Kgalema, L. (1999). Symbols of Hope: Monuments as symbols of remembrance and peace in the process of reconciliation. Research report written for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, October.


Lazarus Kgalema

Research report written for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, October 1999.

Lazarus Kgalema is a former Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.


Some of the communities in South Africa's townships have engaged in projects aimed at commemorating those who died during political violence in the past. As a result a number of community based monuments were set up. These were not only restrospective entreprises in terms of honouring the dead, but served as peace pursuing guide posts in the process of reconciliation. This report evaluates the significance of these monuments as symbols of reconciliation among communities characterised by a history of conflict. It examines how these symbols contributed to peace processes whilst serving as a source of remembrance of the past for future generations. Specific issues that are explored include: Victims and community leaders understanding of the meaning of a monuments? The contrasting processes used to erect monuments? The images of the past portrayed by these monument? The report uses several case studies of communities which have built monuments, in Thokoza, Katlehong, Tembisa, Wilgespruit, Vaal, Kagiso and Mamelodi. After reviewing these projects, the report discusses the various lessons that can be learned from these experiences.


This report relies mainly on information from interviews conducted with stake holders and community leaders involved in constructing monuments. Fifteen interviews were conducted between October 1998 and May 1999.

The leaders interviewed during the research were leaders of local political parties who participated in the committees of the monuments, and non-political community leaders who also took part in the processes. Members of local government were also interviewed to survey how they contributed in the projects.

Due to resource constraints, the research focused on urban townships in the Gauteng Province. Despite not being national the variations within these townships alone provided for a range of case studies of different types of monuments and different community contexts.

The Thokoza monument was evaluated in greater depth than the other projects, as it was unique in its scope, the level of community participation and it encapsulated key dynamics.

Other written sources like newspaper articles and books were used to facilitate the study.

It is important to mention that in terms of the Thokoza monument this report will expand and complement a research undertaken by Maria Saino.

The Thokoza Monument Project 1

The 1994 general elections ushered in relative stability in Thokoza. Following the destruction caused by the widespread community violence between 1990 and 1994 which left about 800 people dead and about 600 families displaced and their homes ruined,2 the Presidential Improvement Fund set aside funds particularly for development initiatives in Thokoza and the neighbouring townships. It was only after a period of seven years, and due to peace initiatives that displaced victims started to return to their homes.

Destroyed houses were rebuilt, services in the community were upgraded, and the members of Self Defence Units (SDUs) and Self Protection Units (SPUs) were integrated into South African Police Service (SAPS). These efforts contributed to a huge improvement on relations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Certain issues however remain sensitive, such as area like Khumalo street which is still regarded as a no- go zone for some groups.

The Conception of the Thokoza Monument

In order to sustain the relative peace that was achieved in Thokoza after the general elections the idea of a monument began to develop. The authors of the monument believed that it would be an appropriate step to remember the area's victims of political violence. They felt that Khumalo Street (a battleground during the violence and still a no- go area) was an appropriate site for such a monument as it would mark the end of the so called no-go areas and the community's commitment to genuine reconciliation.

While they all agreed that the monument is a community project, there still seems to be some disagreements as to who first conceptualised the idea. Several groups claim credit for the initiative, including the ANC Thokoza branch in collaboration with the SDUs, both SDUs and SPUs, and the Phenduka Displacees Committee and, in particular, its coordinator John Khumalo.

The ANC Thokoza branch claims that after the violence of pre-general elections sometime during the late 1994 and early 1995, when the peace initiatives began to bear fruits, it started talks about a monument with its defence wing SDUs. The ANC Thokoza representative in Thokoza Monument Foundation (TMF) Tebogo Nchike felt strongly that the ANC was the first group who thought about doing something for the victims of violence. After some deliberations with the SDUs the idea of a tombstone to be erected in the grave-yard emerged. It was only after a misunderstanding started among the SDUs members that the project was shelved.

Contrary to this, Nomsa Maseko (Mayor of Greater Alberton) argued that although the project was community driven, initially it was started by the two structures of SDUs and SPUs. Although she could not remember a specific date, the Mayor recalls that the two structures came together at the Civic offices to request a site to locate a memorial symbol long before anybody spoke about a project of this kind in the area. The Mayor claims that the councillors, were willing to grant the site to the structures, but were forced to withhold the offer due to disagreements between the two units. Though Maseko could not state the type of the disagreements which plagued the two units, she mentions that "the Council ordered them back to drawing boards to go and resolve their problems and come back when they are smoking a peace pipe."3

Sam Theron (Chairperson of the Phenduka Displacees Committee) outlines another version. According to Theron it was John Khumalo (co-ordinator of the TPDC) who came up with the idea of building a tombstone on the soccer-ground between the sections of Tambo and Slovo where most of the fighting had taken place.4 The proposal was widely supported in the Committee because it was felt that it would not only symbolise the past, but also serve as a peace icon for future generations to deter them from committing similar mistakes. The TPDC started inviting the members of the press and the community to sell the idea which today has resulted in a structure that is located in Khumalo street. This conception led to Khumalo being hailed as the "Father of the (Thokoza) Monument" in the Displacees constituency.5

The Thokoza Monument Foundation

Although the SDUs and SPUs, ANC Thokoza and the Phenduka Displacees Committee had at some period thought about the idea of a monument, none of these structures individually hosted the project. Each of them was represented in a structure: the Thokoza Monument Foundation that was created specifically to ensure that the monument is built in Thokoza. According to Saino it was Margaret Mojapelo6 who first met with the Thokoza Education Forum to sell the idea of the monument and recruit the Thokoza youth to become actively involved. From that meeting, two of the youth met with Mojapelo to volunteer their services. Due to a lack of official staff for the Monument Foundation, these two individuals, Raymond Ngcabhayi and Nomsa Skhosana provided administrative and logistical support to the project.

A public meeting was organised for the 16 May 1998 to inform area organisations about the project and solicit their commitment. At the meeting, over 28 organisations, including IFP, ANC, SAPS, South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), Alberton Town Council, youth, religious and cultural organisations committed themselves to the project. At this meeting, a structure known as the Thokoza Monument Foundation (TMF) was formed with Margaret Mojapelo as the director. Other members of the Foundation were John Khumalo from TPDC as the deputy Director, Tebogo Nchike for ANC Thokoza branch as secretary, and representing the IFP Thokoza branch was Wilson Ntshangase as the treasurer. The structure was charged with the responsibility to organise activities for the launch of the monument project on 16 June 1998 and the various activities relating to the development of the monument.

Given the nature of the violence, it was important to have on board the ANC and the IFP to ensure the success of the monument. While it was important to bring these political parties in to the process, the project itself started as, and aimed to be, a community initiative, and not a political one. Nchike the ANC representative on the Monument Committee emphasised that "the monument neither belongs to the ANC nor the IFP, it is a community venture and it must be treated as such by all".7 In the same vein the IFP's Ntshangase agreed that the community of Thokoza owns the project and not any party. Ntshangase explained the involvement of the two parties in terms of having been the main opponents in the violence. He justified their highly visible role relative to other role players on that basis.8

According to Theron a strong delegation from the TMF comprising of Louis Sibeko (ANC Thokoza Chairperson), Mojapelo, Khumalo and himself visited the municipal offices in Alberton on 6 April 1998 to ask for a site on which to build the monument.9 In support of this request, the National Monument Council wrote a letter to the Alberton Council to express their support and cooperation with the project. A month later the Council told the TMF that the departments of Urban Planning and Community Services had identified three possible sites. The first site was located on Khumalo street between the stadium and the youth centre. The second site, also in Khumalo street was situated next to the taxi rank. A third possibility was a site next to the cemetery.

The TMF chose the site between the stadium and youth centre because that is where many believe much of the fighting took place.

