Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Africa's Orchestrated Massacres

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Africa's Orchestrated Massacres

Article excerpt

THE June 18 massacre at a black squatter camp in South Africa by Inkatha Freedom Party supporters reportedly assisted by South African police was predicted by a carefully documented 100-page report issued by Amnesty International a week before. Amnesty's report characterizes the South African military and police as guilty of "complicity" in the slaughter of over 7,000 blacks in political violence during the past two years.

While noting that all parties, including the African National Congress (ANC), have committed human rights abuses, Amnesty states that the overwhelming majority of victims appear to be affiliated with the ANC and that, in instance after instance, the military and police joined Inkatha attacks against the ANC, transported Inkatha vigilantes in police vehicles, stood by or directed while Inkatha attacked, and intervened to stop ANC supporters from defending themselves.

Amnesty gives the following account of killings at the Sawnieville squatter camp near Johannesburg last year: "The camp was attacked by ... men armed with guns, spears, and other weapons at about 5:30 a.m. on May 12, 1991. Awakened by the sound of gunfire, terrified residents attempted to flee the invaders who, in the words of one survivor, `killed everything they could see.' Twenty-nine people died, 30 others were injured, and over 80 shacks destroyed.

"{E}ye witnesses reported that they had seen white men in camouflage uniforms among the attackers ... shooting at the residents, while black men in red headbands {the insignia of Inkatha Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's supporters} were looting and burning the shacks. {Many witnesses also said} they had seen police or military armored vehicles either unloading groups of black men or moving alongside the armed men as the shooting began. One 48-year-old woman said she saw white police officers shooting from a Hippo {a South African armored personnel carrier}, while men with red headbands came out of the vehicle and started burning shacks and stabbing men with spears...."

Amnesty catalogs other evidence of security force responsibility for violence. In November, 1990, a judicial commission, appointed by President Frederik de Klerk to study allegations of government death squads, concluded that a secret South African military unit, calling itself the "Civilian Cooperation Bureau," assassinated anti-apartheid activists. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.