MR LYSTER: Professor Aitchison, thank you for coming in today to give this initial overview of the Seven Day War. You have made a document available to the Commission, and I think there are copies which are available for members of the public if they want those copies. There aren't enough to go round, but I understand you have made a couple of hundred copies. I am going to let you then talk to the document. I think it's probably too long to read through, but if you can start by briefly just telling us who you are and giving us your credentials, and explain to us why you believe you have the credentials to give us this overview. Thank you.
PROFESSOR AITCHISON: Right, thank you. I am a professor of adult education at the University of Natal, head of the Centre for Adult Education. In the course of my life in this city I have been a political party member and a member of a number of human rights organisations since the mid-70s. Apart from having, as an academic, studied and monitored human rights abuses and so-called unrest in this region since about 1987, I believe I am in an almost unique position to present an overview of the substantive facts on the so-called Seven Days War in that when the Midlands Crisis Relief Committee was set up on the Thursday of that dreadful week, I was appointed by that Committee to act as a collator of all information received from all members of that Committee, and all sources of information, and to compile and release that information to the press and other interested parties. So in a sense I became the privileged end point of a huge range of information about the Seven Days War.
And I have in my submission presented three
documents. Firstly, a compilation of all the messages, information, testimonies received by the 24-hour monitoring service of the Crisis Committee which was set up on that Thursday. Secondly, I have submitted a list of all the known dead in the so-called Seven Days War week, as well as in the month of April 1990, which I have handed in. And, thirdly, a summary compiled by myself on the basis of 194 unsworn statements received from refugees who had fled to Edendale, giving accounts of what they had experienced during the Seven Days War period. These statements were made by people who had been briefed by legally trained people, and were extremely reputable members of the academic community, clergymen and so forth.
The contents of my submission - I would like briefly to outline the kind of political geography of the region at the time of the Seven Days War, secondly to provide an account of the seven days of the war, and finally to give a brief account of the aftermath of the war. In outlining the geography of the area I will also describe some of the possible preludes to, or precipitating factors which could have been seen as provoking or causing the war.
Firstly the political geography of the region early in 1990. To the west of Pietermaritzburg lies the freehold area of Edendale, abutting onto Pietermaritzburg. There are two townships, one on the north bank of the Umsunduzi River, which flows through this region, is Ashdown location, and on the south bank Imbali township. Both these were originally part of the Pietermaritzburg Municipality, but were excised. At the time Edendale and Ashdown were very much UDF supporting - ANC supporting since its unbanning in February, just a month earlier.
Imbali had - was becoming UDF, although there were still strong pockets of Inkatha supporters there. The Vulindlela area was predominantly under the control of the Inkatha Cultural Liberation Movement, as it was at that time, before it formed a political party in mid-1990, the Inkatha Freedom Party.
In late 1987 there had been considerable fighting there, but in early 1988 there was the massive series of raids, detentions by the police, a counter attack by Inkatha, and Inkatha came to dominate most of this area, although certain of the areas adjoining Edendale were considered to be non-Inkatha. There were a couple of other UDF supporting pockets, Xamalala, Vulindlela, and the township of Mpophomeni on the north, where COSATU was very strongly represented. The main road from Pietermaritzburg goes through Edendale through to Vulindlela and through to the Berg. The alternative route, if the Edendale route is blocked, is through the northern suburbs of Pietermaritzburg, and there is access to part of Vulindlela through the area that is known as Sweetwaters.
I will now move on to the issue of possible preludes or precipitating factors for the war. Wars are generally considered to have causes or precipitating factors even if they are discovered for use as post-event excuses, and the Seven Days War is no different. Clearly a leading cause of the violence was the fact that there had been a civil war in this region certainly since September 1987, and, of course, there is growing evidence already revealed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and in a number of recent trials, of State collusion and partisanship in this
conflict, and undoubtedly that needs to be explored further.
But there are three events or causes which are often considered as precipitating factors. Firstly, the behaviour of young refugees from Vulindlela who fled and took shelter in Edendale, when life became intolerable for them in Vulindlela once Inkatha had gained control of that area in 1988. Secondly, the meeting between Chief Buthelezi, King Zwelithini and the KwaZulu Amakhozi on Friday, the 23rd and Saturday the 24th of March 1990. And, thirdly, the Inkatha rally at Kings Park, Durban, on Sunday, the 25th of March. The 25th of March conventionally considered to be the start of the Seven Days War.
Firstly, the stoning of buses by young refugees from Vulindlela. From the mid-80s there were various surges of young people who fled into Edendale for refuge. They, unable to return back to their families because they feared being killed, would frequently take it out on commuters coming from Vulindlela to work in Pietermaritzburg by stoning buses, and a fair number of incidents were reported in the police unrest report and in the pages of the Natal Witness and the Witness Echo.
Such was indeed the situation at the beginning of 1990, and it is a situation that provokes two of 20 questions I would like to pose as I present my submission. Firstly, why did the security forces not guarantee the right of these young refugees in Edendale to return to their homes in Vulindlela and live there in safety? Secondly, why did the security forces not take serious action to eliminate stoning of buses and other vehicles
taking people from Vulindlela through Edendale to Pietermaritzburg?
There were a number of comments, occasions when these two issues were taken up, and I have documented them in detail in my submission. In many cases the kind of leadership of the Edendale community would complain that these refugees were a problem, but on the other hand they simply could not send them back to death in Vulindlela, because that was the choice. And so they would - for example, Mr Simelane, of the Edendale Landowners Association said, "We still cannot send them back because they will get killed. This thing has become a big headache for Edendale." Inkatha supporters from Vulindlela themselves complained to the police, and various threats were made. At a meeting on the 7th of March 1989, "We will have to take the initiative to secure the safety of our parents. We will have to go to town, just as the Amaqabane are in town. We ask the police to look after this problem or else Pietermaritzburg will be a town of blood. If the police cannot solve this problem we will be forced to go to town ourselves. There will be bloodshed." And again various comments along those lines. Captain Terblanche of the Riot Unit said, in response to one of these complaints - he said that anybody who had witnessed a stoning incident and could identify the culprits should contact the police. "I promise you tomorrow that person will be behind bars."
Now, in early 1990, on the 20th of February, there were a couple of incidents on the road between Edendale and Henley in which four buses were stoned, one petrol-bombed and shot at. A person died and several were
injured. That evening David Ntombela, a well known Inkatha supporter in KwaNqane in Vulindlela, who had gained a reputation of being a formidable so-called Inkatha warlord, called a big meeting at his house. A van carrying a loudspeaker was sent out telling everybody not to go to work the next day, and calling all young men to come to the tribal court the next morning with their weapons. Mr Ntombela allegedly then incited them to attack, but the next morning the police were aware of the situation and intervened, and they appear to have talked the crowd of about 5 000 people out of attacking. Mr Ntombela reportedly had quite a task, having worked everybody up to attack, to calm them.
Now, that gathering on the 21st of February is very interesting because Lieutenants Meyer, Tukkie van der Heever of the Riot Unit, and Brigadier Buchner, who had flown in from Ulundi, were present. And I would like to quote what Lieutenant Tukkie van der Heever had to say. "This morning they were on their way to Esikodini," which is in Edendale, "to attack, but Chief Ntombela and I were stopping them and telling them to turn back. Yes, they were proceeding on foot, but these people are disciplined. When he, Mr Ntombela, said turn back they listened to him. They would not attack if he did not say so." At the close of the meeting Brigadier Buchner told the crowd that the stick he wielded in his hand was one for peace. I won't comment on what the previous speaker's stick was intended for. "They were planning to march into town to attack people. It would have been innocent people that you attacked. That's what the enemy were planning you to do. Do not take the law into your own hands."
Anyway, that was defused, and an interesting comment - the Natal Witness reported the police as having said if the attack had taken place the ensuing bloodletting could have reached a level unparalleled in the history of Natal's violence. The distance from Elandskop to the outskirts of Edendale Valley is about 20 kilometres, and hundreds more people were likely to have joined the warring party en route. While areas in Mnyadi have been targeted for attack at the meeting residents spoke of wiping out other areas as well.
