Ciskei's spiralling cycle of revenge

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HE HAD guessed that his tin home was a target so Buyisile Tyelentombi moved everything out - the fridge, the bed, the toaster - to a neighbour's care. The villagers who gathered after dark on Tuesday night seized Mr Tyelentombi's possessions, moved them back into his home and burnt it to the ground. He had paid the price of membership of Ciskei's army after Monday's massacre of 29 African National Congress marchers.

It did not take long for word to spread through the sprawling streets of Ndevana that Mr Tyelentombi and the other men snatching people off the street and forcing them into the boots of their red and grey Ford Sierras were out for vengeance.

Retaliation and counter-retaliation for the slaughter of the marchers hit the black 'homeland' yesterday. In scattered villages and townships, members of the Ciskei Defence Force and Ciskei police were burnt out of their homes. They hit back by hunting down ANC supporters.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Ciskei military, but those from the 'homeland' who were on Monday's march did not need very much more encouragement after Chris Hani, the ever-popular Communist Party chief, warned that soldiers who fired on the demonstrators would be made to pay some price.

Mr Hani had been in Ndevana on Sunday encouraging people to join the protest against their military leader, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo. Many did. The Ciskei troops living there sensed the mood and left before the march. They had not returned by the time Mr Tyelentombi's and two other soldiers' homes were torched.

Yesterday Mr Tyelentombi's wife and brother were scouring the smouldering embers, waiting for him to return. She had little to say, but the brother, Ntsikelldlo, was more forthcoming. He said he knew his home was destroyed because his brother was a soldier.

A few minutes later Buyisile arrived in his red Sierra with two colleagues, pistols stuffed in their belts. Initially he looked surprised to see strangers when his neighbours were steering clear, but then heturned surly and suspicious and walked away.

Makeshift barricades of rocks and old car parts littered Ndevana but they did not stop the red Sierra. Alfred Nkonye said the men inside were responsible for the large weals across his back.

'I took my cows to the veld. When I was coming back to my house they stopped me and told me I must move all the rocks in the road, and then they started to hit me. One man hit me with a sjambok, one hit me with a stick. They wanted to know who were the people who burnt the houses last night,' he said.

Several other young men thought to be ANC sympathisers were picked up by Mr Tyelentombi. Mzolisi Ngalo was pointed out as a Communist Party supporter by a pastor in the Ciskei military. He was stuffed into the car boot and driven to a police station where he was held with more than 20 other people until it was his turn for the beating. Afterward the sjambok marks ran from his legs to halfway up his back. The hair on the left of his head had formed a small bloodied knot.

Finally Mr Tyelentombi and his colleagues went in search of Lennox Handi, the Ndevana ANC branch chairman. They arrived at his home carrying a five-litre can of petrol. They kicked his 18-year-old sister Lilian in the mouth and walloped another sister, Funeke, on the head with a gun. Then they threatened to burn the house to the ground. 'We just said Lennox left on Monday, but they said they'd seen him. He's gone. We're not staying here either. It's too dangerous. Soldiers said they'd be back later to burn the house after dark,' said Funeke.

(Photograph omitted)

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