About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Introduction

Statistics

By the end of May 1993, the total number of fatalities in political violence since its outbreak in September 1984 was 15 843, nearly two thirds of them since the beginning of 1990.

Most violent deaths nevertheless arise not from politics but from ordinary crime. In 1991, for example, there were nearly 14 700 murders, of which about 80% appeared to be unrelated to political questions. In 1992, according to official figures, 88% of murders were apparently not politically related. In 19831992, during which period there were more than 15 000 political fatalities, there were more than 118 000 murders altogether. Even though the dividing line between the different types of violence is sometimes blurred, this study will concentrate on political violence.

Socio-economic Factors

Political violence is partly rooted in poverty, squalor, and unemployment, problems which cannot be dealt with in the short term. Also, one should beware of blaming the violence too strongly on socio-economic factors. Personal income per head in the Pretoria/Witwatersrand/Vereeniging (PWV) area is more than double the national average, but this region alone has at times accounted for half the violence in the country. There are also localised causes, such as the battle for market share among taxi owners.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.