Message of hope for two townships sick of violence

A SENIOR African National Congress official, kept in chains three years ago because he was suspected of having led a plot to overthrow the government, read out a statement written by President F W de Klerk yesterday before 1,000 ANC supporters.

The official was Mac Maharaj; the venue a community hall in Katlehong; the response rapturous. The statement provided a detailed plan to bring peace to this, South Africa's most violent township.

Flanked by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo and other ANC grandees, Mr Maharaj delivered the first piece of evidence that, three months ahead of the first democratic elections, joint black and white rule had taken hold.

Three weeks ago, after Mr Slovo and the ANC Secretary General, Cyril Ramaphosa, were shot at in Katlehong, Mr Mandela held an urgent meeting with President de Klerk and told him this and the neighbouring township of Thokoza (known as the East Rand townships) should be declared a national disaster area. Close to 2,000 people had been killed here since May (80 per cent of the national total in political violence); thousands more were driven from their homes; public services had broken down.

Mr Maharaj, who serves in South Africa's new power-sharing body, the Transitional Executive Council, declared that the East Rand held the key to peace in South Africa.

Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk, working closely with the TEC, hammered out a plan. Yesterday the TEC formally approved it and Mr Mandela, anxious to convey the good news, cancelled all engagements and rushed to Katlehong.

After the fiasco of the shootings three weeks ago, when a journalist was killed, the police were also anxious - this time to make absolutely certain that the ANC party was safe.

Four police armoured vehicles met Mr Mandela's convoy outside Katlehong and, with a police helicopter hovering overhead, escorted him to the community hall. The scene outside the hall conjured images of the D-Day landings, so massive was the police and army presence. Inside the mood evoked the liberation of Paris.

No community has suffered more in South Africa and now, the expressions on the faces said it, the redeemer had arrived. 'I have come here on a very important matter - in order to save lives,' Mr Mandela declared. And then he introduced Mr Maharaj.

The announcement of the first part of the peace plan brought the house down. In response to demands from the people of Katlehong, Mr de Klerk had agreed to withdraw the Internal Stability Unit, previously known as the riot police, from the township. In its place - this news was greeted with no less enthusiasm - would come the army. The soldiers would, among other things, provide for the safe return of people forced out of their homes by violence.

They would also assist in a repair and reconstruction programme backed by ample government funds. The township's electricity and water supplies, roads, sewage and refuse removal would be substantially upgraded.

The aim, Mr Maharaj said, was to make the East Rand 'a model of peace, stability and development'. Miracles, he warned, could not be expected overnight but the era of despair had ended.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower