A chronology of events
Because of technical hitches, this chronology of events (beginning with the present and working backwards), including some analysis (usually by SK) has been made into a new page with this link to the old page. The chronology here goes back to June 1st 2016, but the link to the original page shows events going back to 2013. I’ve also included – after this chronology – links to many texts on events there (Mandela’s death, the Soweto uprising of 1976, sexual abuse in ANC camps during the apartheid era, etc. Just added on 15th August 2016: Letter from Iranian Workers, 1991)
South Africa, North West: armoured cop vehicle burnt out during heavy clashes potesting lousy service delivery“…roads to and from surrounding areas such as Ottosdal, Coligny and Sannieshof were re-opened on Monday afternoon after being barricaded by dissatisfied Lichtenburg protesters protesting over housing and better service delivery. Four trucks were set alight in the area,”
South Africa, Limpopo: looting during protest “…residents blocked roads leading to Polokwane…The violence then escalated to the township itself where people started looting shops, including a KFC outlet at the Seshego mall. A truck belonging to a businessman was torched…The suspects then later took advantage of the nightfall and broke into the Total Sport store at the Seshego mall and looted some items. An attempt was made to break into Foschini store” .No explanation of what the protest was about in this article.
South Africa, Johannesburg: wildcat strike in gold mine ends after over 2 weeks See also entry for 24/3/17
South Africa, Cape Town: housing activists occupy empty rooms in state buildings …Gauteng: school burnt down after resistance to eviction of land squatters …Johannesburg: wildcat strike begins in gold mine
South Africa, Gauteng: amidst spate of xenophobic attacks on foreign-owned shops, cops say this looting is not specifically targetted at foreigners “…a group of hostel dwellers in the area were dispersed with rubber bullets and stun grenades …”We believe it’s just criminal acts by these members of the public,” Dlamini said. The looting of shops in the area started on Sunday night. One person was arrested when some shops and a preschool were looted and vandalised.”
South Africa, North West: 6 shops looted over days of protest over lack of water This claims that it was foreign-owned shops that were looted, but the media almost invariably say this even when it’s not exclusively the case. We don’t know if this xenophobic-targetting took place in this instance.
South Africa, Western Cape: more student – cop clashes “Clashes broke out between police, campus security and University of the Western Cape (UWC) students on Monday afternoon, with a campus vehicle being overturned and graffiti spray painted on buildings. Exams started at four off-campus venues on Monday morning, but when shuttles arrived to transport students to these locations, protesters tried to stop them from leaving. Police and protesters on Monday afternoon faced off at the student residences, with protesters throwing rocks at authorities. A number of windows at residences were broken, bottles and rocks lay scattered in the vicinity, and messages in red and black spray paint were scrawled across the walls.”
South Africa, Cape Town: central business district brought to a standstill as students clash with cops outside parliament More here. “Violence was sparked just before 15:00 following a generally peaceful day when a mock Blade Nzimande “coffin” was set alight and thrown from the protesters’ side over the heads of police officers. A police officer extinguished the “coffin”. Stun grenades were released in quick succession, and chaos ensued. Protesters ran down Plein, Roeland, Barrack and Commercial streets, followed by police armed with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Students retaliated by removing bricks from the Plein Street pavements, breaking them in half, and throwing them, along with stones from a nearby renovation. A water cannon was used to prevent protesters running further down Plein Street, forcing them down a side street. …Bins were overturned and set alight in Strand and Barrack streets. In Plein Street, a police van window was shattered, a stationary civilian car was damaged, and the window of a KFC was also damaged”…students threaten to arrest wives of cops if cops beat them up…2m. rand’s worth of damage “Thousands of people who protested in the city centre on Wednesday left a hefty damages bill in their wake as they went on the rampage , looting shops and destroying private property and businesses…..The protesters caused damage to restaurants, buses, police cars and city property, leaving companies to pick up the pieces and determine the damages….the city was aware of one Law Enforcement vehicle, four metro police vehicles, two police vehicles, one MyCiTi bus, one private vehicle and a number of buildings in the Parliament precinct that were damaged by protesters. Smith said the extent of the damages could total R2 million.”
South Africa, Johannesburg: student leader hospitalised by cops’ rubber bullets after arson attack on library and disruption of lecture “…students were singing peacefully on campus when police fire at them with rubber bullets. They also used teargas….former SRC president Shaeera Kalla was shot at least nine times even though she held her hands up…. students had disrupted a lecture and tore up test papers on the west campus. She said police reacted by dispersing them. Earlier, the university said a case of arson was being investigated by the police after a section of a library was set alight, damaging at least 100 books.”…Port Elizabeth: more student clashes…Pretoria: and more clashes with cops outside presidential palace “About 500 students marched to Pretoria from the city center to the presidential palace, flanked by many police…The demonstrators then threw projectiles including stones against the police, who responded with two shots from stun grenades….The striking students held signs demanding “Free education for all” or proclaiming “South Africa is profoundly unequal.” “The wealth of this country is confined to the pockets of a few parasites who own the mines, banks and hotels,” said one of the leaders of the revolt, Mametlwe Sebei. “One night at the Sheraton Hotel is the equivalent to the monthly salary of five workers,” he shouted to his peers gathered in front of the hotel.”… student leader killed by hit-and-run driver
South Africa, Johannesburg: students chase away vice-chancellor at meeting attempting peace agreement following refusal of bail to student leader “After the decision, angry students left the court singing Struggle songs and then headed for the main campus in Braamfontein, where they convened a mass meeting. …It got off to a shaky start when the students chased away Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib. They shouted at Habib, branding him a “sinner” and said he should release Dlamini before he could speak to them.” Bizarre for an atheist like me to hear “sinner” used as a derogatory term, but then this was the vice–chancellor, ho ho. [SF] More here…Cape Town: heavy clashes leads to suspension of lectures for rest of year “…police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades on Wednesday to disperse hundreds of student protesters demanding free education at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town….A private security guard was badly beaten by demonstrators in the latest clash and a campus building was set on fire”
SK recommends this radio discussion: What does decolonisation in education look like?, saying “It presents an example of the sharpest sort of perspectives to emerge from the movement at present. What is most positive about this sort of discussion is the possibility that people across the country will begin to give it practical expression in all the spaces they struggle to transform, and beyond. As has been said before, both by myself and others, we have not seen anything like that at all yet, but the fact that we can at least hear the desire for it among some people like Brian Kamanzi — on national radio no less — is already a significant sign of the times, indicating a very encouraging move in that direction.”
South Africa, KwaZulu Natal: more student – cop conflicts “The day-two of this week of clashes between students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal saw petrol bombs fly, coming from the student’s residence towards police. The campus was a war zone for more than two hours on Tuesday morning. The situation forced the closure of some roads within the campus. The National Intervention Unit was called on to campus. They made their way into the students residences and raided the place. Eight students, who allegedly led an attack on police earlier, were arrested and it was later found that they are not registered UKZN students. A student who spoke under condition of anonymity says their bus was attacked upon arrival at the campus. “We are not comfortable around here. Now, even if you want to use the toilet, you find there are security guards there guarding with guns. Can you imagine. There is no freedom at all. The moment we arrived here there were students there. I am not sure if they are students but they threw stones at our bus.” …Port Elizabeth: watter cannon, rubber bullets, stun grenades & tear gas v. rocks as students continue shutdown of university “The university was expected to resume classes on Tuesday after it had been closed for four weeks. However, at around 05:30 a group of about 500 students blocked the main entrance – wearing balaclavas and wielding rocks. They used their residence mattresses to block the entrance. Thirty minutes later police arrived on the scene and …told the students that if they did not disperse they would be detained …Police gave students three warnings before moving in. Students retaliated by launching a hail of rocks at them, which led to police moving in with a water cannon. A clash between the two parties then broke out. Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to try and disperse the students, who had begun running in different directions. Some sought refuge in a private residence near the university’s north campus, but continued to throw rocks at the police, who again responded with teargas and stun grenades…The large group had broken up into smaller groups which engaged isolated yet continuous battles with the police. On Monday, four leaders of the NMMU’s #FeesMustFall movement were arrested on the main campus. According to students, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, the four were part of a #FeesMustFall strategy meeting in the Embizweni building on south campus on Monday afternoon”…Cape Town: protesting students show how shit education is as Stalinists attack anarchy of movement – surprise surprise “protesters broke windows and doors and threw human excrement around buildings at the University of Cape Town in a bid to prevent it reopening in the wake of previous demonstrations.” More here “The University of Cape Town re-opened Monday after closing because of security concerns, but police were on campus and used a stun grenade to disperse protesters outside a university building. The university says another building was evacuated because of vandalism by protesters who tossed sewage in the corridors. Separately in Johannesburg, students blocked a road during the morning rush hour and threw stones before returning to their residential building at the University of the Witwatersrand.”
