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.
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: http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/misc/trc2g.html
THE SAKE OF OUR LIVES!
for the creation of peoples self-defence units
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.
- In the past our attempts
to defend ourselves have been spontaneous and sometimes poorly planned, and
lacking in discipline.
- What we need is an organised
and disciplined force, guided by political leadership, which will serve both
to protect the community and ensure law and order.
1.2 This task is urgent
and should be given top priority by the ANC and our allies.
- The onslaught on our
movement and on the people is an attempt by the regime to divide our people,
weaken our movement and sow suspicion and confusion. Failure to find ways
of protecting our people will inevitably lead to a loss of confidence in the
ANC and the liberation movement. There is also the danger of widespread demoralisation
among the masses if no solution is found.
- One of the aims of the
reactionary forces is precisely to intimidate the masses and eliminate leading
1.3 A political solution
to this problem must be sought.
- Initiatives such as the
talks with Inkatha are extremely important. Campaigns at local and trade union
levels to improve understanding between township communities and hostel dwellers
- Political pressure on
the regime, side by side with well-documented exposure of the role of the
security forces, and mass protests throughout the country, are means through
which we can force the government to curb the killers.
- But side-by-side with
these political endeavours, we must build organisational structures that can
protect the lives and homes of the people.
- The building of strong
ANC and SACP branches, trade unions, civic associations, youth and women's
organisations and street committees are the foundation of our people's unity
- No matter how strongly
we develop these democratic structures, however, in the current climate of
violent assault we need to establish specialised, broadly-based people's self-defence
- These should embrace
all our people's political, social and cultural organisations irrespective
of ideological differences and political affiliation.
- In other words defence
units should not be affiliated to any political party or movement but to the
protective force which serves the community as a whole.
1.4 We need a two-pronged
- a political offensive
for peace and unity among the people based on strong political organisations;
- self-defence structures
to protect our people.
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.
- They must be tightly
structured to repulse aggression and ensure law and order, they need a specific
command and control system; their members must be trained and have a high
degree of discipline.
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.
- The August 6 cease-fire
does not neutralise MK.
- It has an important role
to play. MK cadres, particularly ex-prisoners and those due to return from
exile, must play a leading and active role in the establishment of the defence.
1.7 As we proceed to establish
defence units so we must raise the demand for the right
- Government Ministers,
including De Klerk and Vlok allow the Inkatha bands to carry so-called "cultural"
- What is more they allow
the AWB to organise military training camps and concede to them the right
of "self protection" as long as in Vlok's words their commandos "do not attack
people, who are overwhelmingly the victims of aggression, must demand the
right of self-protection too! It is a demand the regime will find extremely
difficult to deny and by pressing energetically ahead with a programme of
establishing defence units we will make it impossible for the authorises to
prevent their growth.
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".
- Clearly we cannot rely
on the apartheid police and army for protection.
- When they are not attacking
the people they are encouraging, siding with and arming the ultra-right forces,
warlords and vigilantes.
- The impression is also
very strong that the sinister hit-squads are recruited from their ranks.
- If we are to protect
our lives then we must rely on our own strength, organisations and resources.
1.9 Our strength is in our
numbers but it must be organised strength.
- A group of 200 armed
thugs cannot possibly overcome a township of 20 000 if the people are prepared
united and determined.
1.10 In the past there were
some examples of township or shanty-town inhabitants setting up loosely formed
- These often degenerated
into sectarian or personal power-bases and sometimes were used as a cover
for criminal activities.
- To guard against this
defence units must have firm political direction and be rooted amongst the
communities they serve.
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.
- We need to collect such
contributions, organise group discussions, and workshops etc. to learn and
generalise from the practical experience.
- This booklet is a contribution
to ongoing discussions.
- Theory must grow out
of practise and in turn guide practise.
1.12 In forming defence
structures there are various elements and tasks we will have to tackle
- Among these are:
- Street defence
- Barricades &
- Auxiliaries (support
- Work with hostile
- Tactics and the
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.
- Involved in these consultations
should be ANC and SACP branches, civic associations, local trade union structures,
women and youth groups, and other formations irrespective of ideological or
- As broad a spectrum of
groupings as possible should be involved.
- There should be no intention
of setting the defence units up as "armies" of any political groupings or
- This is undesirable and
potentially dangerous - it is prescription for "Lebanonising" a conflict.
- The defence units are
created for the purpose of protecting the community. But this does not mean
that the ANC and its allies should not initiate and guide the process.
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
- Time and attention must
be given to this important process. It is pointless to proceed unless the
people are fully behind the idea.
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.
- This principle must be
made perfectly clear to all members of the self-defence structures and to
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.
- This is not the time
to attempt to replace members of the committee: that must be done before the
danger arises, or after it is over.
3.1 Township Defence Force
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.
- This booklet will concentrate
on a model for a Township Defence Force (TDF).
(We will need to elaborate
models for both urban and rural localities, for squatter camps and possibly
for industrial zones. There is the need for defence structures on mine compounds.