The Alberton council has landscaped the site between the stadium and the youth centre as it was the one chosen by the TMF.10 The Council also undertook to take charge of the maintenance of the project in future. This was made on the understanding that the TMF was a temporary structure that would be dissolved after the completion of the monument. However it was not long before difficulties arose. These started when the TMF approached the Council to fulfil its promise of transforming the land from a dumping ground to rich soil conducive for a garden. The departments of community services, parks and town engineers responded that they had not received any instructions about the work. In addition, the departments required the TMF to pay for water needed for the garden planning, inspite of the fact that it was the Council land.11 The Council complained about insufficient funds. In line with these problems, the project director loaned some of her personal funds and rented machinery for levelling the ground. Furthermore the director liaised with the National Monument Council (NMC) to put pressure on the Alberton Council to honour its commitments to the monument. The Gauteng Provincial Government and the Department of Arts and Culture also offered some financial assistance. The TDPC also contributed R1600, R800 of which was paid to the Council for the installation of a water tap at the site.12 The remainder was taken into the treasury of the TMF. It was also resolved that in the future, the Council department of parks will be annually allocated finances for the maintenance of the monument.

The Roll of Honour

The TMF and the rest of the community decided that the monument needed to include the names of all those who died and disappeared in the conflict. They decided on a two-fold process of gathering the information for the roll of honour. They asked the NMC which responded by committing itself to generating a list of victims from Thokoza from its national Victims of Conflict database. The other method involved the TMF establishing community level groups to gather the remaining names and details to complete the roll of honour.

a) The National Monument Council's Role As part of its mandate on a national Victims of Conflict database, the NMC had already developed a database and a questionnaire to gather details of those who died and disappeared. The following categories contained in the questionnaire and the database: surname, name, affiliation, date of death, place of death, burial place, age at death, cause of death and details of deponent.13 A volunteer and a part time researcher gathered this information by communicating with the existing non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the archives of former NGOs to find lists of names of those who died during political violence. The questionnaires were distributed to NGOs' field workers who have direct contact with victims groups. The TMF and NMC also approached the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as an obvious source about the victims of the past human rights abuses, to request for a list of names of the deceased and those who disappeared from Thokoza. However due to issues of confidentiality and legal limitations, the TRC could not release the information meant for the final report prior to its (TRC final report) official publication. In the final analysis, the research by the NMC provided 251 names of victims from Thokoza: Peace Action contributed 21, Human Rights Committee (HRC) 26, Independent Board Of Inquiry (IBI) 10, Media 25, IFP database at Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) 28, Wits University archives 13 and Khulumani 120.14 Other names were collected from community members.

However, the research for the victims' names also experienced difficulties. The NMC experienced problems such as records failing to indicate where the person died or their hometown, particularly in cases of death reported from neighbouring countries. It was difficult to link victims to Thokoza. Other records, including those from victim support groups, lacked critical information such as name the victim and place of death, and only indicated for example that a person had been shot. Statistics from Human Rights Committee (HRC) indicated that between 1990- 1994, at least 634 people died in Thokoza and Katlehong.

b) The Thokoza Monument Foundation's Role The TMF resolved to involve both political and community organisation to help in the process of gathering names from their constituencies. After the launch on 16 June 1998 , organisations such as the ANC, IFP, SAPS, and SANCO agreed to distribute forms to their constituents. Forms were also obtainable at Mojapelo's surgery.

Not only the names of those who died between the intense period of political violence of 1990- 1994 were included in the roll of honour, but also those who died before this time were listed, provided their death resulted from political violence. This decision was in line with the TMF's objective of the monument to remember all those who died in the political violence in order not to repeat the past. However more recent deaths were not to be included, since the TMF acknowledged that the conflict of the past had been addressed. Ultimately the TMF did well in collecting 667 names.

Fund Raising

After reading in the media about the idea of the monument, donors started developing an interest to invest in the project. As mentioned earlier on, the TPDC donated the first R1600, which was contributed by their members towards the project. The Alberton Town Council provided the land for the monument, and the landscaping and the future maintenance of the site. Also the South African Breweries-Alrode financed the fencing for the monument site as well as banners for the monument launch and the sign board at the site. A local architect contributed by drawing the plans for the monument. The NMC provided finances toward the cost to inscribe the monument with the names of those who died and disappeared. The project director donated R57100 to facilitate the administration of the project.15

Unveiling the Monument

Initially the TMF targeted the 16 June 1998 to be the unveiling date. When the process took longer than expected, this day was rather used to publicly launch the monument. The launch was held in the Thokoza Auditorium and a parade started there and proceeded to the memorial site. The launch also included the unveiling of the placard at the monument site, and several speeches by the Mayor, the director and donors. During the launch, a date for unveiling was set for heritage Day, 14 September 1998.

The Committee felt that the leaders of both ANC and IFP at the time: President Mandela and Home Affairs Minister Buthelezi respectively should be part of the unveiling ceremony. As invitations were released only in August, due to internal disagreements about the chairing of the proceedings, the two leaders were already booked for other commitments on that date. As it was deemed important for the two leaders to attend, the Committee postponed the unveiling set for the 24 September to17October1998. This time the delay came from both the TPDC and the IFP. The TPDC wanted Khumalo to be given a slot in the programme as the deputy-director. To their surprise, they found Khumalo's name missing from the programme and they felt sidelined by certain people on the committee. Their protest was also supported by the IFP regional and local branches because there was confusion about the availability of Minister Buthelezi. Ntshangase stated "we suspected that Buthelezi won't come as they were not notified in writing from the IFP Presidential office stating such arrangements, but only allegations that a letter confirming his coming was dispatched to Mbeki's office."16 In that context the IFP and the TPDC argued for postponement of the unveiling to allow time to resolve the concerned problems.

Controversies and Suspension of TMF by the Alberton Council and Gauteng government

All the members of the TMF claimed to be selfless and committed to work in a project dedicated to the entire community and not to any particular sector. Controversy started with the process of drafting the programme for the unveiling ceremony. The people in the Committee developed competition amongst one another about who was to take credit for the project. However the programme was not only the area of conflict. The first unveiling date for 24 September had to be postponed because of the invitations were released only a month before. The second proposed date for the unveiling was cancelled because Khumalo could not speak on behalf of the community as the "father of the monument."17 In addition, the IFP wanted only Buthelezi as a speaker to be on the programme. While the ANC were only prepared to accept former President Mandela or his Deputy-President Mbeki as a replacement at the time.

If the project belonged to the community as all had claimed, it is hard to understand why the process was held at ransom by the absence of political leaders. This impacted directly on the community. Until the unveiling took place the community could not visit the monument to lay flowers in honour of their dead. Yet, the ANC and IFP of Thokoza provided no convincing reason why they would not settle for the regional leaders to speak in the unveiling ceremony. It was not the TMF's wish to have the monument taking so long to be opened for the community. But to make the process all inclusive the Committee felt it had to satisfy the interests of the constituencies of local branches of the political parties by having their leaders present at the unveiling.

After the failure to use October 1998 as the unveiling date, the project's director quietly withdrew from the activities of the monument. In her own words "I retreated at the right time."18 This followed the accusations levelled against Mojapelo by the other fellow Committee members who suggested that she wanted to use the monument for her own ambitions.19 The TPDC also raised concerns about the Thokoza Monument Seminar hosted by the CSVR in which only Mojapelo was afforded a chance to speak. They blamed Mojapelo for having withheld the invitation from them. She was also blamed for not revealing the financial transactions which were involved in the process of erecting the monument. She told them that the donors were paying directly to the service and material providers. This caused other structures like the TPDC and IFP to develop suspicions around misappropriation. The IFP representative Ntshangase: "since I was elected the treasurer of the TMF, I feel the director marginalised me because I was never shown nor signed anything to do with donations in a monetary or any other form."20 All these accusations left Mojapelo, whom many were hailing as the one who championed the process of the Thokoza Monument, angry and frustrated.21 Due to the controversies surrounding the TMF, the Alberton Council and the Gauteng Government moved in and suspended the Committee from further active participation in the monument activities.

