Friday, August 31, 2007

Apartheid, NZ Trek and SA Pre-Election Terror, 1994

1994. WW1 Gallipoli Donkey, Wellington Museum, New Zealand.

Early in 1994, I trekked NZ in a hired 850cc Suzuki car from Auckand to Waitangi; Cape Reinga; East Cape; Napier; Wellington; Cook Srait ferry; West Coast; Alps; Invercargill; Dunedin; Christchurch; oriental haemerrhoid Banks Peninsular. Hitchhikers I picked up were either Swiss or German tourists, or female hitchers were either on the dole, or pregnant on the Domestic Purposes Benefit. My dry, hot days on Canterbury Plains reminded me of my Natal boyhood, rose-an'-pollen days.

Unrest, Bophuthatswana: 3 AWB men shot by a cop while Tswana looted Mmabatho during the puppet homeland collapse. (Graham Boynton, Last Days in Cloud Cuckooland, Dispatches from White South Africa, Random House, New York, 1997). AWB boykies sang, "Een kaffir een koeel, kaffir-skiet piekniek," versus black strugglers, "Kill the farmer kill the Boer" song. NZ media omitted reporting SADF's general Viljoen's 3000 Freedom Alliance men supporting puppet Mangope, and colonel Breytenbach and his troopies observing Terblanches's AWB bully boykies. (State-supported Zulu chief Buthelezi had formed a right-wing Freedom Alliance with far right Bophuthatswana's Mangope, puppet Ciskei's Gqozo, Conservative Party and Viljoen's Volksfront, after De Klerk had unbanned ANC, SACP and PAC).

The puppet cop, who shot the 3 AWB men before photo-journalists, made rightist Viljoen support Breytenbach's state troopies, re-think his Volkstaat nonsense, and later form his right-wing Freedom Front Party to join the freedom election. (JDF Jones, The Many Lives of Lourens van der Post Storyteller, John Murray, London, 2001).

March, Mdantsane Bahai Church: 3 Iranian men shot, including 2 doctors, by APLA. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Vol 3, Macmillan, London, 1999). A murdered doctor's son was in standard one at Selborne Primary with Jake. How do you explain terrorism to kids?

In NZ I met dollar-grasping Kiwis. I saw mountains, glaciers, beech forests, lakes, rivers, beaches. I trekked 10 000 kays, saw road-kill possums, a live tautara, cattle, red deer, mobs of sheep, unnaturally clean-green paddocks, many shags. NZ was safe, far from murderous Azanians.

After NZ I stayed deaf, and played Luister during my last teaching year. My deafness gain over the last decade had parallelled the loss of white power during apartheid's demise. SA and my sugar-banana Natal were in turmoil before the 1994 freedom election. Buthelezi's Inkatha left Codesa talks. Zulu mobs, with assegais and knobkerrie traditional weapons, terrified Witwatersrand black hostel dwellers and township dwellers, while fighting ANC strugglers. Since Shaka's day, Zulus had carried traditional weapons. When I was a Durban boy, night-watchmen guarded buildings equipped with pith-helmet, knobkerrie and assegai.

Before the freedom election, MK soldiers returned from exile in Angola, Zambia, elsewhere to unemployment in SA. The struggle was officially over. Finding-keeping jobs, supporting families, being decent citizens threatened. MK returnees, APLA and SADF merged, forming the new SANDF. Old SADF, APLA, MK soldiers didn't reconcile in army camps, as ranks differed and rebellion rumbled in Tempe camp near Bloemfontein. Toilets were trashed, hand-basins shat in.

Unrest, Shell House Massacre, Johannesburg: 58 people killed by ANC. (Ibid TRC, Vol 3). Later, June 1995, new president Mandela admitted ANC responsibility for Shell House shootings by stating on parliament: "This is nothing more nor less than a statement of the common law right to self defence." I wondered what the families of the dead thought of that?

Buthelezi didn't want Zulus / Inkatha participating in the freedom election (Patti Waldmeier, Anatomy of a Miracle, The End of Apartheid and The Birth of a New South Africa, WW Norton & Company Ltd, New York, 1997). By the February deadline for registering election parties, far right Freedom Alliance members hadn't registered. The deadline was extended. Viljoen registered his Freedom Front party, which brought conservative white voters into the freedom election.

In April, Buthelezi, Mandela, Zulu king Zwelithini and De Klerk met to discuss Zwelithini's future after the freedom election. As often happened in Africa, clashes between hereditary kings, hereditary tribal chiefs and western democracy loomed. Buthelezi was intransigent, but it was decided the election would proceed with or without Buthelezi and Inkatha, despite Zulus being the biggest ethnic group.

Kwa-Zulu hit squads were accused of killing civilians. (Ibid Waldmeier). A State-of-Terror was declared in KwaZulu-Natal, and traditional weapons were banned. Buthelezi agreed to Inkatha voting in the freedom election. Buthelezi's face was stuck on the bottom of millions of ballot forms. De Klerk's face had been on the bottom.

1990-1994: 10 000 people died in KwaZulu-Natal in Inkatha-ANC fighting. (Glenn Lyndon Dodds, The Zulus and Matabele Warrior Nations, Arms and Armour, London, 1998).

Headlines reported "political" killings: State anti-insurgency terror tactics versus commie terror tactics of protest marches, random killings detonating more killings, strikes and riotous assemblies went hammer and sickle. In 1989 Soviet communism had expired. In 1994 commies arrived in SA. Although the Soviet Union had broken up into seceding Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, and other eastern countries, Azanian commies and socialists, Mhlaba, Kastrils, Mbeki, Slovo, Gwala, et al, were scared Buthelezi would secede KwaZulu -Natal from SA. Despite puppet bureaucrats' fears of losing puppet homeland jobs, homelands were absorbed into Rainbow SA, and new political borders were drawn on tribal lines.

Bombings, Jo'burg, Germiston, Pretoria: 21 people killed by AWB. (Ibid Boynton).

Blacks were killed in trains and hostels. A man was hammered on his head, while asleep in bed in Butterworth. His wife watched him die, while tsotsis rifled their home.

The air was charged with violence and expectation. Mr. Gunn and his wife trekked overseas: not the only whiteys who left SA during election time. I polished my .22 pistol: not the only whitey polishing. If mobs attacked, I'd die fighting in my home.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Gerhard Mare's report on "The Sad Saga of KwaZulu-Natal," a year after the 1994 election.

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