South Africa, Durban: more heavy clashes between students and cops…Johannesburg: more clashes at Wits uni “The students have intensified their protest action following the arrests of several students over the weekend including #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini. The situation remains tense at the Knockando Hall residence as protesting students attack police. The students are using plastic bin lids as shields as they throw rocks at officers from the Lighton hall. Most of the students also have their faces covered, so they cannot be identified. Some students are chanting “free Mcebo” and “we demand free decolonised education”….Several roads in the area have been blockaded by police as students earlier stoned passing cars. ” A “free decolonised education” is something you give yourself, not something to be demanded, which clearly many students and others are already getting in the streets and elsewhere. “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde.
South Africa, Pretoria: further clashes between students and the state More here…Vaal University of Technology, near Johannesburg: 2 buildings set alight More here “A maintenance room at the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) residences was on Wednesday night set alight, allegedly by protesting students… On Monday and Tuesday, staff members were barred from entering the main campus. A few months ago, a block of offices at the residences was also torched by protesting students….protesting students from the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in the Vaal are currently clashing with the police. Several tyres have been set alight while rocks can be seen all over inside the premises of the residences. The students have been hurling stones at the two police nyalas (armoured vehicles which are stationed inside the premises. Earlier in the day protesting students barred staff members from entering the main campus. It was the second day in succession staff members were prevented from entering the university. Students here are also demanding free education and the total scrapping of the historical debt. ”
South Africa, KwaZulu Natal: lecture theater and TV room set alight in anti-fees movement…Cape: several campuses in confrontation with the state…slightly hyperbolic report on student movement, with video “What began three weeks ago as a revolt against planned tuition fee hikes has morphed into a wider yell of rage against the manifest inequalities that stubbornly persist two decades into the post apartheid era. Amid the tear-gas, the whiff of revolution is in the air. That and the evaporating authority of the ANC government. Its leaders have been largely silent, leaving universities unable to deliver what the students demand, to fend for themselves. Those who are protesting are a small minority – but they are determined, increasingly violent, and they’ve manage to close many a campus. If they succeed with their stated aim; a total shutdown, then the cost to South Africa’s already enfeebled economy will be counted in the billions of rands.”
South Africa, Johannesburg: Wits university lectures stop because of students’ disruption …Video here “Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons…As police helicopters circled, some protesters spilled into city streets. A bus was set on fire, and thick smoke billowed into the air. The university, also known as Wits, accused students of throwing rocks “that could have maimed or killed people” and said protesters had responded to negotiation offers from the campus administration with threats. Students disrupted classes and threw rocks on several other campuses nationwide”…More here “Wits security guards in riot gear stood on the top of the stairs preventing the students from moving forward. The students called to be allowed into Solomon Mahlangu House, and gave security to the count of 10 to move, but campus security refused to move and the square exploded as rocks were flung from the crowd of students. Two police nyalas attempted to rush the square but were prevented by human barricade of students. The police then fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, forcing students to flee and duck for cover. They resurged, however, when they saw the human barricade holding against the nyala. The police were only able to break the human barricade after a number of stun-grades were fired into the mass of people holding the nyala back. Once the barricade was broken police moved a water cannon into the square. Police slowly pushed students towards Jan Smuts, while students barricaded the road leading to Nelson Mandela Bridge with stones and broken dustbins. At the same time a number of skirmishes were taking place between the remaining student protesters and police.”…university bus burnt out …shops also looted.
Private security guards Wits
“I accept the definition of those who call police the set of means that serve the splendour of the entire state and the happiness of all its citizens.”(Hohentahl, “Libia de politia”, 1776).
“The University has always been, in some form or another, an institution for producing the ideological justifications, and consequently their material realisation, for the forces of the state, its image of splendour and the “happiness” of the ruling society. It has been as fundamental an aspect of class society as has been the dominant media: a society in which the ruling class speaks to, and tries to convince, itself and society generally in order to ever-perfect its forms of social control. Whilst academia’s differing illusions of “objectivity” and “neutral” acquisition of knowledge have changed and developed, along with its intake, over the centuries, its fundamental prop for this miserable world has always remained.”- cop-out – the significance of Aufhebengate
…Western Cape: clashes at Stellenbosch University as students are joined by janitorial and kitchen staff ” “We don’t have money to send our children to the universities,” said a worker who spoke anonymously for fear of losing her job. The entire maintenance staff had been asked to leave Stellenbosch this morning at 07:30, she said. About half the workers joined the student protest. The worker said she also marched because “cleaners should be insourced”.
South Africa, Johannesburg: further clashes between students and the state; cop vehicle overturned…5 universities across the country closed for the rest of the week after heavy clashes between students and insecurity forces
South Africa, University of Johannesburg: lecture hall on fire as protests continue…1 dead, R600 million in damage and 118 arrested in current wave of student agitation “‘No arrests have been made in connection with some of the major property damage but the police have launched a culpable homicide investigation into the death of cleaner Celumusa Ntuli. Ntuli had been cleaning the Jubilee Hall residence at Wits when protesters discharged fire extinguishers on Tuesday last week. He became ill and was hospitalised for three days. At the weekend Ntuli‘s condition deteriorated and he was to be readmitted to hospital but died before arriving. The cause of death has not been established…The University of Fort Hare, after almost two weeks of protest, closed its campuses because of an attempt by “a certain group of students to destabilise the academic programme”. All the CCTV cameras on the university‘s Alice campus have been destroyed. A maintenance building was set alight on Thursday, resulting in millions of rands‘ of damage. No arrests have been reported. At the University of Pretoria two cars were petrol-bombed in student protests yesterday. There have been no arrests.”
South Africa, Limpopo: lectures suspended due to student protests at University’s Mankweng campus…four universities shut down by students “Students at the University of Limpopo have been protesting since Tuesday night…Students on the ground have confirmed that Tshwane University of Technology in Polokwane, Seshego FET college and University of Venda have joined the protest and also shutdown in solidarity with the University of Limpopo.”…Eastern Cape: clashes at Rhodes University More here
South Africa, Durban (KwaZulu Natal): campus closed for 2 days after students sling stones at cops and journalists during fees protests…students vs pigs in city centre…riots hit new high as students shoot shit at Commerce building…and fire guts turnstile & communal room...
Johannesburg: bank worker steals R3 million, claims ‘spiritual healer’ made him do it… fees protests disrupt soccer, opera and blood donations ‘Protest action at the University of Cape Town (UCT) led to the forced postponement of the opening of The Magic Flute‚ hosted by the Cape Town Opera (CTO)‚ which was scheduled to open on Tuesday evening. According to a statement released by the CTO‚ managing director Michael Williams said the postponement was “an unprecedented situation for CTO which‚ in 17 years of staging operas locally and internationally‚ has never had to postpone a production”…In addition‚ the Premier Soccer League (PSL) was forced to cancel the scheduled game between Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates on Saturday after threats erupted that Wits University students were planning to disrupt the match.’… Pretoria: shantytown residents barricade tunnel and roads
South Africa, Pretoria: 2 staff cars and computer lab burnt out during protest by students against fee increases… KwaZulu Natal: another arson attack on campus “This morning at about 07:15am a building was set alight at the UKZN Campus in PMB by a group of about five people. Last week the campus was the scene of running battles between the police and students amid protests demanding the elimination of fees. A fire was started at the Malherbe Residence. Cars were stoned, one student was injured and police had to use rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.”