Thokoza Monument Council (TMC)

An interim structure called Thokoza Monument Council was formed by the Alberton Council and Gauteng Government to operate in the vacuum left by the TMF. The members were:

1) Mr. Benard Nikani (Councillor and Convenor of the TMC)
2) Mr. Eddie Maloka (Premier Office representative)
3) Mr. Gustav Tselapedi ( Dept Arts and Culture (Gauteng) representative)
4) Ms Primila Hamid (PRO Alberton Council)
5) Mr. Tebogo Nchike (ANC Thokoza representative)
6) Mr. Wilson Ntshangase (IFP Thokoza representative)
7) Mr. John Khumalo (Displacees representative)

This committee was given the task to ensure that the monument was unveiled before the second general elections of 2 June 1999. The responsibility to invite the leaders of ANC and IFP to the unveiling was however, given to the office of the Premier.

Unveiling Ceremony

On the 16 October 1999 Thabo Mbeki, the President of ANC and the Republic of South Africa and Mangosuthu Buthelezi the President of IFP and the Minister of Home Affairs, came to Thokoza to unveil the Thokoza Memorial. The ceremony attracted many people including victims from as far as Kwa Zulu- Natal. The mood of the day was characterised by reconciliation. The two leaders started the proceedings by officially opening Khumalo street which has been a no- go area since the political violence began. In the memorial, Mbeki and Buthelezi unveiled the curtains on the monument revealing the names of the dead victims on the granite stone. This triggered the emotions of the relatives of the victims who broke into tears and wailed. This moment was psychologically important to the victims because their traumas were remembered and re- experienced in a safe environment. In addressing the audience, the two leaders urged their supporters to see themselves as one people rather than enemies. President Mbeki told the people that "happily, we have refocused our attention on the fact that as members of Inkatha and ANC we come from the same constituency. We are products of the same conditions, we are shaped by one history and one tradition. The freedom that we enjoy today … belongs to all of us."22 The President's message was reconciliatory in the sense that he wanted the people to change their perspectives on each other. He wanted them to see themselves and others as equals. In the same tone, Minister Buthelezi stated that, "we must commit ourselves to setting our past behind us and engaging together in a massive effort of reconstruction and development. We must change the hearts and minds of the people of Thokoza, and the minds of our people in general, for peace to triumph."23 The Minister's speech was encouraging the people of Thokoza to work together towards and sustain peace. The speeches were followed by music and cultural activities.

Maintaining the Monument

In the beginning the understanding was that the unveiling of the monument in Thokoza will mark the completion of the TMF's work and its official disbandment. The TMF did anticipate that some individuals would still come forward with more names to add to the monument after the unveiling. Thus, they left a space on the monument for further inscription of the names. As the TMC would cease to exist after the unveiling of the monument the National Monument Council agreed to assist with these additions and the maintenance of the monument over time. The local town Council committed itself to the future upkeep of the garden.

Another key debate was whether or not to charge a nominal fee from the tourists who wished to visit the monument in the future. The TMF and the local council were reluctant to make people pay upon visiting the monument after the controversy that erupted in Soweto over the money charged at the Hector Petersen Memorial.24 In the Soweto dispute, Hector's mother accused keepers of the memorial and politicians of enriching themselves through using the name of her son. She wanted them to at least give her a share from the money gathered.25 In order to avoid a similar dispute with the relatives of the victims in Thokoza, a decision was made that the local council should allocate a budget for the upkeep of the site from local rates. The Mayor however, felt this was a temporary arrangement until a proper mechanism for charging visitors at the gate for maintenance expenses was developed. Otherwise the expenses of maintaining the monument would continually affect increase of rates which could easily be avoided by entrance fee charge.26

Naming of the Monument

After the process of the monument had started the community became preoccupied with a name for the monument. Many wanted to name the monument after their heroes in honour of their contribution. This view was especially dominant in the non-IFP areas, where a suggestion was made that the monument should be named after the ANC local hero Sam Ntuli. The TPDC corroborated the speculation made by Saino in her report that the name-question came from the fact that the only other memorial known to the people of Thokoza was the Hector Petersen Memorial in Soweto. For political reasons the IFP was not going to accept this name. Anticipating the rejection, the TMF decided that the monument would remain the Thokoza Memorial in memory of all those who died as a result of political conflict.

Katlehong Monument

Ending of Violence in Katlehong

Katlehong, separated from Thokoza by Khumalo street, experienced similar violence to its neighbour. In the early 1990s SPUs from hostels were involved in an intense fight with SDUs which were formed to protect township residents. This resulted in a high number of fatalities. The mayor of Greater Germiston, Caiphus Sambo, stated that leaders of the involved parties had started peace talks in 1993.27 The leaders started by talking with their supporters to end the so called no-go areas, notably the boundary street between Radebe and Mokadi sections which separated the township and the hostels. The Mayor recalls that the area was so volatile that if a person was seen walking there, would be killed by either party. The leaders worked hard to bring the opposing groups together. By July 1993 there were indications that violence was abating as casuality reports were declining dramatically. However, fears of renewed fighting surfaced towards December. Violence usually intensified when factories and schools were closed for the holidays. In December 1993 there was no violence at all.

The Conception of the Monument

After the 1994 elections there was relative peace in the area and the need to sustain the fragile stability emerged. The leaders of both the ANC and IFP started to visit the so called no-go areas together to symbolise the end of such no- go zones. They asked the communities what they felt could be done to maintain peace. Through these discussions the leaders came up with the idea of placing a memorial stone to honour all who had died from the political conflict. The community also wanted the names of all the victims to be inscribed on the stone. The leaders took the idea to the local town council which agreed to build the monument.

Unlike the Thokoza Monument, the idea of a monument in Katlehong was initiated by the leaders of the two dominant political parties: the ANC and the IFP. The leaders of these organisations wanted a symbol of peace in their constituencies. They thought that a sign showing that the dead could not be raised, but could be remembered would satisfy the relatives of the dead. In mayor Sambo's words the memorial would "serve to unite people who have been divided in the past."28 He suggested that people could come to visit the memorial stone to mourn for their dead, not as people belonging to political parties such as ANC or IFP, but as people sharing loss.

Unveiling of the Monument

Since fundraising for a monument takes time, the leaders and the local Council of Greater Germiston thought that in the meantime an interim structure should be set up. This led the Council to build a 2 metre high wall with a plaque on it from its coffers. The message on the plaque was a call to remember all who had died from the political carnage which swept the area.

The unveiling of the memorial stone coincided with the celebration of Human Rights Day (21 March 1998). At the event the IFP supporters clad in their colours, chanted slogans with ANC supporters. It hosted high-profile political guests such as Gauteng Premier Mathole Motshega, Gauteng MEC for Housing Dan Mofokeng and Prince Zulu of the IFP. The ANC was represented by its Deputy-President Jacob Zuma, while the MP Ben Nkosi stood in for Minister Buthelezi of the IFP. The unveiling ceremony, conducted by the Honourable Mayor Sambo of Greater Germiston, was received with much applause from the audience. The leaders pledged messages of peaceful co- existence and political tolerance in the run up to 1999 general elections. Simunye community news paper captured ANC Deputy-President Jacob Zuma telling the audience that the people of KwaZulu-Natal should learn from the situation in Kathorus, where people were openly wearing T- shirts of their own political organisations without fear of being intimidated. He said: "we as the ANC say let's be together, Mzulu, Mxhosa, Msotho and Mlungu (whites), and respect one another's rights and opinions."29 The IFP speaker MP Ben Nkosi commended South Africa for being one of countries with the best constitutions in the world, which deserved to be matched by corresponding reconciliation and tolerance.30

Though the event was meant to end the political violence some of the key role players were not invited to the unveiling ceremony. One induna claimed that the indunas, the leaders of the Kesini, Buyafuthi and Mazibuko hostels, did not attend the ceremony because they were not invited. The induna of Buyafuthi hostel, only identified as Zwane, maintained that they were independent from the IFP, and therefore deserve an invitation in their own right.31 Zwane himself puts it: "many people confuse the hostel dwellers with the IFP, the indunas are apolitical and represent a Zulu cultural leadership".32 He also clarified that not all Zulus are IFP members. The Mayor said the invitation was sent to the hostel indunas and the problem could have been with their hierarchy. The mayor Sambo contends that the letter of invitation might have landed in the hands of the junior indunas, something which the seniors would have resented. That might have led to the indunas to boycotting the event.33 Nevertheless the Mayor noted the problem for future corrections and promised he was working on a process to include all when the formal monument would be built.

