72 days that shaped South Africa (2)

Just how “miraculous” was South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy? How close did the country really come to civil war?

Check out our press clipping snapshots of the 72 days leading up to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as SA’s first democratically elected President – and see how heavily the odds were stacked against “the rainbow nation”.

7 MARCH 1994

Bop looks poised to register

Bophuthatswana looks poised to register for the April elections, notwithstanding Friday night’s registration deadline – while the right wing faces turmoil over whether to go to the polls.
Bophuthatswana government sources said yesterday a crucial meeting would be held today to decide whether to register the homeland’s ruling Christian Democratic Party for the elections.
Indications yesterday were that the Afrikaner Volksfront was still divided over whether to join the election process, and pressure was mounting within and outside the AVF to take part.
The Star, Monday 7 March 1994

8 MARCH 1994

Mangope calls out troops as unrest flares

Tensions in Bophuthatswana rose yesterday after the homeland’s government decided against registering for the election and the ANC called for a blockade of the territory.
Police vehicles were set alight, ANC offices were petrol-bombed and police teargassed striking public servants and the offices of Lawyers for Human Rights.
The Bophuthatswana Defence Force was called in as the homeland tried to contain unrest as the public servants’ strike entered its fourth week.
Business Day, Tuesday 8 March 1994

End looms for two despised laws

The writing is on the wall for two of SA’s most despised laws – Section 29 of the Internal Security Act and Section 206 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
The Transitional Executive Council’s law and order subcouncil yesterday recommended that Section 29 be repealed immediately. It said 75% of the subcouncil’s members favoured abolishing Section 29 immediately, while the minority favoured retaining it after an SAP report had recommended that it should not be scrapped until after the election.
Business Day, Tuesday 8 March 1994

TEC turns to flag question as time runs out

Pretoria – With time running out for a final decision on a flag for the new SA, the Transitional Executive Council today considers designs for the first time.
There have been suggestions that the peace flag be used until the government of national unity can deal with the matter after the elections. However, a management committee member said this was not an option.
The ANC expected that about 100 000 new flags would have to be made for the new government’s inauguration. Local manufacturers, alarmed at the delay, have urged quick action.
Business Day, Tuesday 8 March 1994

9 MARCH 1994

TEC bares teeth at Bop

The Transitional Executive Council (TEC) last night threatened strong action against the Bophuthatswana government.
The range of threatened measures, including the cutting off of funds to Bophuthatswana, came as the protest and strike crisis in the homeland deepened yesterday.
There were also reports last night of security forces firing live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the “raging masses”.
The Star, Wednesday 9 March 1994

Arms theft: SAP move in

Police are understood to be questioning a South African Air Force flight sergeant in connection with the theft of weapons from 10 Air Depot at Voortrekkerhoogte at the weekend.
Sources said several other men – all believed to be SAAF employees – are being sought for questioning.
The ANC has expressed its “serious concern” about the theft and the regularity of such raids on SADF arms depositories.
The Star, Wednesday 9 March 1994

Businessman’s cellular phone launched

Coinciding with an international launch, OfficeMart has introduced the Nokia 2110, which it claims is the smallest, lightest and most feature-packed digital cellular unit on the market.
Capabilities include 125 memory locations, speed dial memory slots and high-speed wireless data/fax support. It costs R4 199.
The Star Business, Wednesday 9 March 1994

10 MARCH 1994

40 wounded as Mangope’s men open fire

Mmabatho – About 40 people were shot and wounded, three critically, when police opened fire on demonstrators in the Bophuthatswana capital yesterday.
As tensions heightened, the public servants’ strike widened.
President Lucas Mangope took a hardline stance, rejecting Independent Electoral Commission chairman Judge Johann Kriegler’s plea for free political activity in the homeland, and firing the staff of the Bophuthatswana Broadcasting Corporation, closing down two television stations and three radio stations.
Business Day, Thursday 10 March 1994

Inkatha, Freedom Front fail to submit candidates’ lists to IEC

Confusion reigned at the Independent Electoral Commission’s offices in Johannesburg yesterday as the 4.30pm deadline for the submission of candidates’ lists passed, and IEC chairman Judge Johann Kriegler conceded that his “final” deadline could be amended retrospectively if there was political agreement.
However, the Inkatha Freedom Party, General Constand Viljoen’s Freedom Front and the unknown Realist Party had failed to submit their lists three hours after the deadline. Twenty-six parties beat the deadline to confirm their participation in the April election.
Business Day, Thursday 10 March 1994

11 MARCH 1994

SADF heads for Bop

Mmabatho – The South African Defence Force began roling towards riot-torn Bophuthatswana before dawn today amid reports that heavily armed rightwingers had mobilised to assist the homeland’s troops.
Foreign Minister Pik Botha said today that the government had ordered SADF troops to the South African embassy in Bophuthatswana.
Heavy rioting has now spread to most parts of the homeland, and gunfire could be heard throughout the night.
The Star, Friday 11 March 1994

Mangope flees home

Bophuthatswana’s leader Lucas Mangope fled the homeland’s capital in a helicopter last night. Tracing the route of his escape from Mmabatho, Sowetan has confirmed that his helicopter first landed at his rural home at Motswedi and later at Sun City.
Sporadic shots could be heard in Mmabatho last night after a day of widespread looting. The movement of armed members of the AWB near Ventersdorp was also reported.
Earlier, thousands of singing residents took to the streets of the capital waving ANC and SACP placards. Police presence was at an absolute minimum, with only three police cars seen scurrying towards the massive show of popular support for Bop’s reincorporation into South Africa.
The Sowetan, Friday 11 March 1994

12 MARCH 1994

Horror slaying of 3 AWB men

“Please God help get us some medical help”, pleaded the bearded member of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB).
They were his last words before a Bophuthatswana soldier calmly stepped up and pumped six bullets into the bearded, khaki-clad man and two colleagues in Mmabatho yesterday, reports an eyewitness, Reuters photographer Kevin Carter.
At least 60 people have been killed in Bophuthatswana and 300 wounded or injured in three days of continuous rioting, looting, burning and fighting, mostly around the capital Mmabatho.
Thousands of heavily armed right-wingers made to leave Bophuthatswana after fierce fighting with the Bophuthatswana Defence Force (BDF).
But as they pulled out from the BDF airstrip in a 400 vehicle convoy, they were again confronted by troop carriers of the BDF.
The Citizen, Saturday 12 March 1994

Front makes cut-off: IFP misses out

A Freedom Front delegation submitted its candidates’ list at the Independent Electoral Commission’s Johannesburg office minutes before yesterday’s midnight deadline.
But IEC official Norman du Plessis said the Inkatha Freedom Party had failed to register in time for the midnight cut-off.
Du Plessis said this meant the IFP “comes off the ballot”. Technically, this meant the party would no longer be able to contest the election.
Weekend Star, Saturday 12 March 1994

13 MARCH 1994

TEC, SA to take over in Bop

A joint Transitional Executive Council (TEC) and South African government delegation flew into Bophuthatswana last night to begin taking control of the homeland.
This followed an emergency meeting of the TEC management committee to discuss President Lucas Mangope’s refusal to give Independent Electoral Commission head Justice Johann Kriegler satisfactory assurances that he would allow free and fair elections in the territory.
Sunday Times, Sunday 13 March 1994

Research, photos: Ndaba Dlamini

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