Now, what is extremely significant about these statements is that it is quite clear the police at a top level were aware of a very dangerous situation. This is a mere month before the Seven Days War. So this raises my third question. After the attempt, starting at David Ntombela's place, to attack communities lower down the valley as retaliation for an attack on buses, and which was almost immediately defused by senior Riot Unit police officers and Brigadier Buchner, what monitoring and planning was done by the police in anticipation of possible further attacks? And the associated question that arises, if no such planning was done, who is responsible for such a gross abdication of duty?
The second precipitating possibility. The possible incitement to violence at the meeting in Ulundi on 23rd/24th of March. In his address, which was distributed widely to the press, King Zwelithini said, "I know what my forebears would do in similar circumstances," and he had been describing the Amakhozi as under threat. "Whenever there was a threat to the nation they acted swiftly and decisively." And after denouncing militant youth and
trade unionists he stated, "I want to know as your king whether you approve of these patterns of behaviour so foreign to our society. If not, what are you going to do about it? Must we allow this fire to destroy the future of our children and their children's children? Do you mean to tell me that you cannot mobilise your people in your area to stop this raging fire of anarchy?"
So that raises the fourth question. Were any preparations made or incitement given at the meeting between Chief Buthelezi, King Zwelithini and the KwaZulu Amakhozi on Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th of March 1990?
The third precipitating factor. The Inkatha rally at Kings Park on Sunday, the 25th of March. On the 25th of March, exactly a month after a hugely successful ANC rally addressed by Nelson Mandela at Kings Park, Durban, and at the same but now rain-swept venue, Buthelezi could only muster a crowd of less than 10 000 people to an Inkatha rally, which was subsidised by the security police by the amount of R152 169,04. Organisers said the crowd would have been larger if it had not been for the weather and incidents of intimidation involving buses. Mr David Ntombela, an Inkatha Central Committee member from Elandskop, and KwaZulu urban representative, Mr V V Mvelase, said a number of buses were badly damaged and had to return home. Ntombela, who spoke at the rally, said, "I warn these people it is for the last time. I warn them if they continue doing that I will defend anyhow. If they stone the buses my people will protect themselves.
My fifth question arises naturally out of the murky
role of the Security Police in funding this rally. Was there any incitement, or were preparations or logistical arrangements made at the State-funded Inkatha rally at Kings Park on Sunday, 25th March, 1990?"
I will now try and briefly summarise the seven days of the war. Obviously this is compiled from an enormous amount of - a multitude of individual incidents, far too many to even document. Okay, Sunday the 25th, to and from the rally. Buses passed through Edendale from Vulindlela to the meeting in Durban. Different accounts have been given of provocations, stonings, shootings and attacks by either the bus riders or by people on the route which runs through Edendale. During the day a number of requests were made to the police by the community in Edendale not to allow the buses back through Edendale. That evening a large group of returning buses stopped near Edendale Hospital and people got out, possibly in preparation for some kind of march through Edendale. And certainly people at the nearby soccer stadium were chased. The Riot Unit there was under the command of Lieutenant Daniel Meyer. Simultaneously there was a clash between local youths and police on the main road. There was considerable confusion and shooting. It is difficult to establish who attacked or provoked who. KwaZulu Transport claimed the next day that R25 000,00 damage was done to buses.
When contacted by the Reverend Nicholson, who had been phoned by a concerned Edendale resident, Plessislaer Police Station said they were not going out because they didn't have any armoured vehicles. Loop Street Police Station claimed that everything was under control. Most of the buses then drove back to Vulindlela via the
Sweetwaters route, and it was some of the buses that stopped at KwaShangiya, a rather non-Inkatha area, and at that point there was a skirmish and a local man was stabbed to death. Near KwaMnyandu, at Mobeza's Store, another returning bus load led by Induna Lololombo attacked people, and Grace Zondi and Brian Sihla Zondi were shot dead, allegedly by Jerome Indaba and by Zazini Skiliki Zondi. They were both later tried and acquitted at a trial in 1992.
Two questions arise out of what happened on Sunday. Question: did Inkatha supporters attack, harass or provoke people in non-Inkatha areas on their way to and from the rally? Alternatively, were Inkatha supporters harassed, attacked and provoked on their way to and from the rally? The other question is, if there was indeed a serious threat to returning buses why didn't the security forces, with the awesome fire power at their disposal, prepare for the return and escort the buses to Edendale, where certainly there are no houses near the freeway and there would be a clear line of fire for protective security forces?