The Memorial still to be built in Katlehong

The present structure in Katlehong was a temporary measure to maintain peace, and plans are in line for a formal structure. The structure that will be built in Katlehong to commemorate those who died from political violence is perhaps bigger than the one in Thokoza. The Mayor of the area estimated the budget of the project at 2,5 million rands. The authors of the project hope to inscribe the names of all the victims who died. Mayor Sambo states that due to the urgency of the project they had to build a temporary memorial stone but preparations were in line for a proper memorial stone.34 They are now involved in fund raising from both government and private sector and collecting names of the victims. Though the Mayor wanted something unique for Katlehong, he admitted that they will learn from the Thokoza Monument and improve on it.

Tembisa Monument

Type of Conflict

In the 1990s Tembisa, like other East Rand townships, experienced inter-community violence as between the different communities. The situation in Tembisa was not as bad as Thokoza and Katlehong. Godfrey Mhlanga, communications officer of the Kyalami Metropolitan Council, stated that there were particular shocking incidents which claimed many lives. People were shot on their way to and from work by unknown gunmen.35 He vividly recalled an incident in October 1992 when unknown assailants opened fire at commuters coming from work and set mini- bus taxis alight. This resulted in at least 37 deaths. The police have still not resolved the case. Political violence also took place between hostel dwellers, who were perceived to be IFP members, and the community dominated by the ANC.

The Monument

After the 1994 elections, when sporadic acts of violence were few and the TRC was established, an idea of a monument to honour the victims was mooted by the local ANC Youth League. The idea was discussed within the ANC and with its allies, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Other political organisations and civic structures such as SANCO were drawn into the picture later. A monument committee was formed with two representatives from Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), IFP, SANCO, the ANC- SACP-COSATU alliance and local taxi associations respectively. The responsibilities of the committee included fundraising and building of the structure. The committee was formed to make decisions on the type of structure to be built and recommend future improvements around the memorial.

Without delay, the Committee solicited financial resources from local business such as taxi associations and shop owners that amounted to sixteen thousand rands. They then approached the local Council for land. The Council granted space on land ear- marked for a park in the middle of Tembisa near the main road to Kempton Park and Johannesburg.This was the place suggested by the Monument Committee because of its strategic position in terms of public view. The committee further motivated that as part of the park, the Council could easily extend its maintainance services to the monument.

The Committee recommended a huge wall with the names of the victims inscribed on it. However, due to limited resources, only a 2-metre high wall was built. The names of the victims were not included as was first hoped. Only a general message of acknowledgement to the dead was engraved on the plaque. It reads as follows:

This stone is laid in memory
of our heroes and heroines
who fought for freedom
against apartheid state.
(T)heir memories live on.

This monument was unveiled on 16 June 1998 by the Gauteng premier Mathole Motshega.This date was chosen to deliberately coincide with Youth Day holiday activities in order to popularise the monument amongst young people and help them guard against making similar mistakes in the future. The Committee hopes to hold anniversaries each year around the structure to remind generations about the past tragedy. Makoto, the chair of the Monument Committee, revealed that other phases of the memorial are in the planning stage. The phases would comprise of two walls with the victims'names inscribed on them to be built adjacent to the current structure and a house which will serve as museum to house the history of the struggle for political emancipation.36 He envisaged that community members would be encouraged through the local media to bring photos, drawings, messages, and any other articles which may be related to the victims of the violence and the history of the community and the country to preserve for the coming generations.37

Kagiso Monument

Type of Political Violence

Kagiso is a small township near Krugersdorp in the West Rand. The ANC was the dominant political organisation in the area. Some individuals belonged to the PAC, but were not organised in a coherent structure. The IFP did not exist at all in the area. The political violence in Kagiso took the form of state agents versus residents. Apartheid police and the army killed political activists in late 1980s until 1993. The community was engaged in a boycott against white business. The police targeted and killed some of the activists believing that they were the ones behind the crisis.

Conception of a Monument

In 1993 when the general election was looming, the Kagiso community felt that something had to be done for all those who died at the hands of apartheid regime. They wanted to honour them and celebrate the victory of the struggle. Many organisations were involved with the project, but the ANC took the lead as it was the dominant organisation. All the participants favoured the idea of a memorial stone with the names of the dead activists inscribed on it.

The Site and the Process of building the monument

The first decision was where to place the monument. Some people suggested a site near the graveyard, while many preferred the site in front of the police station, municipal offices and the library to mark the victory of the struggle. This was significant to the community as these institutions were seen as symbols of apartheid. The community thought that it was important to erect their symbol of struggle next to these symbols to demonstrate their power over the apartheid order.

The ANC branch called a meeting of organisations (including business) to discuss fundraising strategies. The business community contributed some funds and the community solicited donations on the streets. After a limited sum of money was raised, a small wall was built and the names of activists were inscribed on it. When reviewing the process, Maswabi puts it pithily: "no matter how small the monument was, in the minds of the community it was a gigantic structure towering above the three apartheid buildings surrounded it".38

Unveiling of the Monument

The unveiling ceremony commenced with the community converging in the library gardens early in the morning to listen to the political leaders delivering speeches. The ANC was represented by the Youth League president Peter Mokaba. Other organisations that took part in the event included Azanian Peoples Organisation (AZAPO), PAC, Democratic Party (DP) and the National Party (NP). Maswabi from the ANC Youth League described the process not only as a victory against the police, but also as a strategy seeking unity and creating peace with them.39 After the unveiling, the area became very symbolic as most of the community discussions occurred there. For instance, in 1993 after the massacre of Swanneville (informal settlement next to Kagiso), the community gathered at the site to pray and observe a memorial service.

A Second Monument near the Grave-Yard

Another memorial structure was erected near the graveyard by the local organised business community. It was a bigger tombstone which included the names of many people who died in the hands of the apartheid agents. Unlike the one in the library gardens with the names only of the well- known activists, this memorial included the names of all known victims.

Vaal Monument

Violence in the Vaal

Violence has taken place in the Vaal townships since the Sharperville Massacre on 21 March 1960 where 63 people were killed while protesting the Pass laws. This event is an important event in South Africa's history and is still commemorated as Human Rights Day. In the 1990s more massacres took place. In Sebokeng in 1992 unknown killers opened fire and killed more than 47 mourners at the night vigil of the funeral of a fellow comrade. This incident came to be known as the Nangalembe Night Vigil massacre named after the place where it had occurred. On the 17 June 1992 over 100 people were massacred while asleep in their homes during a raid in Boipatong by IFP hostel dwellers.


In 1996 when President Mandela announced that he would sign a new democratic constitution in the area, the Sebokeng community decided to build a monument in honour of the victims of the Nangalembe Night Vigil massacre. The community contributed funds and built a small tombstone inscribed with the names of 47 known victims inscribed on it. The monument was built in Zone 7 where the massacre took place.

Another memorial stone was planned by residents of Boipatong to commemorate the Boipatong massacre. As in Sebokeng the community itself raised funds for the monument. Despite unhappiness with this site from community members, the councillors chose to erect it next to the stadium for public view during community gatherings. The community in Boipatong also wanted to include the names of the victims on the monument once it was finished. In 1999 the project came to a halt amidst controversies and the misappropriation of funds.

The Unveiling

The monument of Nangalembe Night Vigil massacre was unveiled by President Mandela on 21 March 1996. Duma Khumalo (national field worker of Khulumani Support Group) recalls that the President praised and thanked the community for their selfless efforts and the respect they demonstrated to the people who laid down their lives for the freedom all South Africans now enjoy.40 President Mandela told the audience that the monument would serve to remind future generations about the struggle of the people against apartheid.41

Mamelodi Monument

History of Conflict

Mamelodi is one of the black townships near Pretoria. The township was dominated by largely the liberation movements with the ANC most prominent. The IFP, which appeared to have been the political arch-opponent to the ANC in the East Rand townships, was largely unknown in the area in 1980s.

