72 days that shaped South Africa (3)

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”.

14 MARCH 1994

Mangope is axed

Bophuthatswana President Lucas Mangope was finally ousted yesterday, but over 60 people lost their lives in a week of drama that changed the face of the Western Transvaal region.
Mangope was removed from office by South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and Transitional Executive Council (TEC) member Mac Maharaj following a late night flight into the capital Mmabatho on Saturday.
Anger grew among residents as the immensity of the loss of black lives, partly through random shootings by ultra-rightwingers on Friday, came to the fore.
Sowetan, Monday 14 March 1994

IFP won’t take part in election

The IFP will not contest next month’s election despite the “good progress” made at Friday’s meeting between the party and the ANC on whether or not to seek international mediation, IFP central committee members confirmed yesterday.
Members Walter Felgate and Dr Ziba Jiyane said the party’s central committee meeting in Ulundi on Thursday had settled the election issue.
“We have decided against participation in the election, and we have no intention of submitting any lists of candidates”, said Felgate, one of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s most trusted advisers.
The Star, Monday 14 March 1994

Bizarre stunt pulls crowds to festival

Ermelo – Despite angry protests from animal lovers throughout the country, the controversial parachute jump by a horse from a helicopter took place at the weekend.
However, it was not Jonti the seven-year-old blue roan in the flesh, but rather a realistic polystyrene reproduction that splattered as it hit the ground from about 400m.
Amid cheers, a record audience roared cries of “Long live Jonti” as the live horse’s owner, Oubaas de Jager, proudly rode him around the arena.
The announcement by the Wool Carnival Committee last week that Jonti, fitted with a specially designed parachute, would jump from a hovering helicopter, drew adverse reaction from animal lovers throughout the country.
The Star, Monday 14 March 1994

15 MARCH 1994

Edgy Bop awaits Mandela

Uneasy calm returned to Bophuthatswana yesterday with the South African Defence Force firmly in control of security while a general mopping-up operation began after a week of mayhem.
Meanwhile, Mmabatho is abuzz with expectations as African National Congress president Mr Nelson Mandela and Professor Itumeleng Mosala, president of the Azanian People’s Organisation, address separate rallies in Mmabatho today.
Sowetan, Tuesday 15 March 1994

Mangope may sue

Kimberley – Deposed Bophuthatswana President Lucas Mangope said yesterday he still considered himself the legal leader of Bophuthatswana and was considering legal action against the South African government for removing him from power at the weekend.
The Citizen, Tuesday 15 March 1994

ET claims victory in Bop

Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugene Terre’Blanche said yesterday his movement had scored a “brilliant victory” in Bophuthatswana, and his men who were ambushed while withdrawing from Mmabatho on Friday were heroes.
Saying he was “terribly sorry the AWB members had no opportunity to stay [in the former homeland] and continue their work”, Mr Terre’Blanche told local and international newsmen at a media conference in Ventersdorp that what had happened in Bophuthatswana was a “resounding triumph for the AWB”.
The Citizen, Tuesday 15 March 1994

16 MARCH 1994

‘My nation, I greet you’

ANC leader Nelson Mandela was yesterday given a hero’s welcome at Bophuthatswana’s Independence Stadium by 50 000 people.
Mandela’s opening words, delivered in Tswana, drew thundersouls applause from the crowd: “My nation, I greet you.” Thousands of ANC posters were held aloft as the crowd roared its admiration.
In his speech at the stadium, Mandela labelled the revolt which led to the fall of Lucas Mangope’s government as a “people’s uprising”, insisting it was the people, not the De Klerk government, that had toppled Mangope.
The Star, Wednesday 16 March 1994

New national flag unveiled

Pretoria – South Africa’s new national flag was unveiled yesterday.
Designed by state herald Fred Brownell, the flag was accepted unanimously by the Transitional Executive Council (TEC). It will be raised officially after April’s election.
While the new constituent assembly would be able to change the flag, all TEC delegates said they were satisfied with the six-colour design.
TEC NP representative Roelf Meyer said the flag would “grow in the minds of South Africans”. It had a good chance of becoming SA’s final flag, he said.
It was one of more than 7 000 designs submitted to multiparty negotiators last year. A TEC subcommittee of Meyer and ANC delegate Cyril Ramaphosa, in conjunction with the technical advisory committee, made the final recommendation.
Ramaphosa said the flag’s colours would have meaning for everyone in SA.
Brownell, who was also responsible for Namibia’s flag, said the colours had no specific meaning. “Symbolism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”
The TEC also accepted that Die Stem and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika would be used as SA’s interim national anthems.
Business Day, Wednesday 16 March 1994

Insurers struggle to provide cover as vehicle theft tops R3bn a year

Nylstroom – Vehicle theft in SA had reached such proportions that insurance companies might soon be unable to provide theft cover as part of their usual motor policies, SA Insurance Association CEO Rodney Schneeberger said yesterday.
Theft cover would have to be provided at a much higher premium, separate from other insurance, he said at an international vehicle theft conference.
Delegates heard that vehicle theft had cost the SA economy more than R3.02-billion last year.
Business Day, Wednesday 16 March 1994

17 MARCH 1994

De Klerk warns Right

State President De Klerk last night announced that the government had made a number of contingency plans to prevent the right wing from attempting to take over authority over towns as part of their resistance against the new constitution.
Speaking in Pretoria last night after the weekly cabinet meeting, Mr De Klerk said it appeared that the Conservative Party and the Volksfront’s plan for mass action, starting on March 29, could include physical attempts to take control of some local authorities.
The Citizen, Thursday 17 March 1994

