Below is a copy of a document which exists on the internet - published by the ANC at an undetermined date, possibly in the late 1980s. See highlighted lines.

It is interesting that the ANC thought it appropriate to demand the right to armed self-defence for it's 'cadres' - at a time when they were suffering probably less fatalities as a result of 'apartheid police' action than is now (in 2007) the case amongst citizens of South Africa as a result of violent crime.

The original document is here:




Guidelines for the creation of peoples self-defence units

1. Introduction

1.1 In the wake of the ugly violence against our people by security forces, vigilante groups and hit-squads it is imperative that our liberation movement takes responsibility for guiding and building people's self-defence units.

1.2 This task is urgent and should be given top priority by the ANC and our allies.

1.3 A political solution to this problem must be sought.

1.4 We need a two-pronged strategy:

1.5 Self-defence structures need, by definition, to be para-military. They differ from all the other forms of organisations referred to, including street committees.

1.6 At present, in the light of the Groote Schuur and Pretoria Minutes, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) alone cannot undertake the task of our people's defence, although this is a right we need to forcefully demand and struggle for.

1.7 As we proceed to establish defence units so we must raise the demand for the right of self-protection.

1.8 Our people have the moral right to state: "We do not intend to attack anybody but we demand the right to protect our lives, our families, our homes and communities! We are forced to create defence units for the sake of our lives".

1.9 Our strength is in our numbers but it must be organised strength.

1.10 In the past there were some examples of township or shanty-town inhabitants setting up loosely formed defence units.

1. 11 Considerable experience has been acquired from township and rural resistance. This must be utilised to develop the best way of organising defence structures.

1.12 In forming defence structures there are various elements and tasks we will have to tackle

2. Organisations

2.1 The creation of a defence system for a township, shanty town, rural district or other such area should first be discussed with local organisations.

2.2 Having agreed on a common approach the local organisations should next approach the community at large in order to explain the need for a local defence system and ensure their understanding and acceptance.

2.3 Once agreement has been reached by the community, local organisations should appoint or elect a defence committee. It is probably preferable that the committee should be appointed because popular individuals do not necessarily make the best commanders but such appointments should arise out of careful consultation. The committee should be composed of reliable and decisive people who have the ability to organise and command without being dictatorial. Comrades with military skills, such as MK cadres or reliable ex-policemen, could be likely candidates for key positions.

2.4 The committee and the entire self-defence structure serves the community and the people's organisations and is subservient to them.

2.5 Whether the committee is appointed or elected, the popular organisations should have the right to replace anyone on the committee who proves to be unsatisfactory or even to replace the entire committee if need be.

2.6 But when the community is under attack or in danger, all must obey the defence committee's orders.

3. Structure

3.1 Township Defence Force (TDF)

To begin with we should concentrate on creating defence structures at the township level. This will give us a chance to test and experiment with the appropriate structures.

3.2 Township Defence Committee(TDC)

The TDC must be headed by a commander who works with a deputy (second in commander or 2iC) and about eight others.

3.3 Company formations

Immediately under the defence committee are the company formations.

3.4 Platoons

A platoon would consist of 100 volunteers, under a platoon commander and deputy.

3.5 Sections

A section would consist of 20 volunteers, under a section leader and deputy. Five sections make up a platoon. The section is the basic unit of the defence force.

4. Street defence systems

4.1 There are a variety of ways in which the townships could be defended.

4.2 Each section is responsible for the defence of a single street from one intersection to the next.

4.3 Five sections (one platoon) defend a block of five streets.

4.4 Five platoons (one company) defend a block of 25 streets.

4.5 Four companies should cover the entire township. If this is too small, additional companies can be established.

4.6 During the period before full strength has been achieved one section could be responsible for defending two or more streets.

4.7 The residents of the respective streets fall under the protection of the appropriate sections.

5 Recruitment

5.1 Joining the defence force must be on a voluntary basis.

5.2 Volunteers must be carefully selected. Criminals and other unreliable element must be excluded until they prove their reliability.

5.3 Would be recruits must be screened and checked by the street committees and popular organisations to prevent infiltration by impimpi's. If no street committees exist, a system of neighbourhood checking must be instituted.

5.4 Recruits must accept the requirements of discipline and readiness to obey orders. They must be prepared to undergo physical and other training. They must be ready to give their time and service and understand the need for punctuality. Above all they must understand that they are serving the community.

5.5 Those who display the best qualities should be appointed to leadership positions.

6. Training

6.1 There will need to be a basic training programme for all volunteers and a specialised training programme for commanders and those dealing with specialised tasks such as communications, intelligence etc.

6.2 Physical Fitness

Volunteers need to be physically fit. Light physical training is best conducted at the section level.

6.3 Unarmed Self-Defence

The joining of martial arts classes like karate should be encouraged.

6.4 Drilling time on weekend should be allotted to marching and drilling information from section to platoon and finally to company level.

All these signals and manoeuvre must be practised until perfection is achieved.

6.5 Political Instruction

At least one evening class should be conducted every week. Initial lectures should deal with the reasons for self-defence and the role of the TDF.

6.6 Weaponry


Rudimentary weapons

While everything must be done to adequately arm the defence units we should not scorn the use of rudimentary weapons.

6.7 Training Time-Table

A time-table for training might look like this:

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