Generally the situation was characterised by disappearances of political activists. Though the liberation movements espoused different approaches to freedom, they had a common vision to achieve their liberation by defeating the apartheid regime. Thus there were no reports of internal violence in the community, the type of violence which took place in Mamelodi was largely between the apartheid agents and political activists. Rudy Mphela who works as a field worker in Mamelodi for the Khulumani Victim Support Group, recalls two infamous incidents where nine and ten youths disappeared in 1986 and 1987 respectively.42 The first incident occurred in the former homeland of Kwa-Ndebele in 1986 where nine youth who were activists in Mamelodi disappeared. Another ten young activists disappeared in 1987 after being recruited to join the ANC liberation army Umkhonto we Sizwe by an askari of the apartheid forces Joe Mamasela.43 It is believed that these ten young men were killed in the area called Nietverdiend near the boarder of Botswana. Hence they became known as the Nietverdiend Ten. The TRC Investigations have found that all the bodies of these nineteen youths might have been fed to the crocodiles of the Komati river in the Komatipoort border of Mozambique.44 Another Mamelodi prominent activist, Stanza Bopape who actively participated in activities of the local civic structure also disappeared and probably suffered the same fate as others according to the TRC findings.45 Not all activists disappeared. Others were found in the streets killed by the apartheid forces before the 1994 elections. Another very popular Mamelodi young activist, Solomon Mahlangu, died on the apartheid gallows in 1979 after a death sentence was passed against him for political activities. All in all, according to the data collected by Mphela at least 50 people died in the conflict against the apartheid forces.

The Monument in Mamelodi

To the surprise of the people of Mamelodi and the frustration of the families of the victims, the ANC and the Civic organisation singled out Stanza Bopape and built a memorial stone for him. The memorial was built to be like the Hector Petersen monument in Soweto which is supposed to represent all those who died in the 1976 Soweto student rebellion. In this case the ANC and the Civic believed that the Stanza Bopape memorial represents the Mamelodi struggle against apartheid. This Stanza Bopape memorial was unveiled by the Gauteng Premier Mathole Motshega in 1998. The families of the dead activists did not appreciate the exclusion of their children in the memorial.

Another form of a memorial which became a consolation to the families of the victims was created in 1998. It took the form of a board with all the names of the 50 victims written on it. Mphela stated that this memorial was the work of an artist from Holland who visited Mamelodi in January 1998.46 The artist was interested in gathering the names of the victims of apartheid. After collecting the names from Mphela, he painted them in a white colour on a beautifully laid out black board with a green lining. On the top of the board was the following message:

Painting to memorate
These Mamelodi people
Who died in the struggle.

Under this message there were 50 names of all the victims painted. See appendix 2.

This board was placed on a stand near the gate of the local hospital for public view upon visiting the hospital. Unfortunately the board did not last for many months before being vandalised. The motive of the vandalism is not known. This act resulted in an emotional breakdown of the victims' families who had thought that at last the price paid by their children during the struggle was acknowledged through the board. To the families, the destruction of the board seemed like someone was scrapping the role played in the struggle by their loved ones. It was difficult for these survivors to engage in the process of reconciliation while feeling humiliated by the monument built for Bopape and the vandalism of the board of memory. These incidents are a constant reminder to the victims of their powerlessness.

Wilgespruit Monument

History of Wilgespruit

In 1948 an inter-racial group of church members purchased land of about 88 acres to establish the Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre. The Centre was involved in the struggle against apartheid by providing political activists, underprivileged people and refugees with a home and haven of safety from security forces. To illustrate the Centre's involvement, Dale White, the Centre's retired director, argues that in 1962 after the conference facility was established on the property, Dr. Verwoerd's apartheid regime tried to prevent blacks from attending conferences in the Centre.47 The churches involved met the government's attempt with firm resistance and the government conceded by allowing blacks to stay at the facilities for 72 hours, renewable upon expiry. After 72 hours the Centre staff had to travel for 8 kilometres to Krugersdorp to renew the permit for blacks in the Centre to restart another term of 72 hours. The routine had to be repeated until the conference was over. Since the emergence of the new South Africa some creative projects have been initiated at the Centre aimed at improving the quality of life of South Africa's people.

The Concept of a Peace Memorial

After 1994, when it was clear that apartheid government was defeated, the Centre reviewed its anti- apartheid mission: It decided to focus on peace building. In 1996 the Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre launched a Peace Park which would include the South African Nobel Laureates Memorial Peace Park and Peace Academy. The patrons of the Peace park were the heirs of Chief Albert Luthuli, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the former Presidents, Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk. All were recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1960, 1984 and 1993 respectively. According to White the memorial was intended to raise the ethical spirit fundamental to generating a vital and humane society, and to bolster the maintenance of peace amongst the South African people and all the world's citizens.48 The Peace Park had six components:

a) Peace Academy
The Peace Academy was to be an active memorial. It would reach out to the nation and the whole world by propagating dynamic peace lessons. The Academy would, through its diverse projects, disseminate the learning and practice of behaviours essential to equip present and future communities with skills for life on the peace track. Its target group would include: students from schools and universities, community workers, politicians, civil servants, professional and business people, ordinary citizens, victims and perpetrators of violence, and tourists and visitors. Through the Academy the Centre hoped to build on the best achievements of the past and nourish the complex fabric which nurtures a spirit of tolerance, conflict resolution, restoring relationships and generation of prosperity so as to sustain lasting peace.

b) Museum and Auditorium
The museum would provide space for interaction and exploration of relationships between indigenous people and first colonists, their successors and descendants, and the apartheid regime. The museum would provide both healing and stimulation to visitors who commit themselves to practising and sustaining peace.

c) S.A. Nobel Laureates' Memorial Courtyard
This courtyard would house the busts of the four S.A. Nobel Laureates who strove for the vision of overcoming oppression and achieving liberation through peaceful means.

d) Landscsped Valley and Stream
The beautiful landscape of Wilgespruit in which the Peace Park resides would be developed through the restoration of the indigenous ecology and the creation of reflective walks and trails. The stream would be restored and will become a natural spine along which a range of passive and active events could occur.

e) Wall of Achievement

Details and stories of South African communities during apartheid era will be contained on this wall. This would connect the memorial courtyard to the site of The Spirit of Africa monument. A Memory Walk branches off paths of memory for individual, personal remembrances and stones laid to remember and honour communities and individuals.

f) "The Spirit of Africa" Monument
White states that in order to achieve sustainable peace they in the Centre were dedicated pioneers and owners of peace who would implement the vision of South African Nobel Laureates' Peace Memorial as a living National Peace Memorial. Like other authors of the other monuments in communities, White went further to say that the monument at Wilgespruit was meant to capture the history of the country, to ensure future generations become children dedicated to peace and respectful tolerance. The Centre thought of a structure of a female figure which will be a peace memorial to symbolise The Spirit of Africa. White explained that they have decided on a female angel statue to demonstrate their commitment to non- sexism because all the Nobel- laureates in the country were male. The Monument would be built on top of the hill and be called the Spirit of Africa Monument. The Monument and its surrounding symbols would become a focal point celebrating those who realistically continue the work for establishment and sustenance of peace. It would also serve to recall those social sons and daughters who pioneered the difficult way forward to form a democratic society in South Africa. The Spirit of Africa would be a link into Peace Angels International, an international project in which guns and other weapons are melted down. The metal from these weapons then used to create large peace sculptures, which are placed in cities which have known major violence, such as Jerusalem, Belfast, Los Angeles and Johannesburg.49

Lessons learned from the Monuments

This study has provided various important lessons about monuments and other forms of memorials. The lessons are categorised as follows: reconciliation, psychological healing, recognition, values, role of victims, role of ex- combatants, inherently conflictual process, role of political parties, role of business donors and the role of research organisations.


Memorials contain an element of reconciliation. Once the conflicting groups accept that it is in their best interest to lay down arms and begin talks about a possible permanent end to the conflict, automatically a process of reconciliation starts. Divided communities can strengthen the vulnerable stability and continue the process of reconciliation (e.g. Thokoza), through the establishment of a monuments. Monuments constantly remind them that violence is an unworkable strategy to solve their differences.

