Inkatha, police resume violence

Wednesday, August 28, 1991

By Norm Dixon

Only days after the worldwide condemnation of the apartheid regime's collusion with Inkatha, the South African security forces were again found to be actively aiding Inkatha violence, according to a report that appeared in the Johannesburg-based Southern Africa Report.

On August 3, Inkatha staged a violent demonstration in Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg, under the guise of a "rubbish clean-up". By the end of the day two people were dead and at least 10 injured, three seriously.

The "clean-up" drive was organised by the Sandton branch of Inkatha together with other Inkatha branches in white suburbs and from Alexandra. Some 100 local Inkatha members assembled, joined by at least another 100 bussed in from Soweto's Diepmeadow area. They were handed plastic bags and then set off through the streets.

As well as plastic bags, this menacing parade carried sticks and staves, sharp-pointed iron bars, machetes, axes and bayonets.

The mob was followed closely by a convoy of heavily armed security police, riding four armoured troop carriers, known as casspirs, and several police-filled minivans. At least 100 police were in attendance.

One of the casspirs tried to flatten a small tree growing on a sandy patch outside a house while a prancing Inkatha member slashed a dog at the side of the road, killing it. A passing man collapsed with blood oozing from a machete slash to his head. The Inkatha mob began stoning residents and then rushed wildly about, slashing anybody in their path. One man was described by Alexandra Health Clinic acting director David Robb as having been disembowelled.

The watching police called on the attackers through megaphones to stop. Police later claimed they fired rubber bullets to control the rampage. However, angry residents described the events as an organised joint show of force by Inkatha and the police.

Reporters on the scene asked police why they did not disarm the Inkatha mob or arrest those responsible for the attacks. Police responded by rolling up their windows and driving off.

Just the night before, the government had lifted Alexandra's "unrest area" designation, which had been in force for many months. This meant that Inkatha members were free to carry their so-called "cultural weapons" in public.

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