South Africa: students clash with cops at University KwaZulu Natal whilst building housing security guards is torched at Eastern Cape campus “The unrest erupted at a Johannesburg university three days ago after the government announced a rise of up to 8 percent in 2017 tuition fees – well above the inflation rate. Demonstrations over the cost of university education, prohibitive for many black students, have highlighted frustration at enduring inequalities in Africa’s most industrialised country more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule. Television footage showed students hurling stones at police at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the east of the country. Police retaliated with tear gas to disperse the protesters as the two sides engaged in running battles across campus. “The students attempted to set a building on fire and were pelting motorists and police with rocks,” said Thulani Zwane, police spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal province. Earlier this month, 32 students were arrested after a law library at the university was torched during protests. Police said they were investigating arson at the University of Fort Hare in neighbouring Eastern Cape province after a building housing university security guards was torched. “Three rooms in the building were burnt down,” Marinda Mills, police spokeswoman for the province said. Violent protests last year forced President Jacob Zuma to freeze tuition fees for 2016, but universities said that to do so again in 2017 would diminish academic programme standards.”…new high for Commerce block, as fire guts turnstile & communal room
Johannesburg, Wits: Students promise to make university ungovernable until demand for free education is met More here “Protesters threw stones at security guards outside a main campus building, smashing some windows. Some guards threw projectiles back at the students. Classes were also suspended Wednesday at the University of Cape Town because of security concerns.”…confrontation with police at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University “…students blocked the road….they danced at the traffic circle in the middle of the road, banged empty water bottles together, and sang struggle songs. Public order police in riot gear, and armed with shields and batons, pushed the students back onto the campus. Students pushed back and a group at the back began hurling water bottles at police. Hundreds of students scattered as police deployed stun grenades. They soon returned and began to congregate in front of the campus entrance.”
South Africa: comprehensive summary of the day’s events at disrupted universities across the country
See here for more detailed context and student voices. …Langa: protesters about service delivery and housing block roads with burning barricades More here “The protesting started last night with the Post Office that they attempted to set alight and they tried to break in at Shoprite You Save. And they attempted to set a railway alight.”
… Limpopo: primary school barricaded by angry parents protesting against governing body ‘The group made up mostly of women were singing while carrying sign boards that said “SGB Must Fall”. Some were threatening to burn down the school which is situated on the same street where a satellite police station was torched over a week ago during protests.’
The school for the oppressed is in the streets
South Africa, Limpopo: 3 school classrooms and staff room torched “The burning incident was the second one at Humula high school, where buildings were also torched in June last year. Community leader, Chief Mkhacani Mukhomi, says they believe the perpetrators wanted to sabotage the performance of learners, as their records for the year have all been lost in the fire.”… miners demonstration demand unpaid salaries
South Africa: miners, possibly inspired by their counterparts in Bolivia, arrested for possession of dynamite Conditions in South Africa, where miners are one of the most minutely monitored & controlled workforces in the world, as opposed to Bolivia, where the miners are in a way self-employed (or, to put it another way, outsourced as independent contractors), seem to militate against the strategic use of dynamite in this country.
It’s also not certain what the intention was in this instance. Possibly the dynamite was being smuggled in order to be sold on the black market, though I have no idea what demand, if any, there might be for the stuff. Presumably, however, since reports of explosives have never come up during miners struggles before, there are not many who have taken a mind to appropriate this colorful substance for their own uses, as it’s difficult to believe that some could not have been smuggled out, if only during moments of unrest when the mechanisms of surveillance and control were compromised — where there’s a will there’s a way… [SK]…… Eastern Cape: moratorium placed on $200 million after massive resistance by indigenous communities A key strategy of the struggle was the pre-emptive sabotage of all attempts to conduct the ‘environmental impact assessment’ that is used to greenwash all such developments. Denouncing in advance a procedure whose outcome was determined in advance, the villagers cut through the spectacle of ‘consultation’ and eco-friendly bullshit with which the bourgeoisie imposes a rubber-stamped legitimacy on its ruthless rapacity (in the face of community opposition Mark Caruso, boss of the Australian firm attempting to open the mine, quoted the Old Testament ‘And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee’; following the murder of one of the opponents to the mine, his brother Patrick Caruso candidly admitted:“Well, there is always blood where there are these types of projects … in my experience you cannot have development without blood” — a rare moment of straight talking in these universally mealy-mouthed times).
‘Three weeks ago Environmental Impact Assessment consultants sent by Caruso faced a difficult challenge to consult with residents of the six rural village neighbourhoods community (Luphithini, Mnyameni, Mtolani, Mdatya Mpindweni and Nyavini) about the latest mining rights application that he had lodged (see the report). The meeting did not last long and the team, led by EIA consultant Pieter Badenhorst, was told not to come back.
Last Wednesday, on 29 April 2015, confident that since they had the authority of the Amadiba chief Lunga Baleni to back them up, Badenhorst returned with a larger team, who travelled in a convoy led by Caruso’s local agent and community ‘fixer’, Zamile Qunya to gather data for the EIA, their difficulty increased. Soon after the convoy had entered the Amadiba Tribal area, word travelled faster than their convoy and by the time they had reached turnoff to Xolobeni, the consultants were confronted by a barricade of logs and brushwood on the road, manned by an ever-growing group of angry residents.
Believing that opposition to the mining proposal had been orchestrated by outsiders and was confined to a small minority of “just one village”, one of the team began to realise that Qunya had greatly exaggerated his influence and that although Chief Lunga Baleni might have had formal powers, he had forsaken his authority and respect.’ (here) More context and history to this long-standing conflict can be found here andhere…Gauteng: strike at R164-million Sarah Baartman Centre “Building of the R164-million Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance in Hankey was halted yesterday when about 200 Lubbe Construction workers blocked the town’s Main Street. The strikers, who all live in the town, want the same pay as those brought in from Johannesburg and Rustenburg. They claim they earn only R3 000 a month while those from the north are paid R9 000. The Department of Arts and Culture started the R164-million project two years ago and planned to have it completed this month.The centre is being built next to the grave of celebrated Khoikhoi beauty Baartman, who visited Europe in the early 19th century and was put on display as a freak.” Good example of how arts and culture, nationalist anti-imperialism, and capitalism currently go together [SK]
South Africa, Cape Town: fifth protest at fifth school in as many days as pupils rebel against drug-tests See here for report on the four others.
South Africa, KwaZulu Natal: heavy clashes with cops at university over fees increases “The senate building and six vehicles outside the Westville campus were set alight at about midnight. University spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said students were arrested following the burning. “The damages run into a couple of millions of rand.” Student protests also turned violent at the Howard college campus and Pietermaritzburg campus with the stoning of property and barricading of roads. The torching and unrest comes exactly a year after protest action and fires at the campus in September last year‚ which caused an estimated R80m in damages.”…Here for more background info
Westville campus, KwaZulu Natal
South Africa, Western Cape: classroom torched during protest against fines for being late “…children protested against a R5 penalty for arriving late. The group set a classroom and rubbish bins alight, hurled stones at the building, and broke the windows of a classroom where Grade 12s were writing their exams. Cars parked on the premises, including that of the principal, were damaged and learners allegedly threw stones at the police when they arrived.” More here. “The pupils say they have also been fined R500 for urinating or defecating at the school when the toilets were locked…Governing body secretary and teacher Vusi Mahobe confirmed pupils were fined at the school as a rule. He said the rule for late-coming was instituted this year, but there was no proper consultation process. Pupils targeted Mahobe’s car as well as the school principal’s yesterday, damaging the vehicles. Mahobe said parents had recently questioned the rule but their queries fell on deaf ears….The school’s Learner Representative Council (LRC) wants this practice scrapped or they will continue protesting indefinitely, disrupting classes and damaging property in the process.”
