An interpretation of political violence in Lamont and KwaMashu.
The field of political violence is introduced with an overview of anti-State political violence in South Africa between 1 January 1977 and 21 July 1985. Incidents of political violence in that period were classified into one of three categories, each of which reflects different sources of political violence. Subsequently, the research analysed what is referred to 'spontaneous' collective violence in two of Durban's townships Lamont and KwaMashu. The theoretical framework for the analysis of this type of behaviour is provided by T.R. Gurr using the formula: MPV = RD + (RD x JUST x BALANCE) where MPV is the magnitude of political violence; RD is discontent; JUST is the justifications for engaging in violence; and BALANCE is the ratio of support for, and coercive capacity of, dissidents vis-a-vis the State. The weight of each variable (RD, JUST and BALANCE) was assessed in Lamont and KwaMashu through interviews with 25 group leaders from both townships and by various inferential techniques. While discontent was found to be universal in both townships, the justifications for engaging in violence as a strategy to alleviate that discontent and alter existing power relations were found to be a function of ideology. For the purposes of this research two ideological classifications were employed: 'reactionaries' (those organisations operating within government created institutions, including bantustans, e.g. Inkatha); and 'progressives' (those organisations operating outside government created institutions and which are popularly labelled the Left e.g. the United Democratic Front). In Durban there is a specific spatial distribution of ideology which has resulted in support for, and the coercive capacity of, reactionaries' being greatest in bantustan townships ' (e.g. KwaMashu), while among 'progressives' support and coercive capacity are highest in townships in 'white' South Africa (e.g. Lamont). The distribution of ideology has its origins in historical forces which are discussed in detail. The question to be answered thus remains at what point does political violence reach a crescendo? This question was answered by identifying the issues precipitating political violence in Lamont and KwaMashu and then analysing specific incidents. Frequently, the most intense collective violence erupted when resistance to State hegemony was interpreted by the State, or its proxies, as challenging the existing status quo. In Lamont the State has directly intervened to crush resistance through the use of its security forces while in KwaMashu Inkatha vigilantes have acted as proxies for the State.