA attacks the Highgate Hotel in East London, on 25 July the St James Church in Cape Town, and on 31 December the Heidelberg Tavern in Cape Town. These attacks result in multiple killings and injuries.
The government announces in March that it has dismantled six nuclear bombs built secretly before 1989.
Six children are killed by ANC supporters on 2 March and ten are killed by IFP supporters on 5 March in two separate bus ambushes Table Mountain, Natal.
Chris Hani is assassinated in April. Senior CP member, Clive Derby-Lewis, and Polish immigrant, Janusz Waluz, are later convicted. Over seventy people die across the country in violence sparked by his murder.
27 April 1994 is confirmed as the election date. Inkatha and the CP walk out of the talks, later joined by Ciskei and Bophuthatswana. (They later set up the Freedom Alliance). The July announcement of the election date leads to an immediate escalation in deaths related to political violence.
The Afrikaner Volksfront is launched in May by 21 right-wing groups who demand self-determination in a federal state.
Winnie Mandela’s conviction on kidnapping charges is upheld on appeal but her conviction on accessory to assault is overturned in June. The sentence is changed to a fine.
Members of the Afrikaner Volksfront and the AWB invade the negotiations venue, the World Trade Centre, in June and occupy the building causing damages estimated at R700 000.
A second ANC-appointed enquiry, the Motsuenyane Commission, reports in August on human rights abuses in ANC detention camps. Conclusions reached (similar to those of the first enquiry) are accepted by the ANC. Alleged perpetrators are named.
The IFP and KwaZulu Legislative Assembly embark on a Self-Protection Unit training project. Training of SPUs begins at Mlaba Camp in September with the assistance of Vlakplaas commander De Kock with weapons delivered by IFP member Philip Powell. (By April 1994, over 5 000 Inkatha supporters have received training).
The ANC wins an order in October, restraining members of the ISU from assaulting and torturing people at Nyoni farm, the ISU headquarters in Vosloorus.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk in October.
The SADF attacks an alleged APLA safe house in Umtata, Transkei in October. Five children are killed.
The ANC and the government propose power sharing and a five-year interim government of national unity after elections.
Three years of negotiations end with agreement on constitutional issues in November. Agreements are reached on a non-racial, multi-party democracy, a bill of rights, a system of proportional representation and other matters.
The interim Constitution is finalised and a Transitional Executive Council is installed, with representatives from all parties at the negotiations. The ANC and the government continue talks with the Freedom Alliance in an attempt to resolve issues in time to bring the Alliance into the elections.
1994 One person is killed and several injured in an APLA attack on the Crazy Beat disco in Newcastle, Natal on 14 February.
PAC president Clarence Makwetu announces the suspension of the armed struggle.
The Fourth Interim Report of the Goldstone Commission in March concludes that there is prima facie evidence of a hit squad in the KwaZulu Police.
Amidst a widespread public revolt at his decision to withdraw from the April elections, President Mangope draws in the white right wing including the Volksfront to defend his rule. Hundreds of armed AWB members drive into Bophuthatswana and attack residents. Over forty-five people are killed, including three AWB members.
The military ruler of the Ciskei, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, resigns in March. The Transitional Executive Council takes over control of the Ciskei.
At least fifty-five people die and hundreds are injured when IFP members march to the centre of Johannesburg on 28 March. IFP marchers are shot at by ANC members from the ANC Shell House head office, killing thirteen.
In the Ndwedwe killings, eight people are killed while distributing voter education pamphlets north of Durban on 12 April.
Members of the AWB’s Ystergarde launch a series of bomb attacks in the Transvaal to sabotage the national election, killing over twenty one people. This includes an attack on the airport, a Germiston taxi rank where ten people are killed, and a car bomb in central Johannesburg on 24 April which kills nine people.
Less than a week before the election in April the IFP calls on its supporters to vote.
South Africa’s first democratic election takes place on 27 April. The ANC wins with 62.6% of the vote, implying 252 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly. A Government of National Unity is constituted.
Former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock and two others are arrested in Pretoria in May.
Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as President of South Africa on 10 May.