South Africa, Eastern Cape: another school razed to the ground as pupils demand farewell party ‘Six classrooms were set alight by angry pupils of Nogemane Senior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape. Protesting pupils have completely destroyed a Ngqeleni school after demanding a matric farewell. Six classrooms were set alight by angry pupils of Nogemane Senior Secondary School in Ntibane village on Tuesday night. The principal’s office‚ administration block‚ library and laboratory were also reduced to ash. School governing body chairman Jongimvula Hohlo said they were shocked at the conduct of the pupils. “Pupils were supposed to start with trial examinations today‚ but by the look of things that will be impossible.” The protest at the school started on August 19 when Grade 12 pupils demanded a farewell. Hohlo said there was a meeting with parents and pupils on Tuesday‚ at which it was agreed that the farewell would take place on October 19. “We thought we understood each other. We are very shocked that the school has been burnt down‚” he said.’
Not knowing anything about this other than the mainstream report, it does seem like the official demand in this protest, which appears to have been already won ten days ago, was just an excuse to burn down the school for some unspoken reason. Possibly the arsonists wanted to prevent exams taking place. Possibly they simply wanted to attack the machinery of bourgeois brainwashing, misery and humiliation. As with the majority of such cases, no statements of responsibility accompanied by eloquent communiques have been released — nor do any such things seem particularly necessary. [SK]
All Must Fall!
… KwaZulu-Natal: labour-commodity production facility razed to the ground.Check out the curious heading for the photo of this education factory on fire... Eastern Cape: yet another school building reduced to ashes “CHB High principal Zalisile Joyi estimated it would cost about R1-million to repair a burnt classroom which contained groceries for the nutrition and feeding scheme, as well as cutlery, stoves, documents and other items. He said attempts had also been made to burn down his office but community members had reacted quickly and doused the flames. Joyi and SGB chairman Mandla Jali said two weeks ago angry pupils had run amok, breaking windows and damaging other parts of the building. Residents suspect some pupils were responsible for the fire as it started shortly after they staged a protest. The pupils were demanding that parents no longer be forced to pay R250 towards salaries of SGB-employed teachers and that they get to participate in all sporting activities in the district and at other levels. “These issues were resolved on Tuesday in a meeting between teachers, parents and pupil representatives, and the protest was called off,” Jali said. “So it came as a surprise when the school was found burnt a night later.” Again, judging only from this official report, there seems to be motivations other than the officially declared demands, which were here apparently also ‘resolved’. But it might well be the case that the pupil-representatives (chosen how and by whom we don’t know) and the agreements they made at the negotiations were simply rejected by some of their comrades. [SK]
There is currently also much agitation at certain elite all-girls schools in Pretoria and Cape Town about racist policies; we mention this here but haven’t included them as they are getting plenty of coverage already, and although obviously important to those involved, are pretty far removed from the struggles of most young proletarians in this country.
South Africa: Telkom forced to double reward offer for sabotage during strike from 500,000 rand to a million (approximately 68,000$) “Earlier this month, Telkom offered a reward of R500,000 to anyone who could lead them to the culprits. With no luck thus far, the telecommunications service provider has doubled the reward to R1-million.”
South Africa, Eastern Cape: parts of school burnt down as pupils protest teacher shortage “…one house was burnt and two others vandalised. A school hall was also burnt down. The houses that were burnt and vandalised are where renting pupils stay…One of the pupils staying at the house‚ Nwabisa Zayedwa‚ said they were not inside when the house caught fire. “We heard that the house was going to be burnt and we went to sleep in the forest‚” she said. “We have lost everything‚ books‚ IDs and clothes. Everything that was in our room has been destroyed by fire.” On Monday‚ angry pupils burnt down a school hall. Learning and teaching has come to a complete standstill at the school as the protesting pupils demand the education department provide them with teachers.”… Gauteng: young workers protest cancellation of public works contracts
South Africa, Cape Town: locals facing eviction occupy popular market “No one is getting evicted. We are family. Here the owners are evicting us illegally. They want us to leave so they can do gentrification. We are people with children. Where must we go? You want to throw us in Blikkiesdorp? No.” Blikkiesdorp is a settlement near the airport where many evicted Capetonians have been moved in recent years.” Note, this particular eviction, should it succeed, would not be illegal. The argument seems to be that legally alternative accommodation must be provided, which in Cape Town means Blikkiesdorp. Understandably most people don’t view this as an adequate alternative, but the courts do, and it would be misguided to rely on a legal argument to stop such evictions. Far more effective would be if the same amount of people who carried out this action stand between the locals and the sheriff when he comes to cart people away… [SK]
South Africa, Eastern Cape: highschool kid murdered by pigs in protest “Two pupils were shot with live ammunition after a group of school children from Lubaleko Senior Secondary School in Mount Ayliff allegedly left their classes to support a community protest. One of the children died from a shot to the chest while another was transported to Mount Ayliff Hospital in a critical condition. It is alleged that disgruntled community members set fire to the headman’s house while police were on the scene at about 9am this morning. Police reports say officers on the scene tried to stop the community members but were pelted with stones resulting in police vehicles being damaged.”According to this report pigs claim they killed the kid because they ran out of rubber bullets… Gauteng: sevreal municipal offices and 5 cars torched in anti-eviction action
Pi question: how come there are still municipal offices in SA to burn ?
SK answer: because 1) some people prefer to burn schools, traffic copshops, etc, and 2) state bureaucrats need places to rot in so they can pretend to justify their salaries
South Africa, KwaMashu: nurses wildcat strike… Eastern Cape: students disrupt four universities demanding free miseducation… Pretoria: roads barricaded in anti-eviction action after more than 2000 vacant houses occupied
South Africa, Durban: national highway barricaded by crowd of hundreds three times over the course of several hours…Limpopo: shops looted and roads barricaded as residents ‘go on the rampage’ against police
South Africa, Mtata: cops shoot at students in second day of protests “Police had to use rubber bullets after they [protesters] went around forcing children out of schools in the vicinity and blocking the road”… union condemns masssive sabotage of Telkom (national telecommunications network) during strike “On Thursday, Telkom put up a R500 000 reward for information regarding the sabotage of numerous facilities around the country. The reward comes amid a strike by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which allegedly turned violent this week. But CWU President, Clyde Mervin, told Fin24 by phone that the union was not aware of the sabotage of any facilities….” More here “CWU President, Clyde Mervin, told Fin24 …”While we are striking, members are following the law. We went on strike legally. If it is found that any members of the union have been involved in the incidents we will deal with them,” and here “About 13 200 Telkom customers and businesses have been affected by acts of sabotage against the company’s facilities. Eighty-five street distribution cabinets have been damaged in the past five days, mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, but also in Gauteng towards the end of the week….Jacqui O’Sullivan, Telkom’s managing executive of communication, condemned the incidents as examples of “ongoing acts of intimidation by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) with the spike in sabotage related to the past three weeks of industrial action”. “These are not random acts of vandalism or incidents of cable theft. These people know where to go and what to do to wreak maximum damage…When caught, the perpetrators would face the full might of the law. She cited a case in Boksburg, in February, when a copper thief, Paul Mathonsi, also known as Sambol Sambane Nyalunga, was sentenced to 106 years in jail in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act. This act allows for harsher sentencing and bail conditions for people who are found to have purposefully damaged infrastructure. Copper cable theft and the damage to infrastructure is costing Telkom, along with many other companies, millions of rand each year in repairs, lost working hours and lost customers….The 106-year concurrent sentence was handed down as an effective 25 years. While the sabotage continued, she said, the protesters were also committing violent acts against non-striking members with a CWU protester throwing a brick at the car window of one of the non-striking employees as the employee was leaving a Telkom facility in Randburg. The protester was arrested. On Thursday, in the Western Cape, a number of non-striking technicians were sent threatening texts in an attempt to get them to join the strike. On Friday, Telkom took out a contempt of court order against eight of the 870 striking union members for defying last Monday’s urgent interdict by the Labour Court prohibiting the CWU and its members from blockading Telkom entrances and exits, intimidating working employees and damaging any Telkom facilities and equipment.”