Memorials can also serve as a tool for building peace and relationships through the process of collaboration. The monument in Thokoza contributed to the former conflicting groups, the SDUs and the SPUs, working together to build the monument. In that participatory process a sense of unity and relationship developed as captured by Ntshangase of the IFP:

the process of the monument (in Thokoza) provided me and other people from my party to develop trust and friendship with the people we were fighting with during violence. Attending discussions with them made me to trust them you know.50

Ntshangase's words suggests that the process of having to come together with their former enemies from the ANC to share ideas during the process of building the monument provided them with a space that facilitated the development of social links.

The participatory processes of the monuments give the communities a chance to down- play their differences, socialise together and develop a sense of trust among themselves. For example, during the interview with Nchike of the ANC Thokoza branch, he unconsciously kept on referring to the IFP's Ntshangase as a comrade and colleague as both were representing their respective parties in the Monument Foundation.51

The mayor of Greater Germiston Sambo observed that once the conflicting sections of hostel inmates and the Katlehong residents noticed that both the leaders of the IFP and the ANC are working together to build the monument, they automatically began to end the no-go zones themselves by moving freely into each other's sections. The Mayor's observation confirms that once conflicting groups can end their suspicion of each other and identify a common interest and work towards it a process of reconciliation naturally unfolds. As Mojapelo summed it up in Thokoza Monument:

today many of us are proud that the monument has helped retrieve our identity as a strong community that is willing to rebuild itself and forge new bonds.52

Of course, monuments can also be a source of conflict (this is dealt with below), but if sufficient groundwork is laid and the process managed they can serve to re-establish trust and mutual co- operation.

Psychological Healing

A process of reconciliation provides a protected environment for psychological healing. An environment of trust emerging from reconciliation processes can offer a space for psychological healing to occur unhindered. Monuments could also restore the dignity of those whose loved ones and relatives have died. The survivors in families can feel emotionally compensated by the public acknowledgement that their relatives have died, by these symbols. This in the minds of the relatives might be interpreted as a form of denunciation of the violence, the evil which took away their loved ones. Thus Hamber commented:

Genuine reparations, and the process of healing, does not occur through the delivery of an object (e.g. a pension, a monument, etc), but through the process that takes place around the object.53

The processes and structures of monuments serve as a community's symbolic gesture of acknowledgement and public remorse for what happened during the conflict. This act may contribute to increase confidence in the surviving victims that they are not laughed at for the humiliation caused to them by the conflict. The safe and protected environment created by this acknowledgement will provide the victims with the space to grapple with the reality which took place, an important part of therapeutic process. Thus there is great possibility for healing to take place. As Hamber asserted:

psychological restoration and healing can only occur through providing the space for survivors of violence to feel heard and for every detail of the traumatic event to be re-experienced in a safe environment.54

In many African cultures it is a norm that people visit the graves of the dead to communicate their problems with the dead as they believe that once a person dies, s/he adopts ancestral status and possesses powers over the living. Africans also believe that if a person dies as a result of human disasters, such as conflicts and witchcraft, that person would not rest even if s/he could be buried. Her/his soul will remain wandering in the fields and can cast a spell on the living. In order to avoid this, a ceremony is conducted at the spot where s/he died and then proceeds to the home of the dead. In that way it is believed that the dead is given recognition and taken home to rest. As Mojapelo commented about the Thokoza Monument:

we simply seek to honour all the loved ones who became victims of the political violence. This monument is a commemorative process of putting their spirits to rest by bringing them home55

Through monuments communities recognise the price paid by the dead by paying tribute to them and also acknowledge the loss of the surviving relatives. The messages on the monuments can bear testimony to the recognition of the dead as can be seen in the following examples:

Thokoza Memorial: We honour their memory56
Mamelodi: Painting to memorate these Mamelodi people who died in the struggle57
Tembisa: This stone is laid in memory of our heroes and heroines … their memories live on58

The communities use monuments to develop a code of conduct for present and future generations. Emerging from a culture of intolerance the communities reconstruct their values by adopting new philosophies of how to conduct their lives in future. Monuments can be used to symbolise a commitment to the new values. The words of Mojapelo about the Thokoza monument are a good example:

through this monument, we have a simple message for ourselves, the future generations and the rest of the world: never, never, never again will we allow our community to bleed this way.59

The monuments are a symbol of new hope and new life in the communities. They serve as a break between the past and the future. They help the communities in the journey of self redefinition. They may also serve as symbols of good and bad at the same time. They remind the communities about their troubled past and comfort them with new hope for the future regarding commitment to new values.

As Mojapelo remarked:

we have redecorated our lives and now refuse to be remembered for the violence, because the initiative (monument) has breathed new life into the community.60

Mojapelo's words suggest that the community of Thokoza has undergone a rebirthing process through the monument. These words acknowledged a violent past which the Thokoza community do not want to be remembered for, but rather be known as new community which has adopted new values particularly of tolerance.

The Role of the Victims

It is important for the victims to take part in projects like monuments which are aimed directly at their interests. To marginalise them because they are poor and therefore cannot contribute resourcefully to the projects would be a major mistake which would defeat the objectives of the projects. In the Thokoza process the victims contributed funds which were used to install the tap at the site. Khumalo the coordinator of the victims explained the water supply contribution as a great act by the victims as they now have a sense of ownership of the project.61 One woman who had lost two sons in the violence of Thokoza argued that the little amount she contributed will help forge bonds between her and her dead sons.62

Processes which undermine the participation of victims are not only alienating but undermine their integrity. This can be illustrated in Mphela's argument:

the victims of Mamelodi resolved not to attend the unveiling of the Stanza Bopape memorial developed by the ANC and local Civic because they were not consulted and also felt that it was unfair to honour only one person while a lot more activists had died in the area.63

The relatives of the dead felt humiliated because the project had failed to acknowledge the price paid by their loved ones in the struggle for freedom. This makes it clear that all those who survived need to be included in the process. Inclusivity through using specific names can be more destructive than empowering or reconstructive.

The Role of the ex-combatants

Since the main objective of the monuments is to reconcile, it is important for the ex- combatants to take part in the processes as a gesture of remorse. In the violent situation of the East Rand the perpetrators were often also the victims and vice versa. The SDUs viewed the SPUs as perpetrators while the SPUs considered themselves victims of the SDUs. These two organisations' joint participation in the Thokoza monument helped them to own-up and condemn the atrocities they caused during the violence. For Ntshangase of the IFP to refer to the SDUs as colleagues shows that they had accepted their role in the monument process as a true act of apology.64 Such participation may also help reintegrate perpetrators who may have become marginalised in their communities. Obviously, however, a difficult of mediation may lie ahead especially when the victims of the ex-combatants are also included in the process. Despite this a successful monument process would include all these role players.

Inherently Conflictual Process

The monument projects in the divided communities can be a conflictual process. The conflict starts right from the conceptualising stage. For instance in Thokoza, Mojapelo mentioned that during the initial stage of the monument, the former conflicting groups, the SDUs and SPUs seemed to have a problem when the names of their victims were to be mixed on one monument.65 Mojapelo argued that others were even suggesting that at least two columns should be created in which the names of the SDUs and the SPUs should be written respectively. In similar vein, the Alberton mayor Maseko pointed out how in the beginning of 1995 her Council had to send back both the SDUs and the SPUs to go and resolve their differences before they could talk to them about the site to build a monument.66

These conflicts plague every stage of the process up to the completion of the project about who should take the credit. This was evident in Thokoza where the unveiling ceremony was postponed four times following the disagreements in the leadership about who among them should speak during that event. Theron the leader of the displacees argues that the unveiling on the 17 October 1998 could not occur because Khumalo was not afforded a slot in the programme to talk on behalf of the community.67

Clearly, therefore, monuments can be a conflictual process. Third parties (such as mediators, facilitators, etc.) may be useful people to be involved in the process. A foundation of reconciliation also needs to be in place to minimise conflict that may arise during the process.

