The Boipatong Massacre (pictured throughout) was an incident involving a mass attack by 300 armed men who lived in the Inkatha Freedom Party‘s (IFP) KwaMadala Hostel, leaving nearly 50 residents of the Joe Slovo informal Settlement dead. The IFP were rivals of the African National Congress (ANC), and it has been speculated that the attack was staged to upend talks between the ANC and the Nationalist Party (NP) that year.
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The attack began in the evening on this date in 1992. There has been several stories speculating on the origins of the attack, but what is agreed upon by historians is that the attack severely damaged progress in the Congress for Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations between the NP and several other political groups. The ANC blamed the NP for the attack and withdrew itself from the CODESA talks.
With the varying accounts over the past two decades, it has been difficult to nail down what exactly happened and who was involved. It was rumored that then-President F.W. De Klerk ordered some of his own security detail to help the armed IFP members slaughter residents using spears, guns, and machetes.
Because of the ANC’s sway with the people, the rumor of De Klerk’s involvement and an assumed desire by him to stamp out the political group took hold. De Klerk visited Boipatong days after, and he was met by an angry mob of protesters.
ANC figureheads Nelson and Winnie Mandela rallied around the grieving families, with the future ANC president speaking to the matter frankly in a speech days later:
“I am convinced we are no longer dealing with human beings but animals…. We will not forget what Mr. De Klerk, the National Party, and the Inkatha Freedom Party have done to our people. I have never seen such cruelty,” said Mandela to Boipatong residents. Mandela and the ANC were convinced that the NP orchestrated the attacks to disrupt Black South African unity.
The Goldstone Commission was assigned to independently investigate the political violence in Boipatong, and British criminologist Dr. Peter A.J. Waddington led the inquiry.
In his investigation, he learned that the police did not collect forensic evidence that could aid in capturing the IFP members accused of the brutal attack.
Still, Waddington concluded that the South African police were not complicit in the massacre.
In 1993, however, members of the IFP came forth after the country’s transition to democratic rule and confessed their crimes, regarding their role in the Boipatong Massacre, with more than 100 Boipatong residents and five State witnesses testifying.
The 16 IFP members appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), revealing that the attack was a matter of revenge after the Boipatong Self Defense Units (SDU) shot and killed IFP members.
Watch real-time footage of the Boipatong Massacre here:
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