Ciskei agrees to pay out pensions

East London – Ciskei’s government agreed yesterday to pay pension benefits to public servants who this week threatened “Bophuthatswana-style action” if their demands were not met.
But it rejected their demands for an interim administrator for the territory as “a deliberate provocation which can only bring about instability and violence”, and warned against strikes.
Business Day, Thursday 17 March 1994

McDonald’s wins trademark war

A local company owned by Chicken Licken franchise owner George Sombocos was yesterday found in contempt in a battle over the McDonald’s trademark.
The move could herald the entry of the McDonald’s fast food chain into SA.
Justice RW Nugent found yesterday in the Pretoria Supreme Court that Joburger’s Drive-Inn Restaurant, the compay owned by Sombocos, was in contempt of court. Its application to have McDonald’s trademarks expunged from the SA trademarks register was stayed, and it was ordered to pay costs as a mark of the court’s displeasure.
In September McDonald’s obtained an interim interdict stopping the local company from infringing its trademarks pending the final outcome of Joburger’s application for the McDonald’s trademark to be removed from the register.
Sombocos had since acquired an outlet in Point Head, Durban, called McDonald’s, and a contempt application was brought by McDonald’s in the US.
Business Day, Thursday 17 March 1994

18 MARCH 1994

SAP generals accused

Top South African Police generals – including the SAP’s number two men – are understood to be directly implicated by the Goldstone Commission in the supply of weapons to members of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Intelligence sources told The Star yesterday that an imminent commission report will accuse the generals of involvement in an arms-supply network and other violence related activities from 1990.
The sources claim that the report on the Goldstone Commission’s investigation into, among other matters, arms smuggling and distribution, provides unprecedented evidence of the existence of “third force” activity within elements of the police.
The Star, Friday 18 March 1994

Ulundi talks postponed

The meeting between Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and African National Congress president Mr Nelson Mandela in Ulundi today has been called off. This was confirmed by an ANC spokesman after fears were expressed earlier by the movement there might be an assassination attempt on Mandela.
Addressing the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, IFP president Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he had arranged for extra South African Police in Ulundi on Friday, saying “only an insane person” would try to assassinate the ANC leader.
If Mandela was killed “the whole country would go up in flames”, he said.
Sowetan, Friday 18 March 1994

Buthelezi beats the drum ever harder

Ulundi – About 100km from the KwaZulu capital, a solitary National Party election poster, bearing President De Klerk’s face, hangs crookedly on a telephone pole alongside the main road.
It appears to be the only physical evidence anywhere near Ulundi that the country’s first ever multiracial election is only weeks away.
At first glance it seems to be business as usual when you arrive in the dry, dusty capital dorp in rural KwaZulu.
At the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, however, it became evident yesterday that emotions are extremely high and the election is foremost in many minds.
KwaZulu Chief Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi opened this year’s sitting with probably his toughest speech yet. President De Klerk was accused of “double-crossing and deceit” in his handling of negotiations.
Buthelezi warned that the conflict between the ANC and IFP had for some time been in danger of “being turned into a conflict which can only be ended in a fight right to the finish”.
The Star, Friday 18 March 1994

19 MARCH 1994

Tensions high as king urges UDI

Ulundi – Clouds of confrontation have begun to gather over KwaZulu, with King Goodwill Zwelithini suggesting yesterday that the region is on the point of a unilateral declaration of independence.
It is evident that the atmosphere in the territory is extremely tense, and addresses by leaders have taken on an increasingly belligerent tone in recent days.
Speaking here yesterday at a gathering of the king’s subjects – which was to have been addressed by ANC president Nelson Mandela – the Zulu king urged Zulus to defend their freedom and sovereignty “at all costs”.
He added that such sovereignty would be denied by an election under the Interim Constitution.
Weekend Star, Saturday 19 March 1994

3 SAP generals to be probed

An international task force will investigate allegations that deputy police commissioner, General Basie Smit, and another two top South African Police generals, Major-General Krappies Engelbrecht and Lieutenant-General Johan le Roux, have been involved in violence to destabilise the country.
The announcement about a Goldstone Commission report on the alleged activities of a criminal network was made by State President De Klerk at a press conference in Pretoria last night.
Mr De Klerk said the generals and other named police officers had been placed on immediate leave following allegations in the interim Goldstone Commission report that they, Inkatha Freedom Party officials and other SAP officers had been involved in a “horrible network of criminal activity”.
The Citizen, Saturday 19 March 1994

20 MARCH 1994

SA might have to send troops to Natal

The SA government might be compelled to use force if King Goodwill Zwelithini goes ahead with plans to annex KwaZulu/Natal as a Zulu kingdom.
Leading constitutional expert Prof John Dugard said that if the Zulu monarch’s proclamation on Friday amounted to secession, then force might have to be used to maintain the sovereignty of the country.
Dugard said King Zwelithini’s decision could also encourage white right-wingers to unilaterally declare independence and establish a Volkstaat, probably in the eastern Transvaal, which would make it easy for them to link up with KwaZulu/Natal.
City Press, Sunday 20 March 1994

Third force hunter is now the hunted

A series of inconclusive inquiries into political violence by Major-General Krappies Engelbrecht will come under fresh scrutiny in the next fortnight by a team of international investigators appointed by President FW de Klerk.
The Goldstone commission, which heard evidence that General Engelbrecht was one of three top generals implicated in “third force” activity, has a mass of new information to put before the investigators.
This information is expected to throw a spotlight on the remarkable record of failure by the SA Police to resolve a series of cases of serious political violence.
Sunday Times, Sunday 20 March 1994

Research, photos: Ndaba Dlamini

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