Role of Political Parties

Political parties can play a vital role in the process of a monument. In many communities mentioned above political parties played key roles to ensure that monuments were built in the first place. For instance Maswabi stated that the ANC led other parties like AZAPO and PAC in the process of building a monument in Kagiso.68 According to Makoto in Tembisa it was the ANC which initiated the erection of the monument.69 While in Thokoza the political parties were invited into process as many of the stakeholders but ended up playing a significant role.

The danger of the involvement of the political parties is that often they are tempted to use the community projects to advance their party political interests. A good example can be seen in the Thokoza project where the unveiling was postponed on several occasions to accommodate the ANC- IFP political interests. It may be advised to initially include political parties as equal stakeholders so they can play a role, but that their power can also be balanced by other stakeholders, particularly the community members.

Role of Business Donors

The business donors assist financially in the projects. In some cases such as Thokoza, Mojapelo assisted in the building of the monument as donor and leader. She estimated her financial contribution to the value of R57 100.70 Also in other places such as Kagiso, Maswabi mentioned that the business people donated money to build another memorial stone next to the cemetery.71

The donors with their financial contribution and influence can threaten others without those facilities in the monuments. For example in Thokoza, certain sectors of the community who claim to have started the project felt that Mojapelo's influence was too great and that she was putting her self too much in the spotlight.72 Nonetheless, a key role remains for donors in providing funds. Preferably these should be local business who have an interest in sustained peace. Like with politicians they should be included as equal stakeholders to balance their power but ensure their involvement.

Role of Research Organisations

Research organisations are generally welcomed in the communities to capture history in the making. However, sometimes the good work of the research organisations could lead to disagreements in the communities. For example, after the research that was conducted by the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) on the Thokoza Monument, they hosted a public seminar to discuss the findings. That seminar led to some stakeholders complaining that the organisation was taking sides for failing to invite them to the seminar. According to Theron, the Displacees Committee only heard about that seminar from their members who visited Khulumani (a victim support organisation sharing the offices with CSVR) during the day of the seminar.73 When follow- up research was done, Theron felt that their side was also heard and therefore changed the attitude towards the CSVR. It is important for the research organisation to be very sensitive when conducting research in divided communities for not being viewed as taking sides.

However, there is a clear need for proper evaluation of the successes and failures of community reconciliation initiatives done through ethical bodies that maintain communication links within communities on their findings. Information sharing mechanisms between monument processes (i.e. what other groups have done) is vital as there seemed in this study to be little knowledge between communities of similar initiatives undertaken by other communities. This is a role for research organisations to fulfil.


Monuments as symbols of reconciliation are unique initiatives toward reconciliation in communities which are divided by violent conflict. In all the communities under review a question of remembering the victims served to bring the survivors together in confronting the events of the past. Through the monuments the communities accepted collective responsibility for what took place. Through taking collective responsibility these communities started to engage in a transformation of collective identity and building new values for dealing with conflict.

Divided communities such as Thokoza, for example, needed an appealing symbol of unity as there was no clear winner in their conflict. The symbols involved should not involve any element of victory by one side for it could simply loose its objective if this is the case. Collective ownership is significant to the process of reconciliation because both the perpetrators and victims (and local community and business people)are together in one voice and the same tone of the message to remember all those who died as heroes of the war. The monuments could also serve to undermine issues such as ethnicity or political divides by inclusive processes which are undertaken leading to the building of a monument. In this case the Thokoza participatory process served as a good example. Of course, monuments, if misused, could be used to symbolically undermine the other and entrench exclusive ethnicity.

The Thokoza Monument Foundation was a ground- breaking initiative for having involved the community in the process of gathering the names of the victims.74 Other communities such as Katlehong and Tembisa are contemplating to follow the same process of collecting names. Furthermore, the issue of listing names in Thokoza served as consolation and compensation to families whose children have disappeared and had applied as victims to the TRC, but been rejected for various reasons. For such families, seeing the name of their children on the monument can be validation of their sacrifice. Generally, the monuments could be perceived as physical symbols of a commitment to peace. In discussion about the Thokoza monument, the former violence-displaced residents of the notorious section of Phenduka said, "we don't want to move again, this monument will make peace".75 They pledge as communities to never repeat the same mistakes again.

Nonetheless, the monuments and other forms of symbolic reparations cannot alone be a sufficient condition for reconciliation. Rather they should be regarded as part of the process towards reconciliation and in some cases dependent upon a certain foundation of reconciliation already been established. Their role must never be exaggerated by those who want to escape their responsibilities to discharge other forms of reparations to help the process of reconciliation to proceed. This danger of over-emphasising the importance of symbolic reparations was evident when victims rejected proposals by the ruling party (ANC) in its tactics to avoid financial obligations as recommended by the TRC to victims. Some victims were angered by comments by the ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe that you cannot attach monetary value to suffering.76 In response the NGO sector argued, "we believe that individual reparations are critical to national reconciliation because individual suffering must be acknowledged."77 The NGO sector based their argument on the fact that individual financial grants would tangibly undo the objectives of apartheid which deprived victims decent livelihood, for example, by repairing their burned houses, receiving medical aid, or sending children to school. Reconciliation can never be reduced to collective symbols. There was another example in Thokoza, one mother who submitted the names of her two children that had been killed to the monument list, stated that, though it was important for her to remember her children through the monument, their deaths had left her without anyone to assist with paying basic expenses like rent.

Clearly, reconciliation is multifaceted. For some the rifts of the past can start to be healed through a symbolic financial contribution, and yet for others prosecutions of those guilty for violence is the only way to re-establish a sense of justice and ultimate reconciliation. What this paper does show, however, is that there is a place for monuments in this process. A careful managed and inclusive monument process, despite the conflicts that will arise, can only but move the previously conflictual parties down the road to reconciliation.


1 Ms Maria Saino a visiting researcher from USA based at the CSVR in 1998 undertook a study on the Thokoza Monument.

2 Sowetan 29 April 1997 'Tension rises in Thokoza'


3 Interview with Greater Alberton Mayor Mrs Nomsa Maseko 15 February 1999: Alberton.

4 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 21 January 1999: Thokoza

5 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 21 January 1999: Thokoza

6 Dr Margaret Mojapelo is a local medical practitioner who was elected the director of the monument foundation.

7 Interview with Mr. Tebogo Nchike 25 February 1999: Thokoza

8 Interview with Mr. Wilson Ntshangase 4 March 1999: Alrode

9 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 21 January 1999: Thokoza

10 Interview with Mr. John Wilman 12 February 1999: Alberton

11 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 21 January 1999: Thokoza

12 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 2 January 1999: Thokoza

13 Questionnare for victims of conflict created by NMC

14 Saino's Research Report 1998

15 The memorial story in perspective (unpublished report) by Dr. Margaret Mojapelo 4 November 1998

16 Interview with Mr. Wilson Ntshangase 4 march 1999: Alrode

17 City Vision 30 October 1998 "Politics prevent opening of Thokoza Monument"

18 Interview with Dr. Margaret Mojapelo 13 May 1999: Thokoza

19 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 21 January 1999: Thokoza

20 Interview with Mr. Wilson Ntshangase 4 march 1999: Alrode

21 Interview with Greater Alberton mayor Mrs Nomsa Maseko 15 February 1999: Alberton

22 Statement of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the Unveiling of the Thokoza Monument 16 October 1999

23 Address by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP President of the Inkatha Freedon Party and Minister of Home Affairs Thokoza 16 October 1999 "Peace Celebration in Honour of the Victims of Political Conflict in Thokoza"

