Boipatong Massacre remains etched in many minds 30 years on

It was 30 years ago on this day when around 40 people were killed in what has gone down the annals of history as the Boipatong Massacre.

The massacre nearly collapsed the CODESA talks with the African National Congress (ANC) abandoning the negotiations after accusing the FW De Klerk government of being complicit in the killings.

At the time it was alleged the raid in Boipatong was part of the South African Defence Force Operation Marion.

However, that was nearly derailed by the Boipatong Massacre and for many survivors, 10pm on that day still lingers in their memories like yesterday.

Thirty-three-year-old, Mita Molete was only three years old when she witnessed her father dragged outside and shot to death multiple times.

The little toddler was stabbed in the head, an injury that has left her confined to a wheel chair for the rest of her life.

Molete says, “Before they attacked my mother, they attacked my father first and dragged him outside because there was blood all over. Then a one person approached my mother to attack her, then as they tried attacking my mother rushed to me to protect me. As she was protecting, that white person took a machete and attacked me, she used her hand to protect me from being struck by that machete. At first she managed to protect but the second time around he managed to strike me on the head.”


Mariah Mosoetsa was 14 years old at the time and her family also was not spared. She lost her brother and uncle, and on that night, they were all grieving the death of her mother.

Mosoetsa says, “After going to bed around 10, a hippo [South African police armoured vehicle] stopped at the street after that we heard the sound of the windows being broken, and we heard them saying usuthu – usthu , maak oop die deur, where are Mandela’s dogs. We hid under the bed with my pregnant sister, my brother and uncle were deep asleep that time. They stabbed them in the bed I was under. I moved a bit, then they searched everywhere in the house. White people covered their faces with black ashes, others were wearing Zulu attire.”

And even today she is still struggling to come to terms with wounds left by that tragic event.

” I am still hurt, because Boipatong was the reasons why the CODESA negotiations stalled, but for us till now we still have traumas, it is history but talking to you now I still remember vividly the sound of that night, I didn’t receive counselling, others still have wounds of that night.”

At the time, the apartheid government labelled the massacre as Black-on-Black violence, but for the victims it was the machination of the apartheid regime.

Suspicions were that these attacks were aimed at undermining the delicate process of negotiations aimed at paving the way to democracy.

At the negotiating table were the National Party under FW De Klerk with the ANC led by Nelson Mandela among others.

Crime against humanity

Two years ago, South Africa’s last apartheid president De Klerk opened old wounds saying apartheid was not a crime against humanity as declared by the United Nations, but he later retracted his view, although a storm of outrage had already erupted.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema in Parliament said De Klerk is a murderer, that he has got blood in his hands and the people of Boipatong are turning in their graves.

Even today, the Boipatong Massacre remains a central point in the struggle for democracy in South Africa and forever it will be etched in the minds of many South Africans as a painful event in the fight for freedom.

VIDEO: [Graphic content] This Day in History – Boipatong Massacre | 17 June 1992

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