Monday, the 26th March. Monday was relatively quiet. There were some stonings of some Inkatha vehicles. There was a gathering at Ntombela's house at KwaNqane near Elandskop. Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Danie Schutte, said on the 29th of March that on Monday the commander of the Unrest Unit, Colonel Fourie, had done his best to defuse the situation by urging Inkatha supporters not to retaliate because of the attacks on buses carrying Inkatha supporters on the Sunday. Again clear evidence that the police were well aware that this was a volatile situation.
Claims were later made that Chief Nsikayezwa Zondi's vehicle was stone or petrol-bombed and a child injured in Edendale on this Monday. Later reports indicate that this alleged attack, and even rumours of the chief's death, were used the next day to mobilise support for the attack down the Xalusa road from Umphumuza Sweetwaters.
Day three, Tuesday the 27th of March. From early in the morning there were attacks on Xalusa, which, if people can see the map, is on the north side of Edendale. It abuts onto the Umphumuza Sweetwaters area of Vulindlela. Combatants totalled about 2 500 to 3 000. Several of them were transported in hijacked buses and a variety of smaller vehicles, including an ambulance. Many of the attackers had firearms, and people in "kits konstabel" or special constable uniforms were among the attackers. Reports were received that Philip Zondi was leading the combatants. The attacks appeared to be co-ordinated. Groups of about 300-odd would peel off to move to left or right, and some of those attacked the township of Ashdown.
In Xalusa a number of people were shot. 130 gunshot cases were treated in Edendale Hospital alone, and an off-duty policeman, Sergeant Nene, was also critically wounded and later died. Houses were burnt, looting took place. Police vehicles were present, but the police seemed unable to halt this massive movement of forces several thousand strong. Again although the question of whether strategically placed roadblocks and a sense of determination could not have done so?
At Xalusa armed warriors filed past police to move on to attack other areas. By contrast defensive actions by residents were dispersed by the police. A number of
claims have been made that some police were seen handing ammunition over to the Inkatha forces. This raises the question, did some policemen on various occasions in this week supply Inkatha forces with ammunition, and possibly even weapons? Later in the day some of these forces withdrew in camping in the Umphumuza area on the north flank of Edendale in Chief Nsikayezwa Zondi's homestead.
That night Ashdown youth launched a revenge attack on Payaphini, which is right above Ashdown, and a person was killed and 19 houses were damaged. Chief Zondi's son approached the Pietermaritzburg Council of Churches for aid the next day and the affected families were provided with aid.
In Edendale there were a number of confrontations between police and youth, particularly in Georgetown, where a person was shot dead by the police. Some vehicles going through Edendale were attacked by armed anti-Inkatha people, and certainly in Gezabuso there were also some attacks, and I believe two people died.
Wednesday, the 28th of March, day four. Now, I've tried to summarise what in some ways is an extremely complicated series of events, and I am going to ask my colleague here to put some transparencies on here as the -it would be helpful if that light up there could be dowsed briefly. Early in the morning Inkatha members from a number of settlements along the main road in Vulindlela, outlined - no, it's got to go higher up. At various places along the road through Vulindlela - Sikeleni bus stop at Gezabuso, the Ndluli bus stop at KwaShange, and Induna Gavaza Khanyile's homestead at Ezibomvini KwaShange - Inkatha groups began to muster. Some of these people
marched west towards the Eshowe meeting place, which is a KwaZulu Government near Taylor's Halt. Others were picked up by trucks and other vehicles. David Ntombela appears to have been the chief supervisor of this process. Question: given the enormous amount of activity involved in groups of people going to muster along the main road, and other groups marching towards Taylor's Halt, why did a police security forces contingency plan not immediately swing into action?
