Address by President Nelson Mandela at the funeral of the victims of the Richmond massacre, Richmond

12 July 1998

The bereaved families;
The Mayor of Richmond, Comrade Andrew Ragavaloo;
Comrades and Friends,

It pains me deeply that each time I come to Richmond, I come to comfort the bereaved families of the murdered victims. The murder of councillor Rodney van der Byl first brought me here. I came here for the second time to bid farewell to five ANC members, including two ANC councillors who had been murdered at Esimozomeni. Today I come here to comfort the families of the murdered Deputy Mayor, Percy Thompson, the family of Marcel Heeralal and of Hendrik van der Merwe who were killed while watching a World Cup Match.

I want to send my deepest condolences to the families of Gugu Sosibo and Musa Gwambe who were buried yesterday. I also want to send condolences to the families of Noor Dawood, Sham Anniruth and Hithan Parshotam who were buried last week.

I deeply sympathise with the Mayor, Andrew Ragavaloo and his family, on whose shoulders most of the brunt of these brutal murders has fallen. His house has become a place of pilgrimage for all the families that have been direct victims of this senseless political violence. His family has become a beacon of hope and strength.

Kungiphatha kabi kakhulu ukuthi njalo uma ngiza lapha eRichmond ngisuke ngizokhalisa futhi ngizoduduza imindeni nomphakathi osuke ulahlekelwe abomndeni nezihlobo odlameni. Kwaqala ngokubulawa kikaKhansela Rodney van der Byl, lapho kwathi uma esethunwa ngazoduduza umndeni wakhe Kwalandela ngokubulawa kwamalungu eANC amahlanu okuhlanganisa kuwona nababili ababengamaKhansela ngonyaka owedlule. Nalapho ngeza ukuzoduduza imindeni. Namuhla ngilapha futhi eRichmond ukuzongcwaba abantu bakithi ababulewe ngesihluku ngesikhathi bezikela ibhola lendebe yomhlaba. Ngesikhathi laba ababulewe bezozijabulisa ngokubuka ibhola izinswelaboya zona zazisendleleni yobubi nokubulala.

Mndeni wePhini leMeya, uPercy Thompson, mndeni kaMarcel Heerralal, noHendrik van der Merwe, sikhala nani. Akufelwe nina nodwa. Kufelwe isizwe sonke.

Ngikalisa futhi nemindeni kaGugu Sosibo, noMusa Gwambe, abebengcwatshwa izolo. Ngikhalisa nemindeni kaNoor Dawood, Sham Anniruth kanye nokaHithan Parshotam abangcwatshwa ngesonto eledlule.

What are we to make of the pattern of political violence in Richmond?

We have a spate of political killings with no arrests and no convictions. This is followed by high profile arrests. As more people come forward and intensified police investigations continue, the killings stop and for a long period there are no political murders. When the trial of those arrested collapses, within a few weeks the killings begin again. Again there are no arrests and no convictions.

We must be careful not to exaggerate the importance and role of individuals in the political violence at Richmond. The perpetrators are just tools used by the Third Force elements within the upper echelons of the security forces in Greater Pietermaritzburg. It is these elements that must be nipped in the bud if we want to finally defeat political violence in Greater Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding areas. It is the individual responsibility of each one of us to consider carefully the consequences that our communities have to bear because of our actions and to look careful at what our motivations are.

But we must together confront the question as to why the perpetrators of these heinous crimes seem to be acting with impunity, Why are there no arrests that lead to convictions? We all have to answer these questions but the police Command in KwaZulu-Natal in general and the Police Command in Greater Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding areas have a greater responsibility to answer these questions.

It is clear that the people of these area have lost confidence in the existing policing authorities. It is not then time for the Area Police Command to offer themselves for transfer to other areas?

Such a step on their part will be seen by our people as an important contribution to the solution of the policing problem in this area of Greater Pietermaritzburg. In any case, if they were interested in doing their work professionally it should be in their interest to leave an area where the community does not trust them.

In the meantime I call upon the Richmond community to work closely with the security forces to defeat the forces of death and destruction in this area. Some of these rotten elements are to be found within the police service. Surely, there are innocent police officers who know who these rotten eggs are within the SAPS. They must be reported irrespective the positions they occupy within the SAPS.

The problem of policing and securing convictions is not just confined to Richmond. It is prevalent in many parts of KwaZulu-Natal. At Intshanga, seventy seven murders have taken place in a period of one and a half years, Yet there are no convictions. In Glebelands Hostel 60 people have been killed in the last seven months. There is neither any arrest nor conviction. At Lindelani just north of Durban dozens of people have been killed reportedly in political fights. There are no convictions for all these murders.

I am encouraged by the fact that in some areas like the South Coast and the North Coast the close working relations between the communities and the police have made a change in the safety and security situation of our people. In both cases, criminals have been arrested, convictions secured and political thugs thrown into prison.

I believe that those behind the death and destruction here at Richmond will also be found and thrown into prison sooner rather than later. This is the challenge to the Government, police and the Richmond community.

Kuyanfijabulisa ukuthi ezindaweni ezithize zalapha KwaZulu- Natal njengasoGwini IwaseNyakatho nase Ningizimu sekunomehluko omkhulu ekuphepheni kwemiphakathi ngenxa yobambiswano olukhona phakathi kwabantu balezozindawo namaphoyisa. Ababulali abaningi sebeboshiwe bagqunywa emajele.

Ngikholelwa ukhuthi nababulali balapha eRichmond bazotholakala, baboshwe baqgunywe emajele. Lokhu kuyinselelo ku Hulumeni, amaphoyisa nakumphakathi walendawo.

I thank you.

Source: South African Government Information Website