Double blow to Natal’s fragile peace

In Johannesburg, a major business conference was the scene of an acrimonious confrontation between Cosatu general secretary Jay Naidoo and Inkatha chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. And at a press conference in Durban Inkatha Youth Brigade leaders challenged the United Democratic Front to explain why they had not responded to Inkatha's proposal of a joint monitoring committee to halt violence in the Natal townships.

Youth brigade leaders spell out their attitudes to the conflict with the Cosatu-UDF alliance. National organiser, Ntwe MafoIe, said: "If somebody takes my eye out I will take somebody's eye out; if they take my tooth out I will take somebody's tooth out; if they stab me I will stab. That is defence." And KwaZulu MP Velaphi Ndlovu added, "As far as Inkatha (who is being attacked) is concerned there is no difference between self-defence and retaliation. It is all one thing."

Speaking at the Financial Mail s investment conference in Johannesburg, Naidoo said the KwaNatal Indaba was an undemocratic regional solution based on principles similar to those of the tricameral parliament. Naidoo said the growing violence against Cosatu members in Natal was not a case of black-on-black violence but a battle for political supremacy in Natal. It was an attempt to crush the democratic alternative which had been offered with the growth of trade unions and community organisations. "Scores of Cosatu members who work in your factories in Natal have been killed and injured in attacks from roving bands bent on crushing all non-Inkatha activity," he told the businessmen.

Buthelezi, who was in the audience and is due to address the conference today, leapt up to accuse Naidoo of inaccuracies. He said the violence in Natal had been "deliberately fomented" and referred to "broadcasts from Lusaka and Addis Ababa and our brothers in the ANC calling for collaborators to be killed and for the country to be made ungovernable".

He said Inkatha was a voluntary organisation and had never forced members to join. In Durban, leaders of the Inkatha Youth Brigade called a news conference to outline their stance on the current violence. Musa Zondi, who heads the organisation, said the fact that the UDF had not responded to the proposals for a joint monitoring committee "pointed a finger ' at who was the aggressor in the conflict.

He also claimed UDF President Archie Gumede had "problems" with his constituency and could not get them to approve such a committee. Until the violence, in which the UDF was the aggressor, was ended, Inkatha members would be entitled to their "inalienable right" of self-defence. Asked to spell out what the organisation understood by self-defence, Mafole said "When you are attacked someone will retaliate in some or other way, depending on what you did."

Mafole, who has been convicted of attempted murder and public violence, but is out of jail pending an appeal, added, "We as Inkatha have put up a principle that we will defend ourselves. "Somebody may stab an Inkatha Youth Brigade member to death at the Pinetown taxi rank. And what happens? What does Inkatha Youth Brigade do in that situation? (Inter-jection: "They go to the courts.") Who knows what they do? I am merely saying you can't draw a line."

These incidents came at the end of a week in which 11 people died in the Pietermaritzburg townships and violence spilled over into other areas. – Hilary Joffe

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.


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