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  1. #1
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    Default Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    The theatre of operations in the present war occupies a space of approximately 374 square kilometres. Conflict has chiefly occurred in the Edendale valley west of the city, and in the adjoining rural area of Vulindlela, a part of KwaZulu which stretches far to the west and north of Edendale. With the exception of a brief period at the end of 1987, this vast region has always been an Inkatha stronghold....

    ....The war is not a foreign phenomenon consigned to a distant border. In these ravaged areas, the war zone is everywhere. Every road, ditch, yard, river, house and hillside is a war zone. Buses, taxis, privately owned cars, police vehicles - all these constitute arenas of battle. There is no escaping this war, it occupies no defined space or time; it does not knock off in the evenings or at weekends and the spectre of sudden and arbitrary death hangs over the townships and robs the residents of their sleep....


    ...The police, for example, cannot tolerate having the situation around Pietermaritzburg described as a war. 'War' implies that there is a complete breakdown of the normal channels for defusing and controlling social conflict. In South Africa only the South African Defence Force is legally entitled to wage war and it is the role of the South African Police to prevent any other groups from doing so. Therefore to refer to an area of the country as a 'war zone' amounts to an explicit criticism of the police on the grounds of incompetence and a witting or unwitting failure to perform their proper functions.

    Consequently the police use the word 'unrest' to describe political violence in black areas of the country. It is a weaker word than 'war', implying little more than a surge of discontent.

    The state in its official pronouncements on the situation in Pietermaritzburg says either that everything is under control or that there is black-on-black violence taking place. This is a deceptive term coined by the government to diminish the importance of the protests in black townships around the country in 1984/5. Certain sectors of the media latched gratefully onto the phrase and even some foreign commentators were taken in by it. What is at best a dubious and flawed description is passed off as an explanation....

    The Nuts and Bolts of War


    Out in the rural areas, chiefs and indunas - almost all of whom owe their allegiance to Inkatha - can exact their traditional rights from farmers and homesteaders in the form of military duty. In return for favours ranging from land allocation to the issuing of licences, these rural potentates can call on the inhabitants of their fiefdoms to fight when necessary. This is not a legal obligation, but a difficult summons to resist nonetheless. The chronicles of violence are littered with the stories of those families who did resist and were given an ultimatum - usually a day - to leave the area. If they failed to comply they were wiped out.

    Another source of soldiers for Inkatha is the great crowds of men bussed in to attend Inkatha rallies. They are grafted onto the local army, thereby creating a force of formidable numbers. These armies are led by local leaders (usually dubbed 'warlords') or their seconds-in-command. In the main, the leaders are drawn from the ranks of the chiefs, indunas and local Inkatha branch chairmen. The warlords provide food, transport and bellicose incitements to action; and what guns there are, they distribute.

    The foot soldiers of Inkatha use a variety of weapons. The most common are the knobkerrie - a wooden stave with a heavy bulb at one end - and the assegai - a short stabbing spear used in hand-to-hand combat. Also popular is the panga or bush-knife, a slightly curved broad-bladed knife used equally effectively for cutting back weeds, harvesting crops and hacking people to pieces. Soldiers often come equipped with pockets of stones and cans of petrol to start and finish the job. Finally there are a number of handguns, a few rifles and shotguns available to a privileged few. Many of these are purchased by warlords and Inkatha leaders who have been granted firearm licences. Others have a more murky provenance - no-one knows quite where they come from. In the townships there is widespread belief that warmongers in the security police are running guns to Inkatha members and that other guns come in from Ulundi through the KwaZulu Police, but there is no solid proof that this is the case.

    The comrades for their part put together armies from a reserve of refugees, members of local UDF-affiliated youth organisations, and residents of non-Inkatha areas who are politically non-aligned but want to defend themselves from Inkatha attacks. There is also increasing evidence of men being press-ganged into joining UDF forces.

    The comrades arm themselves with stones, sticks, pangas and smaller knives. They too are expert in the uses of petrol: at no stage during this war has either side made use of the infamous necklace method of killing, although many people have been burnt to death. The comrades also favour two other deadly weapons: the first is a club made from a solid metal rod with a heavy bolt welded across the bottom. The weapon is wielded like a mace, and one blow would disintegrate a skull of iron. The second weapon looks like a walking stick, except that a long metal spike protrudes out of the end. This can be concealed in the ground like the point of a shooting-stick.

    When it comes to weapons the comrades have need to be inventive as they have practically no guns. Whenever one surfaces it is confiscated at once by the police, and its owners detained and charged with unlawful possession of firearms. To overcome this disadvantage, a variety of home-made guns have been manufactured, but these are rare and unreliable and there remains the problem of obtaining suitable ammunition.

    The fact that Inkatha completely outguns its enemies has unquestionably kept the death rate in the war lower than would otherwise have been the case, but this objective consideration provides small comfort to the comrades.