… KwaZulu Natal: pupils torch cottage after sex video involving teacher and pupil goes viral In response to a couple of objections to the inclusion of this, based on the recognition that the moralistic objection to consensual sex after the onset of puberty between “underage” teenagers and adults is usually reactionary and often fascistic (see this, for instance), SK wrote the following:
Given the hierarchical power relations between teachers and pupils in high schools (particularly pronounced in SA where the authoritarian atmosphere is pronounced — hence the recent protests against disciplinary codes that control the minutest details down to hairstyle, fines for late-coming, routine corporal punishment — all of which are worse in rural areas) the possibility of a free relationship in this case is close to zero. Also, given the ubiquity of transactional relationships between males and females in this country, even if it was technically consensual there is a good chance sex was exchanged for favours (good marks in tests, etc) which teachers are able to offer due to their dominant position over pupils within the institution.
South Africa, Inanda (KwaZulu-Natal): 19 arrested, roads barricaded, bus burned, cop shot “In a separate protest in Keats Drift, near Msinga, about 150 protesters barricaded a road with burning tyres and rocks” More here: “protests raged across parts of Inanda‚ KwaMashu and Ntuzuna in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday. Dozens of people were reportedly injured when they clashed with police in protests against newly elected councillors… Schools were closed and a number of residents weren’t able to go to work on Monday… By 10.45am‚ police resources were stretched‚ fighting sporadic protests in Maoti‚ where burning skip bins had been overturned. Roads were littered with rocks‚ smouldering tyres and ash. Ward 57 resident Nkosinathi Magwaza said the issue was with the African National Congress‚ which had fielded a councillor candidate the community did not want. “We can’t be led by a person we don’t know. All we hear is that he grills chicken at Nando’s‚” said Sphiwe Mdlolo‚ a protester at Ward 57‚ Maoti.”
South Africa, Tshwane: municipal buildings wrecked and municipal vehicles torched in service delivery protest “…an evening of unrest and mayhem which resulted in the destruction of a municipal building, torching and damaging of municipal vehicles… residents had illegally occupied the vacant land parcels in Refilwe extension 5 and the land invasion unit of the Tshwane Metro Police Depart-ment (TMPD) subsequently issued notices to the illegal occupiers to vacate the land. When the request to vacate the land was not heeded, the TMPD enlisted the services of a private company to demolish 397 illegal structures on the invaded land on Thursday. “Incensed by the action, the illegal occupiers took to the streets yesterday and forcefully broke into a municipal housing building, causing damage to the structure … The angry protesters also torched six municipal vehicles and damaged four others, including a TMPD bus.” Of course, as responsible citizens the editors of this site do not condone such heinous action. If people are to break into municipal housing buildings, clearly they should only do so unforcefully.
South Africa is a world leader of murder, assault and rape, but we suffer this as a result of the pervasive demoralisation consequent upon the breakdown and disorganisation of formerly established social relations — notably the demise of communal struggle in which the frustration and anger generated by a miserable life was channeled towards revolt, and the decimation of the traditional patriarchal role of the male-worker which for my generation scarcely exists anymore.
This obviously only touches the surface of things, and mainly deals with rape as a function of the general violence inflicted on ourselves and each other. There’s obviously much more to it than that. This deals with some of the things, but for me seems very inadequate: http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-09-25-review-rape-a-south-african-nightmare
One idea occurred to me as I was reading an incredible report about illegal abortions and child abandonment (http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-11-24-gone-without-a-trace-the-shocking-fate-of-south-africas-abandoned-children/). South Africans all know this goes on very frequently as a result of the dodgy adverts that adorn every surface on trains and public spaces but I was still caught off guard to learn that at the moment there are an estimated 150 000 of these happening in this country every year! Apparently many babies survive these abortions because they are often last-minute affairs, leading to the stories of newborns found in bins and so on.
And all of this *should* be completely unnecessary. At the most basic level, there should be no reason for anyone to have unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Contraception is both legal and free. As you know the reasons why this continues to happen at such an immense scale in this country has to do with the powerlessness of females — specifically poor black females — over the basic conditions of their own existence, starting first of all with their own bodies. When the sex itself is not coerced, then the way they have sex is — leading also to the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.
At the next level, there should be no reason for those with unwanted pregnancies to need illegal abortions. This is also legal and free. From what I hear, however, the reactionary attitude of nurses at state clinics, who routinely condemn the sluttishnes of their patients, deters many from using their services.
Lastly, even when unwanted pregnancies result in babies, there should be no reason for them to get abandoned or murdered. But for thousands of people, giving children up for adoption is not an option. Again the reactionary nature of medical staff at state institutions has much to do with it. I heard of someone who went to an adoption agency and was told by a staff member there that her ancestors would be angry if she gave up the baby!
The following also seems symptomatic. Teachers are not the only older men girls are having sex with. I remember reading an article where teenage boys in the townships complained that they can’t get girlfriends because they had to compete with men with money. And where there are such mercenary relationships and power differentials there is bound to be all sorts of coercion and expectations for adequate ‘payment’ in exchange for favours, a sense of entitlement and possible violence when this is rejected or disappointed.
SEX PUPILS ATTACK HEAD
Jan 31, 2011
PUPILS at Mavalani Secondary School outside Giyani, Limpopo, went on the rampage, destroying property after accusing the principal of reporting that 57 of their schoolmates were pregnant.
Eighteen pupils were subsequently arrested.
On Friday pupils accused principal Meserea Mahungu of conniving with the media to expose teenage pregnancies at the school.
This was after Sowetan published damning articles about the school’s high pregnancy rate, with the youngest expectant mother being only 13 years old.
It was also reported that parents of pregnant pupils were camping outside the school in case any pregnant pupil went into unexpected labour.
Angered by the negative publicity the pupils turned violent and threatened to kill Mahungu.
Mahungu had to be rescued by a heavily armed police contingent that went to the school to contain the volatile situation.
A pupil said they were angry about the principal inviting the media without consulting them and their parents.
“We had a standing agreement with the principal that issues affecting the school should first be discussed with the parents before being taken out for public consumption,” Maluleke said.
He said they wanted Mahungu to apologise but parents were divided about the matter.
Mijhanji Makhubele said pupils were incited by teachers who had grudges against Mahungu and those who were responsible for impregnating pupils.
School governing body chairperson Hlengani Mikhasi said pupils were influenced by people with their own agendas.
The sentiments were also echoed by Limpopo provincial department of education spokesperson Pat Kgomo.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ronel Otto confirmed that 18 pupils had been arrested.
She said they would appear in the Giyani magistrate’s court today on a charge of public violence.
All of which certainly doesn’t amount to a coherent outline of the root-causes of the problem. But I’m not sure this is really possible — it definitely isn’t for me anyway!”
SF responds: “Don’t think it’s possible to be precise about causes of rape etc. though you do give some reasons for it, though how the “decimation of the traditional patriarchal role of the male-worker which for my generation scarcely exists anymore.” would effect the amount of rapes is not clear to me – is this causing anger towards women because it’s easier to express frustration by picking on those lower in the hierarchy, a sense of impotence that wants to deny this sense by expressing itself in the form of rape? Though rape has little to do with sex, more simply to do with a power game, albeit expressed in a miserable brutalisation of sex; which is one reason why chemical castration would not work even if we were in favour of it – the brutal violence against women would be expressed in some way other than rape.”
To the above question, “…is this causing anger towards women because it’s easier to express frustration by picking on those lower in the hierarchy, a sense of impotence that wants to deny this sense by expressing itself in the form of rape? “, SK replies:
More or less yes — masculinity traditionally being bound up with the bread-winner role. With half the young men in the country permanently emasculated in this sense via chronic unemployment, new forms of masculinity find expression through gangs & delinquency, with their consequent violence based on informal forms of employment and a stereotyped hypermasculinity usually directed against other young men. When men
1) live in an atmosphere where plundering the pockets of other proletarians & breaking their homes is a pervasive everyday occurrence, together with
2) a traditional patriarchal perspective that sees women as desirable objects, like sports cars, made for the gratification of men, and
3) lack reliable means of obtaining said objects via one or another form of legal or illegal work (whether as head of a working-class family or as a ‘blesser’*)
it would be surprising if many did not pillage female bodies the same way they pillage the goods of their neighbours.