24 Sowetan June 1997 'Victims of Soweto rebellion remembered'

25 Sowetan June 1997 'Victims of Soweto rebellion remembered'

26 Interview with Greater Alberton mayor Mrs Nomsa Maseko 15 February 1999: Alberton

27 Interview with Greater Germiston mayor Mr. Caiphus Sambo 30 November 1998: Germiston

28 Interview with Greater Germiston mayor Mr. Caiphus Sambo 30 November 1998: Germiston

29 Simunye News June/July 1998

30 Simunye News June/July 1998

31 Interview with induna Zwane 17 October 1998: Katlehong

32 Interview with induna Zwane 17 October 1998: Katlehong

33 Interview with Greater Germiston mayor Mr. Caiphus Sambo 30 November 1998: Germiston

34 Interview with Greater Germiston mayor Mr. Caiphus Sambo 30 November 1998: Germiston

35 Interview with Mr. Godfrey Mhlanga 12 April 1999: Tembisa

36 Interview with Mr. Colin Makoto 12 April 1999: Tembisa

37 Interview with Mr. Colin Makoto 12 April 1999: Tembisa

38 Interview with Ms. Ouma Maswabi 18 March 1999: Wilgespruit

39 Interview with Ms. Ouma Maswabi 18 March 1999: Wilgespruit

40 Interview with Mr. Duma Khumalo 23 February 1999: Johannesburg

41 Interview with Mr. Duma Khumalo 23 February 1999: Johannesburg

42 Interview with Mr. Rudy Mphela 15 March 1999: Johannesburg

43 Interview with Mr. Rudy Mphela15 March 1999: Johannesburg

44 Interview with Mr. Rudy Mphela15 March 1999: Johannesburg

45 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report Volume 2, Chapter 3 p 214 (CTP Book Printers (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town, 1998)

46 Interview with Mr. Rudy Mphela15 March 1999 Johannesburg

47 Interview with Mr. Dale White 23 February 1999: Wilgespruit

48 Interviw with Mr. Dale White 23 February 1999: Wilgespruit

49 Document compiled by Geoff Sifrin about Wilgespruit Peace Memorial plan 1998

50 Interview with Mr. Wilson Ntshangase 4 march 1999: Alrode

51 Interview with Mr. Tebogo Nchike 25 February 1999: Thokoza

52 Interview with Dr Margaret Mojapelo 13 May 1999: Thokoza

53 Brandon Hamber, Repairing the Irreparable: Dealing with double-binds of making reparations for crimes of the past. Paper presented at the African Studies Association of the UK Biennial Conference Comparisons and Transitions at SOAS, University of London, London, 14- 16 September 1998), p. 7.

54 Brandon Hamber, Past Imperfect:Dealing with the Past Northern Ireland and Societies in Transition (Belfast: INCORE, The United Nations University of Ulster, 1998), p. 57.

55 Sowetan 11 June 1998 "In memory of the Fallen Heroes"

56 Thokoza Monument plaque

57 Mamelodi Memorial board

58 Tembisa Monument plaque

59 Sowetan 9 February 1998 "Plan to honour Thokoza Victims"

60 Interview with Dr Margaret Mojapelo 13 May 1999: Thokoza

61 Interview with Mr. Duma Khumalo 23 February 1999: Johannesburg

62 Saino's Research Report (unpublished)

63 Interview with Mr. Rudy Mphela 15 March 1999: Johannesburg

64 Interview with Wilson Ntshangase 4 march 1999: Alrode

65 Interview with Dr Margaret Mojapelo 13 May 1999: Thokoza

66 Interview with Greater Alberton mayor Mrs Nomsa Maseko 15 February 1999: Alberton

67 Interview with Mr. SamTheron 29 January 1999: Thokoza

68 Interview with Ms. Ouma Maswabi 18 March 1999: Wilgespruit

69 Interview with Mr. Daniel Makoto 12 April 1999: Tembisa

70 The memorial story in perspective by Dr. Margaret Mojapelo 4 November 1998

71 Interview with Ms Ouma Maswabi 18 March 1999: Wilgespruit

72 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 29 January 1999: Thokoza

73 Interview with Mr. Sam Theron 29 January 1999: Thokoza

74 Saino's Research Report.

75 Saino's Research Report.

76 Sunday Times 7 February 1999 "ANC will not pay victims of apartheid"

77 NGO Sector Press Statement 10 February 1999 "ANC Reneges on its Promise to Victims"

Appendix 1: Individuals Interviewed

Name Organisation Place of Interview Date
Caiphus Sambo Mayor of Greater Germiston Germiston 30 November 1998
Nomsa Maseko Mayor of Greater Alberton Alberton 15 February 1999
Duma Khumalo National Field Worker KSG Johannesburg 23 February 1999
Margaret Mojapelo Local Medical Practitioner and Director of TMF Thokoza 13 May 1999
Dale White Former Director Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre Wilgespruit 23 February 1999
John Khumalo Coordinator of TPDC and Deputy Director of TMF Thokoza 21 February 1999
Sam Theron Chairperson of TPDC Thokoza 21 February 1999
Wilson Ntshagase IFP Representative in TMF Alrode 4 March 1999
Tebogo Nchike ANC Representative Thokoza 25 February 1999
Rudy Mphela KSG Field Worker in Mamelodi Johannesburg 15 March 1999
John Welman Head of Community Services
Greater Alberton Council
Alberton 12 February 1999
Godfrey Mhlanga Communications Officer
Tembisa Local Council
Tembisa 12 April 1999
Collin Makoto Chairperson Tembisa Monument Committee Tembisa 12 April 1999
Induna Zwane Induna of the Buyafuthi Hostel Katlehong 17 October 1998


Appendix 2: Mamelodi Memorial Board

(These names are captured in this report because the Board was vandalised)

"Painting to memorate these Mamelodi people Who died in the struggle."

Under this message were 50 names painted indiscriminately as follows:

Stanza Bopape Samuel Masilela
Kenneth Dlamini Justice Mbizana
Rooibaard Geldenhuys Elizabeth Mello
Morris Kabini Jeffrey Mgidi
Reginald Kekana Obed Mkhonwana
Samuel Ledwaba Maggie Mohale
William Likhuleni Moeketsi Mokoena
Patrick Lephote Josiah Mokwape
Mathews Lerutla Moses Morudi
Jackson Maake Elizabeth Msiza
Aaron Mabaso Jeremiah Ntuli
Salome Mabena Thomas Phiri
Victor Mabena (Hlope) Dr. Fabian Ribeiro
Jeremiah Magagula Florence Ribeiro
Martin Mahlangu Elliot Sathege
Solomon Mahlangu Masombo Shaba
Kenneth Mahlase Sello Shinondo
Benjamin Mafadi (Baloyi) Harold Sefolo
Steve Makena Moses Sibanyoni
Abram Makolane Philip Sibanyoni
Andrew Makupe Philip (Sipho) Sibanyoni
Mbuso Malobola Jeffrey Sibaya
Hezekias Maseko Jacob Songo
John Maseko Sarah Teffo
Philip Maseko Nkululeko Masomola



Address by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP President of Inkatha Freedom Party and Minister of Home Affairs (16 October 1999) "Peace Celebration in Honour of the Victims of Political Conflict in Thokoza".

Hamber, B. (1998) Repairing the Irreparable: Dealing with double-binds of making reparations for crimes of the past. Paper presented the African Studies Association of the UK Biennial Conference Comparisons and Transitions at SOAS, University of London, 14- 16 September.

Hamber, B. (ed).(1998) Past Imperfect: Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland and Societies in Transition. Northern Ireland: INCORE.

City Vision ( 30/ 10/ 1998) "Politics prevent opening of Thokoza Monument".

Mojapelo, M. (4/ 11/ 1998) "Thokoza Memorial Story in Perspective" Unpublished.

NGO Sector Press Statement (10 February 1999) "ANC Reneges on its Promise to Victims"

Saino, M. (1998) "The Thokoza Monument Foundation Building Community Memory" Un published.

Sifrin, G.(1998) "South African Nobel Laureates Memorial Peace Park and Peace Academy".

Simunye News ( July/August 1998) "Tombstone Symbolises Community's Commitment to Peace".

Sowetan (9/ 2/ 1998) "Plan to Honour Thokoza Victims".

Sowetan (11/ 6/ 1998) "In Memory of the Fallen Heroes".

Statement of the President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, (16 October 1999) at the Unveiling of the Thokoza Monument.

Sunday Times (7/ 2/ 1999) "ANC will not Pay the Victims of Apartheid".

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report (1999) Volume 2, CTP Book Printers (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town.

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