Reports were received that the impis had been called out at daybreak, but had delayed going into action as there was a meeting with a Ulundi official, a Mr Mthethwa, at Eshowe at Taylor's Halt at some time between 8.00 or 10.00 am. At Ntombela's homestead at Nqane several thousand people had gathered. Police were present at the scene - four SAP, two Toyotas and two Casspirs, and two KwaZulu Police vehicles, two Toyotas - and must have been aware of what was happening. While the men were sprayed with war medicine, "inthelezi," all the women were ordered into a building, where they had to take their clothes off and then put them on inside out. They then had to march up and down the road outside the whole day singing incantations.
A number of blue unmarked lorries, together with a number of smaller vehicles, all with their numberplates covered with cloth or mud, arrived with a large number of warriors from Mnyavu, which is in the Umgeni Valley below Cato Ridge. They arrived at Ntombela's place. Question: who requested the support of warriors from the Amnyavu in the Umgeni Valley below Cato Ridge, and who supplied the KwaZulu Government trucks to transport them to Taylor's
Halt? This logistical support suggests prior planning of the attacks. If this is correct, who were the parties to this conspiracy?
At about 9.30 about 20 trucks with covered up ZG numberplates drove through Taylor's Halt. They went up towards groups of Inkatha who appeared to be waiting for them. People got on and the trucks returned and drove to the Eshowe area, where they grouped together next to the KwaZulu Transport KZT bus depot. Other people arrived there on foot. Later ... (intervention)
MR LYSTER: Please don't distribute the books while the witness is talking. Please can people take their seats. Sorry, I apologise for the interruption. Please continue.
PROFESSOR AITCHISON: Later this convoy of lorries and trucks, followed by a large crowd on foot, travelled down the road towards Gezabuso, KwaShange, Vulisaka, KwaMnyandu and Edendale, and dropped armed men at various spots so that attacked communities could be encircled. These attackers were joined by some Inkatha people from the local mustering point. In all the force is estimated to have been about 12 000 strong.
Attacks then took place. With their superior fire power the Inkatha attackers routed the defenders, killing numbers of them. Homesteads were destroyed and property looted and cattle driven off. The attacks were observed by police, who had also watched the mustering of the morning. During an aerial survey undertaken by the Democratic Party and the Natal Witness over the areas where the attacks were taking place at least 25 police vehicles were seen and no SADF vehicles. Red Ford Huskys, presumably also police vehicles, were also present. The
police generally seemed to have ignored the Inkatha attackers when the youth in attacked communities tried to defend their homes. There are statements that allege that police on some occasions actually participated in the attacks. Certainly a number of people in "kits konstabel" uniforms did. There are numerous reports of attacks and shootings taking place in the presence of the police, some of whom have been named in statements. Sometimes at the end of the attacks police on the ground, or from the police helicopter circling overhead, fired tear gas.
Three questions. Why did the police not stop huge armed groups coming down the main road from Taylor's Halt? Why did special constables and KwaZulu Police participate in the attacks, and on whose orders? Why did the police not send substantial forces into the area once it was apparent to all that a major attack was in progress?
During this period of mayhem observed by the police a totally under-employed SADF convoy of armoured vehicles was lethargically driving up and down the main road in Edendale. Question: why were SADF forces not asked by the police to enter the battle area, which clearly the police were not containing?
At Gezabuso, early in the morning the Inkatha group had gathered, as I have already mentioned. David Ntombela arrived with vehicles and collected people, and returned with them towards Taylor's Halt. Minor damage was caused by this group. Later, when the main attack started, the convoy of trucks, cars and lorries arrived, followed by a large crowd on foot. Some of these moved on to attack KwaShange, and the remainder attacked Gezabuso. Then the group, returning later in the day from KwaShange, attacked
Gezabuso as well. Most of the attacks seemed to have been taking place between in the morning and early afternoon.
A first group ... (inaudible - end of Side A, Cassette 1) ... it was wet, and for which there was soon a shortage. At KwaShange by early morning the attack - the people were expecting the attack as they had seen all the movement on the main road across the valley. A group had mustered at Induna Gavaza Khanyile's place, and there were minor skirmishes between the KwaShange community and this group of Inkatha supporters.
There appear to have been three main assaults on this particular community. The first group of attackers came from Chief Shayabantu Zondi's place, and was led by Zazini Skiliki Zondi, the chief's brother. It was small, about 200 strong, but well armed, and included a group of "kits konstabels," including Philelani Stuart Zuma and Jerome Indaba. They came from Chief Shayabantu Zondi's place above Umvundleweni.