Although gangs obviously employ both stereotyped tough-guy roles as well as violence, most violence seems, like most rape, to be an interpersonal rather than professional (gang) phenomenon; it is a result of disorder rather than organised crime. It is ordinary guys who adopt these roles and kill each other. Of all the many violent deaths I have heard of in the townships, every single one was the result of petty personal arguments — bar-room brawls gone out of control, so to speak.
In other countries with comparable levels of violence, such as South American states, murders are the result of a highly developed illicit order running in parallel — completing and mutually reinforcing — the official order. Such is the case with the Mexican cartels and the Chavista paramilitaries. They thus offer a fairly reliable role for the distribution of power and resources (including females) to those who serve them. In South Africa violence seems to be mostly a result of disorder. Organised crime in South Africa does not offer a reliable role for men to fulfill their patriarchal role. Apparently, all it does is further intensify the chaos — adding a layer of substance abuse and desperation to an already miserable mix.
Of course, all of this is entirely anecdotal speculation. I don’t know the statistics for gang-related murders vs. crimes of passion (if such distinctions are even made by police statisticians). I don’t know how many women of different sociological categories are reportedly raped — their respective age, class, geographic distribution — nor do I know the sociological details of their alleged rapists. Everything I’ve written is based on impressions gained from living here for 26 years and a bit of incidental reading, much of it forgotten. So it is only fair to warn that I might be sucking theories & generalisations out of my thumb. Obviously, any serious attempt to address the issue would have to marshal the available empirical evidence, and if necessary generate new evidence where it is not yet available. But this is beyond my capacity at the moment, so I will have to leave it at that, however inadequate these random fragments may be.
South Africa, Limpopo: how to start a riot by answering your cellphone at the ballot box “A bizarre chain of events unfolded swiftly after a man answered his phone inside a voting booth at Xigalo Primary School in Malamulele‚ Limpopo‚ on Wednesday. Casting his vote escalated into a brawl‚ the firing of gunshots‚ theft of a weapon‚ a police chase‚ and a bystander being injured in a car crash.”
South Africa, Kliptown: protesters and police do battle “About 100 demonstrators took to the streets and children were prevented from going to school. Some protesters tried to loot shops and burn down a construction depot.”… train line occupied and service suspended
South Africa, Meyerton: journalist attacked, robbed, camera smashed in week-long protest “Residents have been demonstrating since the beginning of the week, demanding housing and electricity… Residents protest over housing singing ” DA local government will be overturned”…Several cars have been attacked and stoned by protesters including 3 police vehicles.”
According to video below, the clashes began when residents joined a municipal worker’s strike that ‘escalated dramatically’:
— Manqoba Mchunu (@ManqobaMchunu) 22 de julio de 2016
South Africa, Johannesburg: city brought to standstill by housing protest “Zamimpilo residents in the south of Johannesburg near Riverlea have blocked roads, burnt tyres and allegedly torched an MEC’s residence as they protest for housing.”… this report details some of the latest tools of repression, “Just hours after the gear was unveiled, the Joburg metro police department (JMPD) failed to put its new riot and command centre vehicles to use in a violent protest in Riverlea on Wednesday because of “technical hitches”.On Tuesday, the JMPD rolled out a R27 million fleet of four mobile command units and two riot vehicles… city mayor Parks Tau said that with these new vehicles, the instigators of violence would be caught on video because they carried internal and external, high-definition, 400m-range cameras. The units also have a mini boardroom, a mobile clinic for conducting breathalyser and blood tests, bar fridges for cold drinks and water for officers during the hot summer months. They also have thermal imaging cameras, a public address system and a “front dozer” mechanism for clearing rubble, such as rocks and burning tyres, off the roads. The units, which are buses which have been kitted out, are also fitted with flood lights and back-up generators.”
South Africa, Braamfontein: post office workers strike in solidarity with those fired on the 6th of this month for wildcat strike… Cape Town: cops use stun grenades to break up illegal anti-Uber demo blocking traffic…KwaZulu-Natal: security guards kill two during hospital worker protest
South Africa, Nelson Mandela University: students shut down campus in protests against financial exclusion… Johannesburg: thousands stranded in wildcat bus-driver strike “Joburg Metrobuses ferry about 90 000 commuters every weekday on 229 routes. Meanwhile, thousands more commuters in the province could be out in the cold and scrambling to find a way to get to their various locations this week if Gautrain employees also go on strike.”
Zimbabwe-South Africa border: border barricaded, shops shut down, customs warehouse torched in riots “Tensions at Beit Bridge border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa reached boiling point over a Zimbabwean ban on importing basic South African goods. Zimbabwe immediately sent in its army to the volatile border town…Residents of Beit Bridge burnt a Zimbabwe Revenue Association warehouse of confiscated goods at the border on Friday, and vehicles and people were prevented from crossing into South Africa with rocks and burning tyres. The plan on the South African side was to blockade the border and turn back all trucks and other vehicles carrying goods from Zimbabwe. Shops in the northern-most South African town of Musina were forced to close due to threats to destroy them if they conducted business as usual, and there were even calls to set fire to a Zimbabwean citizen in protest against the measures and to force Zimbabwe to reverse its ban. The Beit Bridge Taxi Association, the Musina Meter Taxi Association and residents in Musina had extended an invitation to the Beit Bridge Cross-Border Transporters’ Association and Beit Bridge residents who were being refused the right to protest to join them on the South African side. The crisis sparked a massive protest at the border post on Friday, with thousands of South Africans and Zimbabweans joining forces to blockade the border in protest against Zimbabwe’s enforcement of regulations…” According to this, “The mob also stoned a house belonging to a member of the police neighbourhood watch committee whom they accused of unleashing a reign of terror at the border post.”
“The security ministers and top military commanders are really worried that the manner in which Beitbridge residents executed their protest could inspire others to do the same given the economic situation in the country… Also, the fear is that Friday’s protests came just a week after similar revolts were witnessed in the same town. So, really, it is something commanders are worried about.”
South Africa, Johannesburg: shopping mall looted and ambulance torched during protest… cop killed and partner disarmed… water cut-offs said to have sparked the riots… Cape Town: two busses burnt on national highway near airport
South Africa, Pretoria: 2 dead, more than two dozen buses and trucks destroyed, dozens of shops looted, in 3rd day of riots similar to those that rocked Durban just weeks ago “The protests were sparked after the ANC’s announcement of its decision to deploy former minister Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate for Tshwane…Protesting communities were calling for the ANC to allow them to decide on their own mayoral candidate. In reaction to this, more than 20 buses and several trucks were torched in areas of Tshwane, including Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Mabopane. Morula shopping complex in Mabopane was looted overnight and smaller shops were ransacked throughout the day today. The same happened in Ga-Rankuwa. The shell of a torched bus was seen in front of Morula Sun Casino in Mabopane where it was set alight overnight. Police were deployed to Tshwane from across Gauteng. However, they were thin on the ground. Officers would run from one looting incident to the next only to find that looters had already cleaned out the shops.”
…cops car overturned, pigs run to save their bacon ‘Three Tshwane metro police officers had to run for their lives on Monday afternoon after a group of disgruntled African National Congress (ANC) members attacked their marked service vehicle in Pretoria. “They were busy on their normal patrols, unaware that they were driving towards the protesters. They were confronted by the protesters and stones were thrown at them,” Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) spokesperson Isaac Mahamba told African News Agency. “All the three were injured. They managed to run away from the protesters and call for backup. The protesters fled.”’
Acting director-general of Government Communication and Information Systems, Donald Liphoko said: “There can be no issue which cannot be resolved through democratic processes and dialogue. Members of the public are encouraged to use channels available to raise their concerns”. People in Pretoria beg to differ.
