|dc.description.abstract||The political violence and vigilante activities that characterised Natal and Zululand
between 1985 and 1996 had numerous causes. The formation of the United Democratic
Front (UDF) in 1983 contributed to the rise of vigilantism and political violence. The
formation of the Congress of the South African Trade Union (COSATU) in 1985
compounded this situation. Both these movements were known to be sympathetic to the
African National Congress (ANC), which was still banned at the time of their formation;
hence they had similar objectives to the ANC. During this time, Inkatha was the only
strong Black political movement in the country, and particularly in Natal and Zululand.
The Inkatha movement and its leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi regarded the formation of
the UDF and COSATU in 1985 as a challenge to the hegemony of Inkatha in the region,
following his fall-out with the ANC leadership in exile. Local leadership of political
movements, namely, UDF and COSATU on one hand and Inkatha on the other,
mobilised their support-base and took arms against each other. The lifting of the State of
Emergency in 1986 intensified political violence and vigilante activities in the region.
The Natal Midlands’ violence saw a high number of deaths and causalities. Local
communities as well such as Vulindlela suffered a great deal.
Clan faction fights were characteristic of KwaShange in the period 1940s-1970s, but
from the late 1980s onwards (especially 1987) political unrest and struggle against the
Nationalist apartheid regime changed into conflict between Inkatha and the UDF, which
gradually worsened into civil war. In the course of my previous studies in KwaShange I
discovered that the violence had impacted upon families and inter-generational
relationships. According to some senior residents’ thinking, a number of youths were ill disciplined.
Issues of disciplining of youths had obscured the political struggle and
violence, making it hard to disentangle them. When researching memories of the
violence, I found that persons spoke of different incidents within this struggle period and
described their violent nature and how it had impacted on families’ survival, both
psychologically and physically. The interviewees kept saying that it was hard to forget
the memories engendered by their horrific experiences. The South African Government was accused of secretly provoking acts of violence in
Natal and Zululand and was furthermore accused of having sent IFP troops to the Caprivi
in Namibia for training in guerrilla combat. The Government later acknowledged this,
explaining that the Natal Legislature needed specially trained forces for its officials. The
unbanning of political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 saw KwaZulu-
Natal entering a new phase of random vigilante activities and violence. The security
forces (the South African Police and the South African Defence Force) were accused of
supporting IFP vigilantes. All this led to the “Seven Days War” in 1990 in the Midlands,
particularly in KwaVulindlela. In KwaShange this violence, from 1986 until 1996,
created divisions in families and the community. Many people lost their lives. All efforts
to put an end to the violence and vigilantism failed. The announcement that the first
democratic election in South Africa was to be held in 1994 triggered more violence in
Vulindlela. Exhaustion in the area, and a national climate which promoted peace were
elements which eventually brought the conflict to an end. Socially and economically, the area is still experiencing problems. Survivors and
generations born during and after the turmoil talk about endless psychological and
emotional suffering born during this turmoil.
My contention is that trauma experienced as a result of this violence and its consequences
influenced the lives of all persons affected by it, and that this was transmitted across
generations, through whole families and communities. It must be realized that these
people and their families were affected for a long time, and many are still traumatised.
The social structure of the community has been affected by it and by implication that of
successive generations will also be affected.
This study describes and analyses political violence in KwaShange and investigates how
it is remembered by the survivors. It also attempts to answer the question of how
communities, families and individuals survived these traumatic experiences, how they
coped (or failed to cope) with their experiences, both then and fifteen years after the end
By focusing on KwaShange as a case study of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, I hope to determine what was in play in the province, and find a common pattern
underlying the dynamics of the conflicts. Pre-civil war divisions have not, up to the present, been confronted, and these fuelled the political affiliations that were a response
to the struggle against the apartheid regime.||en