The second group had assembled at Induna Gavaza Khanyile's homestead on the border with Ezibomvini. Allegedly this group included Chief Shayabantu Zondi, Lololombo, Bhekamuzi Gcabashe, Ntonjani Gcabashe and Mtwasi Zondi. The first and second groups combined and later went down towards Henley.
The third group came last from Taylor's Halt via Gezabuso, and comprised about 16 ZG trucks and smaller vehicles, as well as many people on foot. This group was allegedly led by David Ntombela, or somebody driving his car. The group may have been joined by other attackers who came over the hills from Sweetwaters, Umbubu and Impande. Some of these trucks may also have continued to
Ezibomvini, and after attacking there returned to KwaShange with other attackers on foot. This group attacked KwaShange Number 2 and burnt houses at KwaShange.
Both the first and the third group approached KwaShange via the main road, and had to cross over the only bridge over the flooded Umsunduzi River. There was apparently some resistance by the KwaShange community, but according to a number of witnesses the police who accompanied the third group then went in front and helped the attackers cross this point. Interestingly the SABC footage you saw has an aerial shot of the group going over that bridge, and in fact the car, David Ntombela's Sierra, is in fact in that footage. The one place which could have been effectively used to block most of the attackers reaching KwaShange - an armoured vehicle on that bridge could have done wonders. Why were no efforts made to stop attackers from leaving the main road and crossing the bridge over the flooded Umsunduzi to KwaShange?
In KwaShange over 120 houses were burnt and property looted. Cattle was driven off. At least 11 men and women were murdered. The people fled, tried to cross the flood Umsunduzi River. At least one person drowned. At about 3.00 pm a local policeman came with two white policemen and they told people that it was impossible to stop the attackers. There were only three of them and they didn't have the manpower. They told people hiding in shops to run away to places of safety. Later there was one incident in which police in a Ford Husky shot at some of the looters.
At Ezibomvini there were attacks. At Vulisaka again attacks, people killed. At KwaMnyandu there were
further attacks where a group of returning people from KwaShange went through Umvundleweni and attacked KwaMnyandu from the south, while another group which had gone along the main road to cut off the people fleeing across the Umsunduzi from KwaShange, encircled KwaMnyandu and the place was attacked. A police helicopter circled above KwaMnyandu while it was attacked. Two attempts by youths to defend the community failed, and the youth fled towards Edendale. Among the dead were elderly women in the community.
Meanwhile back in Edendale, in Umphumuza/Xaluza sector again there were various forays by Inkatha forces into Simero, Siyamo, Esikodini and Ashdown. Police were shot at by defenders on a number of occasions, and they in turn opened fire on defenders and a number of people were killed. The situation calmed somewhat when army vehicles arrived.
Thursday, the 29th of March. A second attack on KwaMnyandu in midmorning led by Inkatha forces from Chief Shayabantu Zondi's place. Police and "kits konstabels" and possibly KwaZulu Police again involved. A number of people were killed and wounded, and more houses burned and looted and people driven off. More police finally arrived and the attackers withdrew. Question: why on the Thursday was there again no effective police presence to stop the attack on KwaMnyandu?
However, the police were active in Edendale, where they stopped a march by 500 unarmed women protesting against police partisanship and inaction against the attackers, and told them to disperse or force, including tear gas and birdshot, would be used. 11 women were
arrested by Lieutenant O'Connell. This hard line on peaceful women demonstrators was in stark contrast to their soft line on armed impis wreaking mayhem in the region.
That evening Inkatha forces were seen returning to Ntombela's place at Nqane. Ntombela had been interviewed during the day by the Natal Witness reporters. He denied that anybody from his area had been involved in any violence. He said he was in contact with other Inkatha leaders in the region, and that he had no knowledge of punitive raids being launched in retaliation for the stoning on buses on Sunday and Monday. He said he knew of only one Inkatha person killed during the week.