“There has been some admission, including from State Security Minister David Mahlobo, that the violence was instigated from within the ANC … Among the tactics used to send people on the rampage was a false message that those employed through the Extended Public Works Programme in areas around Tshwane would lose their jobs if Ramokgopa was no longer mayor. It is also claimed that taxi bosses exploited the outbreak of violence to deal with the dispute they have been having with Autopax bus services in Mamelodi. It is alleged that they were responsible for the torching of 19 Autopax buses on Monday night. The looting spree, particularly at spaza shops owned by foreign nationals, then followed in the general turmoil.” – from here
South Africa, Johannesburg: barricades, riots and looting erupt throughout the southern half of the city in response to blackouts… just after a reasearcher at the University of Johannesberg revealed that the country experienced an average of 13 protests a day, “mainly over wages, service delivery, crime, dismissals, unemployment and housing. Over the past 17 years, there have been at least 67 750 protests.” According to The Star, “Soweto residents caused mayhem on Tuesday night when they looted shops, stoned cars and destroyed ATMs in Dube in a protest over electricity outages. A Pep and a KFC at a local shopping centre was broken into and looted… A nearby bakery was also burgled and FNB ATMs smashed with stones.”… Protests erupted in numerous areas of Soweto, Diepkloof, Vlakfontein, Eldorado Park, Orange Farm, Sebokeng and Ennerdale… Residents of Soweto sabotage the machinery of misinformation ... apparently the previous day “protesters threw stones at police, burnt a Putco bus and set a delivery truck on fire”
South Africa, Durban: experimental prole creation vs. habitual state destruction “Minutes after the eThekwini Municipality’s Land Invasion Unit left the Kennedy Road informal settlement, angry shack dwellers ran on to Bisasar Road in Springfield and petrol bombed a passing municipal truck. Police said the land invasion unit had on Thursday evicted several people who had illegally built shacks.”
…Eastern Cape: province-wide taxi-strike causes temporary cancellation of exams and other disruptions… Kwa-Zulu Natal: operations at Isithebe Industrial Estate grind to a halt as disgruntled residents cut off water supply ‘The estate employs more than 20‚000 people and is “the main economic lifeblood of the Mandeni area”’ . This follows widespread rioting that saw the destruction of several factories in April.
South Africa, Durban: ‘clearly co-ordinated’ rioting, looting and barricades throughout city, seemingly over faction-fight within ruling party ‘Tyres have been burnt and roads closed in at least half a dozen areas of the city‚ including KwaMashu‚ Newlands East‚ North Coast Road‚ Sea Cow Lake‚ Queen Nandi Drive‚ Mountbatten Drive and Westville. The protest action started as early as 2am in some areas‚ police said. One officer‚ who spoke on condition of anonymity‚ said it was difficult to even keep track of where the protesters were because of how widespread the protest action was. “It’s clearly coordinated. All these (protests) happened at about the same time this morning. It’s not just a few people who are upset and causing trouble‚” the officer said. This situation meant that officers had to cover multiple areas simultaneously‚ making policing difficult.’ One man has been shot, (no indication by whom) and another, walking to work, was ‘moderately’ beaten by protesters. Meanwhile, more than 30 cars and trucks were destroyed, and the laundry service of a local hospital was trashed during looting
Some of the contradictions of these events were revealed in the statements of a few participants, as reported here: ‘“We just want to choose the best candidates to lead us; we don’t want people who are only in the race to enrich themselves and their friends,” unemployed Sea Cow Lake resident Sandile Magatyane (29) told The Daily Vox. “People have been killed in shack fires every year here and we cannot tolerate another selfish leader; we need proper houses,” he said. A resident of Springfield, Norman Guqa (35), who has been living in a shack for nine years says that his community has been forgotten. Guqa said that something has to change, “and now it will change by force because we never meet our councillor and the current list has names of people we don’t recognise,” he said. He added that until they get answers they will close down the area and won’t let any cars go in and out of Springfield. “Violence is the only language these politicians understand. You cannot reason with a politician, he will use big English words just to confuse you and come up with excuses but we are tired now,” said Guqa.’
Certainly this would not be the first time that faction-fighting was the motivation for protests. Like an ingrown toenail, the decomposition of the ruling party has seen the generalised violence perpetrated against proletarians increasingly turning inwards against this or that faction of the ANC. Political assassinations, routinely deployed since the turf-wars between UDF, AZAPO, ANC and IFP in the 1980s, and generalised in Kwa-Zulu Natal in the 1990s during the ‘strategy of tension’, have been a constant tool in the arsenal of the political class. In the first 9 days of this month alone, at least 4 ANC officials were gunned down by hit-men, presumably by rivals in their own party. It is by no means inconceivable that political riots could be increasingly resorted to, for the same purposes. Unlike assassinations or terrorism, however, such riots seem far more two-edged a weapon, as the danger of them getting out of hand and developing into an actual assault on bourgeois law and property always hovers in the background. Until now, the most radical class-consciousness in the country has expressed itself in through apolitical means: mass election abstention and independent mass organisations such as the Durban-based shack-dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo that even go so far as to criticise the legitimacy of the state as a form of representation for the poor. But, just as present riots begin with disgust for all politicians and end with support for the lesser evil of supposedly less disgusting politicians, so AbM began with election boycotts and ended up, in the previous elections, supporting the supposed lesser-evil of official opposition party.
Unfortunately, until the dissatisfaction expressed in these and similar situations around the country coalesces into a coherently anti-political, anti-hierarchical, anti-capitalist movement, such assaults will always be contained by the contradictory reliance on new, supposedly least-bad forms of representation. As a matter of fact, what seems to be the lesser-evil is often the worst evil of all in that it brings people to accept, under a new coat of paint, the very same no-good future that they violently reject in its old discredited form. The apparently lesser-evil is practically the worst evil precisely inasmuch as, by nipping any potential good life in the bud, it serves to preserve all evil at a time when increasingly radical struggles raise, in ever more concrete forms, the question of whether it is really necessary for people to continue damning themselves to suffer eternally under this stupid, miserable, immeasurably evil mode of existence at all. [SK]
In response to a request by SK for comments on the above, SF wrote the following:
As for your point about lesser or worse evil: the real point is that the movements we’re most interested in combat in practice things that the worse or better evil wouldn’t tolerate if they were in power. Yet when such movements resort to political demands for the better or worse evil to replace the current lot it both undermines ideologically what in practice is being done (ie something self-organised) by asking for something that is not self-organised, and is just a political reflex to come up with an apparently “realistic” demand that hierarchical power can understand and possibly meet, especially if it buys them time. However, in certain circumstances, demanding a reform is quite clearly and genuinely the better evil insofar as these miserable circumstances need to be resolved practically and usually pretty immediately (eg demanding electricity or water or a wage rise or whatever are obviously concrete demands which if met would ameliorate the situation). Everyone does this almost everyday if they have no other means of getting what they need (eg they can’t connect the electricity or get water themselves, or they can’t get non-nuclear-powered forms of electricity or they can’t abolish money for the moment, etc. etc.). I don’t think it helps though to say that demanding some political party in opposition is “the worse evil” – the “evils” are essentially the same, neither worse, nor better. Usually when people demand these false choices without even acting independently it’s indicative of how they are avoiding acting independently and how they want to continue avoiding acting independently. Which is not the case with, for example, Abahlali baseMjondolo; I’d guess – though without knowing enough about them – that after years of acting for themselves with all the constant miseries (including some murders committed by the state, if I remember correctly) they felt the need to present themselves “realistically” out of the exhaustion of not seeming to make progress (this is pure hypothesis on my part). If instead they’d made connections with other social movements that had had independent aspects and had theorised this into a critique of external authority more generally, maybe the result would have been different, but almost invariably – and this is a major problem – movements stay within their “comfort zone” because launching into the unknown seems far too dangerous. Much of this “unknown” is not that unknown historically – because history is full of examples that modern movements have yet to try out, mainly because they remain unknown to them, and one of the contributions those of us who want a revolution can make is to try to talk about these historical examples, whilst somehow connecting them to the present…Well all that sounds a bit platitudinous as well, but sometimes banalities have to be repeated.
