Katorus Stories

Deadly apartheid violenceThe news of ethnic violence and killings in Kenya has reminded us of our own experiences in the 1980s and 1990s both on the East Rand and in Natal as it was known then.

Official records say over 3000 people were killed on the East Rand between 1990 and 1994.

The apartheid government labelled it “black on black violence”. "katorus stories" is a book about this violence.

It lifts away the label of 'black on black' violence and peers deeper into the causes of the bloodshed.

The book is a result of an "art and memory" workshop held in February and March 2007 by the Khulumani Support Group.

Its purpose was to help residents of the area remember back to that time, tell the stories, draw the 'pictures in their minds', understand the forces that were working against them and help them to move on and away from their pain.

Filled with these pictures, stories, official accounts and newspaper articles and photos, the book describes the depth of the violence that people were subjected to.

Violence was not a "one-off event, but (as) a series of blows, one kick after another, until they blur into a chant, a chorus that repeats with each separate verse".

The "scars" that remain are like "a mass grave of ambitions and hopes, covered over with the earth of every-day survival.

"At the end of the workshop many of the participants have found hope: "we have not lost our way; we can find our way forward.

We can maintain peace, find ubuntu, restore dignity."Read it because as one of the participant's says: "We need people to remember our pain, to know that we have paid for our democracy."

From the book:"It was 22 May, a Saturday. We were marching to the municipality offices for rent.

At Thokoza hostel, we saw white soldiers in the hippo painting themselves with black-face, with rifles in their hands.

They were saying – "shoot these children" – pointing to the marchers.The marchers did not have weapons, they were just marching, singing.

Here people died from the shooting.With the soldiers were also the IFP with red bands on their heads, carrying spears.

They burnt the houses, shot into them."Dora A. Thango

Udlame lobandlululo olubulalayo“izindaba zase-katorus” incwadi ekhuluma ngodlame lwaseMpumalanga Randi e-Katorus ((Katlehong, Thokoza nase-Vosloorus) olususa ilebili yodlame ‘lomnyama komnyama’ nontanga lujule ezimbangeleni zokuchitheka kwegazi.

Umkhiqizo womhlangano “wobuciko kanye nenkumbulo” owawubanjwe ngoFebhruwari nangoMashi 2007 yi-Khulumani Support Group, incwadi yakha kabusha isikhathi esibuhlungu ngezindaba kanye nezithombe zabahlali kanye nemibiko esemthethweni kanye nezithombe eziphuma emaphephandabeni.

Yifundeni – njengoba omunye wabahlanganyeli ethi: “Sifuna abantu ukuthi bakhumbule ubuhlungu bethu, ukuthi bazi ukuthi umbuso wentando yeningi sawukhokhela”

Dodelike apartheidsgeweld"katorus stories" is ‘n boek oor die geweld in Katorus aan die Oos-Rand (Katlehong, Thokoza en Vosloorus) wat die etiket van swart-teen-swart-geweld opsyskuif, en dieper na die oorsake van die bloedvergieting kyk.

As produk van ‘n werkswinkel met die onderwerp “kuns en geheue” wat in Februarie en Maart 2007 deur die Khulumani Ondersteuningsgroep gehou is, rekonstrueer die boek daardie pynlike tydperk deur verhale en foto’s van inwoners, asook amptelike verslae en foto’s uit koerante.

Lees dit gerus – soos een van die deelnemers sê: “Ons wil hê mense moet ons pyn onthou; dat hulle sal weet ons het vir ons demokrasie betaal.”

Merusu ya aparteite e fetileng ka maphelo a batho"katorus stories" ke buka e mabapi le merusu e ileng ya etsahala mane East Rand, Katorus (Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus) mme yona e hlakisa menyenyetsi e neng e le teng ya hore ho na le merusu ya “ba batsho ba hlaselang ba bang ba batsho”, e be e sheba sesosa sa ho qhalwa hona ha madi.

Jwalo ka ntho e hlahisitsweng wekeshopong ya "bonono le sehopotso" e neng e tshwerwe ka Hlakola le Tlhakubele 2007 ke ba Khulumani Support Group, buka ena e hlahisa botjha nako eo ya masisapelo ka dipale le ditshwantsho tsa badudi ekasitana le ditlaleho tsa semmuso le dinepe ho tswa dikoranteng.

E baleng – jwalo ka ha e mong ya neng a na le seabo moo a ileng a bolela: "Re batla hore batho ba hopole bohloko boo re fetileng ho bona, ba tsebe hore re lefile bakeng sa demokerasi ena ya rona."

A resident remembers:East Rand – the boiling pot!John Mofokeng

East Rand was one deadly area to visit or live in, in the early 1990s. Especially Thokoza with sections like Beirut, Iraq, Mlangeni, Kathrada, Phenduka.

There were warriors with red headbands and their slaughter houses were Mshayazafe, Thokoza and the soccer fields at the back of the hostels.

We were caught in the crossfire at the beginning of this savage war that took so many lives of the innocent, ignorant, the brave, the heroes and the leaders alike.We hardly slept, hardly went to work.

We were ethnically divided and had to quickly associate either with the hostel (Zulu-Phenduka, Phumla Mncashi) or Phola Park (Dunusa), (Xhosa Phola Park, Beirut, Vergenoeg, Khumlabantshi, Ntabansimbi).

Thokoza was war-torn, divided and merciless. People were lost, or died and never accounted for. Some were buried as paupers yet they had relatives.

People's private parts were cut off, eyes gouged out, tongues ripped, hands chopped off, hearts ripped by bullets and yet we still lived and hoped for a better day tomorrow.

We learned to walk through covers (doublabs). All houses cut their fences so we could move and run swiftly between them.

House numbers were removed. When the shooting started, police would drive in the opposite direction (fearing for their own lives) to avoid the situation. Hour after hour they would come in to assist the red headband warriors.

Houses were burnt, people maimed, equipment stolen and properties destroyed.We had our days and the hostels had theirs.

They attacked us on a march after Sam Ntuli (a community leader and a Numsa organiser) was killed and during his funeral.

Some people were caught and taken to the hostel and they were taken out at the back of the hostel called "embobeni".

One guy survived this ordeal but others did not. They would take you out and tell you to 'run, you are free', yet they stand and shoot you as you run away.

Oh Thokoza, a beautiful little township, but hell on earth!Today we rejoice in the freedom and wish it no more, hoping for everlasting peace because we know war – our slogan was "tough times never last, tough people do!"

(Mofokeng is a Samwu chairperson who lived in Tokoza at the time)

(We have two copies to give away. Write or phone Numsa News or phone the Khulumani Support Group direct on 011 403 4098 and speak to Freedom)


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