That night four people in KwaNqane were murdered. Again further skirmishes in Xaluza, Simero and Ashdown. Police were active searching and disarming youths going to defend their borders. Several clashes in Ashdown, and again the Inkatha attackers on Xaluza returned that night to Chief Nsikayezwa's homestead and encamped. There were several buses at this base.
That day as well Mpophomeni was attacked by a 500 strong force of Inkatha from KwaShisho. There finally withdrew. And that evening again there was an attack and the Catholic church was slightly damaged by the attackers. In that evening there was almost continuous shooting in Imbali, and a number of houses came under attack from Inkatha groups who roamed around the township on foot and in vehicles. Calls to the Riot Unit to respond to pleas for help were not acted upon. The Imbali support group, three members of whom were staying in a house, saw their vehicle shot up by a group, including two white men, and
it was later in the night petrol bombed. Repeated
attempts to get the SADF to deploy were frustrated by the police. A 10 platoon convoy waited fruitlessly outside Huletts Aluminium for the police to call them in at the height of the Imbali shooting. When calls requesting SADF back up were made they were told by the police that the army was just off duty and tired. Eventually, apparently at SADF insistence, as they were being deluged by calls for help, they were told to meet the SAP at Huletts Aluminium at 10 to seven in the evening. 10 platoons were there at the height of the shooting fruitlessly awaiting the police. The police never came and they returned to their base and played volleyball. A number of African callers to the emergency service 10111 claim that they were told to ring F W de Klerk and Mandela. Police consistently refused to call in the SADF, who were under-used.
Saturday, 31st of March. Another attack on Mpophomeni. At Vulindlela a number of meetings at Ntombela's place and Chief Ngcobo's place. A fair amount of hysteria as the community, it suddenly dawned on them, were now cut off from food resources in Pietermaritzburg. An eminent person group visited Edendale and Vulindlela during the day. The met a heavily armed David Ntombela near Taylor's Halt. He now blamed the stoning of buses by youths for the current strife, and that Inkatha people were only defending themselves.
In Imbali sporadic shooting continued. A number of people were killed and wounded and homes burnt. Virtually every street in Imbali was barricaded with burning tyres, cars and rubble. There are many eye witness accounts of
Inkatha vehicles, including a six-ton truck manned by
about 15 people with rifles and shotguns, driving through the area firing at random at residents. There are also reports of police providing weapons and ammunition to Inkatha people, notable at Manyoni's house. Late in that evening some army vehicles entered the area and it became quieter.
And that is the end of my account of that week. Very briefly, to conclude, the aftermath. There were 20 000 refugees in Edendale and Pietermaritzburg, most of whom had lost everything. The so-called civil defence of this municipality refused to help the refugees for fear of being partisan. The Government did not offer much help. Deputy Minister Tertius Delport, in a statement of breathtaking inhumanity, said that not a cent would be spent in the region until violence ended, and so the refugees were punished further. The area was not declared a disaster area, and why was it not? The army was called in eventually to stabilise the situation, which it did after a fashion, and the death toll dropped to a regular 35 or so a month in the Midlands for the rest of the year.
Police investigations into the nearly 100 murders in the seven-day week can at best be described as derisory. Unpublicised so-called informal inquests did not suggest that anybody in particular should be prosecuted. Again, why were full inquests not held?
In the middle of the year violence erupted in the Witwatersrand. International journalists returned to Johannesburg and the Natal Midlands was forgotten, although what had happened in this region offered many clues to the origins of the violence in the Transvaal.
Some people did care. The Midlands Crisis Relief
Committee did great work. The South African Council of Churches, the international church community, other religious groups, foreign governments, alongside organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a variety of human rights organisations who documented what had happened.
Six years after the Seven Days War the murderers of men, women and children remain seemingly immune from justice. Those who planned the attacks and those who allowed them to happen unhindered have for the time being escaped earthly justice. The people of this region know who they are and will not forget. Neither will they forget those who died and suffered in this first false dawn of the new South Africa. And I leave two final questions. Why were key leaders such as Chief Zondi, Philip Zondi, David Ntombela, Lololombo and Gavaza Khanyile not formally questioned about or prosecuted for their obvious role in the attacks? And lastly, why was no apparent action taken to make senior policemen, including General Buchner, account for their actions and inactions in relation to the ... (incomplete)