This chronology – plus links to various texts about South Africa on this site and elsewhere – continues here (but in chronological order, starting with May 2013 and ending up at the end of May 2016)
List of texts on this site:
south africa: street-sweepers “arrest” mayor…& MORE!!! (september 2015)
the third day of september (an eyewitness account of the Sebokeng Rebellion of 1984) by Johannes Rantete (put up on September 3rd 2014, written in September 1984)
south africa & some anarchist responses to mandela’s death (April 2014) Though this is perhaps too focused on 4 individuals’ responses to St.Nelson’s death, it also contains significant facts about South African, and ANC, history.
mandela can go to hell! (and “test taste”/”let us not mourn famous men”) (December 2013) A response to the almost overwhelming bullshit about Mandela.
south africa: another man done gone & post-marikana notes (2012-2013) About cop murders and various struggles in this period.
south africa – now & then (2005/1979/1983/1985) This covers many of the struggles in the period up to 2005, plus texts about S.A. in 1985, 1980 and the Black Consciousness movement from 1976 till 1979.
soweto ’76 (1978/9) Lots of interesting details about the movement in 1976, though written from a white liberal point of view.
A non-definitive list of other interesting texts:
The Durban Strikes 1973 (added to this list on 22/8/14)
turner – on the “ethics” of black consciousness (added to this list on 22/8/14)
whiteout (2013) Though much of this is angry, vibrant, witty, genial rhetoric, which nevertheless remains rather over-general and abstract, it also contains some concrete facts about the Philippi squatters camp and other things going on in S.A. in 2013.
marikana: a point of rupture? This, by insurgent notes, has some interesting facts – on a rather tame and tedious objective academic level – about SA, though it’s particularly tainted by some ridiculous appeal to the Left (rather than to proletarians), to get their politics straight, as if the Left in SA (as elsewhere) hadn’t consistently been part of the problem.
this day in prehistory (2012) A mixture of interesting reflections on some aspects of SA history and some stylistically poetic detours.
the big sell-out (1994) Good, though a bit repetitive, analysis of the ANC and Mandela by Dan Mokonyane, former member of a semi-Trotskyist grouping (which nevertheless never had the idea of becoming a political party) “The movement for a democracy of content”
bounded revolt (chapter 4 of “Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid”). Mainly about the “6 day war” in Alexandra at the beginning of their 6-month struggle in South Africa, 1986.“Old-style African Nationalism faded. A new kind of violence emerged…the young rebels reimagined Alexandra in bold and inventive ways…They reinvented “good” and “bad” spaces…They delineated private spaces such as homes and public spaces such as streets. They recast the meaning of official boundaries” (not sure when this was written, but its subject takes place in 1986)
an extract from “My traitors heart” by Rian Malan An extremely interesting (and often extraordinary) account of the daily life of mine workers (“There was no time or chance to prove yourself – who you are and what you want”) and their stuggle, both unionised and wildcat, in 1985-6.
the third day of september (an eyewitness account of the Sebokeng Rebellion of 1984) by Johannes Rantete “Can it be denied that the riots of Sebokeng were part and parcel of the fight for liberty by black South Africans? Although the motive was to strike against the rising rents, the course taken by the rebellion was so horrible that even the police could not withstand it. This I say because there was no roof of the business buildings that remained tall after the strikes except the well-planned Mphatlalatsane hall, Perm building and various churches. In Zone 11 all the shops were burnt down. The rent office, the bottlestore and the beerhall were burnt . Three houses were burnt One councillor was killed. Several cars were burnt, , including a brandnew Honda Ballade. The petrol station and the soft-drink cash-and-carry wholesale were also attacked. The roadhouse café was broken into and goods were taken away. Tarred and untarred roads in the zone were blocked with stones, boxes and anything else that was easy to carry. The Post Office was attacked and burned, not surprisingly. All the shops in Zone 12 were burnt down too . The rent office, the bottlestore, the beerhall, a doctor’s surgery and the house of a councillor were destroyed by fire. The tarred roads in thie zone were blocked with stones and pelted with bottles and burning objects to hamper the passing of cars – especially police vehicles. Zone 13, where there are more shops, was the first to come under attack. Not a single shop carried its original shape. Everything was in ashes. Here again the rent office was attacked, but the library and two clinics were spared. A house near the shopping centre was burnt. Roads used by buses were pelted with stones and broken bottles. Zone 14 is the undisputed CBD of Sebokeng. It carries public buildings and other large buildings which are not found in other zones . There is the well-known Mphatlalatsane hall, the Perm building, Texido Supermarket, the banks and building societies (Standard, Barclays, Volkskas, United, Allied) and the long frontage of the P & A Dryclearners building. Fire raged through all these buildings. All the shops – a “Hire a TV’ shop, a Kentucky, a beerhall, a bottlestore – were burnt….…The third of September has become a historic day. It saw the fulfilment of the forewarned strikes . . . Some of the victims of the strikes can be identified . . . Evaton’s deputy mayor Dutch Diphoko died in the Sebokeng hospital on Tuesday. Evaton’s mayor, Mr Sam Rabotapi, had to remain homeless after his house was burnt down. His gown was worn by an elderly woman who danced down the streets and called herself the first mayor . . . On Monday the Sharpeville councillor, Mr. Sam Dlamini, was killed by an angry mob. The boy Wisey Mnisi of Zone 12 was gunned to death.”
an extract from “Popular Struggles and Resistance movements in South Africa” Another very interesting account of the ultimately successful boycott movement against a flour, and flour-based products, manufacturing company (a struggle for the reinstatement of sacked workers), particularly interesting in how the division between coloureds and blacks was nurtured under apartheid and how they were broken down.
lessons of azikwelwa by dan mokonyane A very, perhaps overly, detailed but also very interesting account of the successful bus boycott of 1957 against the fare increases by one of its leading participants, which also shows how the ANC were amongst the first to want to sell-out the struggle. Also includes a brief history of South African capital from the late 19th century onwards. First published in 1979.
Brief resumé of aspects of the history of the Boers: “…Grievances the Boers held against the British started when British missionaries started to defend the rights of black Africans against the abuse by the Boers; that the “grievances” accelerated when the British outlawed slavery in Britain, and pushed against slavery in South Africa, eventually outlawing it there in 1834.
Dissatisfied with the compensation provided for emancipation, the Boers were positively outraged by the British determination that there should be equality between black and white, and embarked on their “Great Trek.” This rejection of racial equality is fundamental to the “Volk” identity of the Boer’s and their ideology as a “tribe” not a settler, colonizing formation. The rejection of racial equality was enshrined in the constitution of South Africa.
Secondly, I was referring to the historical role of the Boers as a social formation, as the word coming from the German for peasant but morphing to mean free farmers. The expulsion of black Africans from the land was first a precondition for the development of capitalism in South Africa, and became essential to its maintenance, providing a dispossessed labor force for rural and agricultural employment. That much of the Boer population moved into cities is part of that development, just as it is in every capitalist society. Nothing special about that; and nothing that shreds the legacy of Boer ideology and activity.
The power of the Boer ideology was predominant in South Africa, regardless of the numbers involved in actual farming; just as the ideology of the “happy, pre-Civil War South” was, and still is, dominant in the South. That ideology is white supremacy, and it reflects the very real material relations of the Boers to the black Africans.”
The story of a South African revolutionary (1992) (added 12/2/16)
Transition from below, Chapter 5 – “It was just chaotic” The apartheid workplace regime, political challenge and ‘ungovernability’ in the workplace. (added 12/2/16). 2 more chapters added on 20th July 2016: Strike committee at Witbank and Transition From Below Chapter 7
Added 15/8/16: Letter from Iranian Workers, an open letter of solidarity warning South African workers from having illusions in the ANC, and making comparisons with the situation in Iran at the tme of the 1979 revolution.
Added 16/2/17: INSIDE QUADRO, an article about mutiny in the “people´s army” of the ANC/CP and the torture-camps where dissidents were mutilated (some to death) with the latests methods learned from their sponsors (at that time) the USSR (United Stalinists for the Suppression of Revolution). It´s importance, among other things, lies in the link it makes between the formalised state (in-waiting)-terrorism of the ANC´s insecurity apparatus (convincingly described as an extension of the KGB in Africa) outside the borders of the country, and the informalised para-state terrorism inside South Africa during what is presented by the spectacle as a miraculously peaceful transition — the 18,000 killed in massacres and political violence during this period have literally been wiped out of the history books (the ones I remember reading at school in the New South Africa, in any case). [note by SK]