    In the early stages of the fighting, members of the various youth organisations appealed to the township youth to set about establishing defence committees to defend those non-Inkatha areas under attack from Inkatha supporters. Committee members would be constantly on the alert: at the height of the fighting, sentries would be posted throughout each area, awake and on watch all night waiting for the first whispering approach of a hostile force - with contingents of back-up fighters, asleep but able to be roused and mobilised immediately. Following Biblical precedent they slept with their weapons in their hands.

    Defence committees from different areas established codes of communication. In the event of an attack, whistles from one defence committee would be heard and 'read' by another, which in turn would issue a call for all men to go to the assistance of the section under attack. Armed, and following the direction of the whistling, this auxiliary force would arrive to reinforce its comrades.

    The UDF forces are led by committee members of the youth organisations, sometimes boys no older than 15. Leadership is often split between those with an aptitude for political and military strategy, and those with an aptitude for fighting. The leaders of comrade armies do not have it easy. They are the first to be detained by the police or assassinated by their enemies. In addition, although it may be possible to gather an army together, it is not a simple matter to maintain it. Food and shelter are necessary, as are victory and hope, and these resources are not easily come by. More than that, a large body of young men suffers from a crucial problem - they are too visible. Any gathering over a certain size is immediately spotted by the police who arrive in copious numbers of yellow vans to break things up.

    The Inkatha armies do not seem to share this handicap. Huge bands of armed men range over wide areas of the landscape, chanting, singing, threatening and even attacking people, and yet they are neither stopped nor challenged by the police. Velaphi Ndlovu, KwaZulu MP for Imbali and a senior Inkatha member, ascribes this unusual "laissez faire" attitude of the police to the essential 'Zuluness' of the Inkatha bands. "It's the necessary cultural thing", he says. By this he means that marches of armed Inkatha warriors are merely a harmless, cathartic cultural expression of tribal identity. Many Zulus living in the Pietermaritzburg area who have fallen victim to the cultural fervour with which Inkatha supporters play out their traditional role would disagree with Ndlovu's characterisation.
    ...

    https://www.csvr.org.za/publications...nder-the-knife
    Last edited by KK20; 25-03-2020 at 01:07.
    live out your imagination , not your history.

  2. #2
    Moderator KK20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    At the time there was a state of emergency and news was blacked out . This event unfortunately slipped through quietly and is almost forgotten.
    live out your imagination , not your history.

  3. #3
    Moderator KK20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    DURING the single week from 25 to 31 March 1990 a small-scale war took
    place to the west of Pietermaritzburg. According to the Truth and Reconcili-
    ation Commission (TRC), 200 people died and 20 000 were displaced. They
    were mainly from Ashdown, Caluza, Mpumuza, Gezubuso, KwaShange and
    KwaMnyandu in the lower Vulindlela and Edendale areas. There are no
    figures for those who were injured or disabled.2
    Twenty years later ruined,
    abandoned buildings were still to be found from what became known as the
    Seven Day War.3
    At the same time, with superior media coverage, the battle
    for Beirut was taking place across the Green Line between Syrian forces and
    General Michel Auon’s Lebanese army: 300 people were killed and 1 200 injured.

    A small civil war: political conflict
    in the Pietermaritzburg region in
    the 1980s and early 1990s 1
    by Christopher Merrett
    live out your imagination , not your history.

  4. #4
    Moderator KK20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    Amongst the ranks of kitskonstabels were Caprivi (Operation Marion) trainees versed in the ways of army special forces....

    https://www.fromthethornveld.co.za/4...on-commission/
    live out your imagination , not your history.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    It’s part of our history that is an uncomfortable truth and needs to be remembered . Thanks for the share KK
    Don’t take life too seriously, no one gets out alive.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    I agree with Cordite.....this is very uncomfortable, but very important.

    Thanks for putting this up here, KK. Looking forward to more, if you find anything.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    A rather apt time to keep faction fighting in mind.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    Interesting that when tourists go on Battlefield tours: battlefields from the Voortrekker - Zulu, Anglo-Zulu, Anglo-Boer I and Anglo-Boer II wars are visited.
    However, there is no inclination to visit these battlefields from this very recent war.
    Could it be that the wounds are still to raw? Maybe a certain amount of time need to pass before nostalgia can replace horror about a war?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Thirty years ago the Seven Day War in Pietermaritzburg Natal

    Completely agree with you, Doc.

    I was in my late teens in at the time, and growing up in the coastal sugar cane belt of the South Coast. Most of my Zulu friends supported, or said that they supported (hard to tell whether they stated this under duress at the time) Inkatha. From the little I knew and also wanting to allign with my friends - I thought that they were the good guys........as I have learnt, there are actually very few honestly good guys when it comes to war, and wars are fueled on fear and greed.

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