NUM have established these at some mine hostels and important lessons have
been learnt. There is also the need to elaborate some form of protection
on the trains, at taxi ranks and in city centres where a system of patrolling
- For the purpose of this
booklet we will elaborate a structure for an urban township taking a population
size of 20 000 inhabitants as our demonstration model.
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
- These head the various
defence formations and structures.
- On the committee will
be the company commanders plus those responsible for the various specialist
responsibilities: chiefs of communications; intelligence; political instruction;
ordinance/Logistics (for organisations of weapons and materials).
- Other portfolio could
be medical and engineering (construction of barricades/ defence works).
- The TDC must have a permanent
headquarters (HQ) - with alternative workplace for reasons of security.
- Security must be promised
to ensure the safety of the TDC and its HQ.
- For this purpose a security
section under the TDC's deputy commander should be created.
- The TDC must be linked
to all subordinate structures by efficient and reliable means of communications.
3.3 Company formations
Immediately under the defence
committee are the company formations.
- These should be organised
along para-military lines and are probably the most manageable units for the
defence of a township of about 20 000 inhabitants.
- Because of the defensive
aspect of the tasks and para-military nature of the structures the company
and subordinate formations will be larger than found in a regular army.
- Each company could consist
of about 500 volunteers.
- Four companies totalling
2 000 volunteers would make up the full complement of the TDF.
- Each company would be
under the charge of a company commander and deputy company commander.
- (It will take time for
the companies to reach full strength. The numbers involved will depend on
the success of the recruitment drive. It might be necessary to first build
one company and then proceed to develop additional ones.)
- Alternatively companies
could be started simultaneously and gradually built to full strength.
- The strength of platoons
and sections, referred to below, will therefore depend on the success of recruitment.
- If there are not enough
recruits then the figures suggested could be halved without interfering with
the structural arrangement.
A platoon would consist
of 100 volunteers, under a platoon commander and deputy.
- Five platoons make up
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.
- The most rational system
would be to give each unit a specific area of responsibility which it would
protect with the co-operation of the residents of that area. Such a system
could be referred to as a "street defence system".
- Units could move out
of their allotted defence sectors and take up different positions if need
be. This would depend on tactical considerations.
- At present we will simply
outline the basic defence sectors of the units.
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
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.
- They will be organised
on a voluntary basis in an auxiliary or support capacity for the defence of
their street and homes and to render assistance to the section.
- This support should be
organised with the assistance of the street committees where these exist or
through the popular organisations.
- Every inhabitant, young
and old, has a role to play and should be organised.
(For the tasks of these auxiliary forces see section 12)
5.1 Joining the defence
force must be on a voluntary basis.
- A lively and active recruitment
drive must be launched to popularise the need for joining up.
- As the first units are
formed and begin to train and drill in uniform much excitement and enthusiasms
will be generated and the ground swell to join will increase.
- Membership should be
open to able-bodied adults, both men and women. The community must set a minimum
age-limit - probably 16 or 18. Youth under the age-limit and others of all
ages can be deployed in the auxiliary forces.
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.
- Comrades trained with
in the ANC 's security organ should help set up this screening system.
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.
- The wearing of uniforms,
drilling in formation and political education will build the required discipline
5.5 Those who display the
best qualities should be appointed to leadership positions.
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,
- Instructors will need
to be appointed and in most cases given some training guides and assistance.
Commanders and deputies from section, platoon and company levels will need
to be given some initial training slightly in advance of their units so they
in turn can act as instructors.
6.2 Physical Fitness
Volunteers need to be physically
fit. Light physical training is best conducted at the section level.
- Time will be a constraint,
however, especially for those going to work early and returning home late.
Where possible the section should exercise as a unit.
- Ten minutes light exercise
followed by a twenty-minute daily jog is sufficient.
- If the section can only
exercise together on the weekend then individuals should be encouraged to
exercise on their own on a daily basis.
- The joint weekend run
can be increased to 30 minutes and is strongly recommended.
- As well as developing
strength and stamina the joint run (or toi-toi) will develop a collective
- A longer run is not recommended
because time on the weekends will be needed for other training and activity.
6.3 Unarmed Self-Defence
The joining of martial arts
classes like karate should be encouraged.
- Those with such skills
should be utilised to teach the basic exercises to the others ("each one teach
6.4 Drilling time on weekend
should be allotted to marching and drilling information from section to platoon
and finally to company level.
- Units will have to be
trained to speedily assemble ("fall in") and to rapidly move in formation
from one point to another. They must become used to rapid "on the double"
- Drilling is the basis
of organised and disciplined manoueuverability. It is also the way of conditioning
the volunteers to respond to commands as a formation.
- The units must be trained
to immediately respond to various signals and alarms. The use of whistles
should be used to convey certain commands.
- For example three blasts
of whistle could be the order for a section to assemble at a particular point
in their street.
- There needs to be a signal
that commands the sections to assemble in their platoon formations and an
other which brings the entire company together at a particular assembly point.
- There need to be commands
which order sections to take up defence positions in their streets and others
which speedily bring the platoons and even companies to specific points of
- There need to be signals
for advance and retreat and of course an alarm which mobilises the entire
township into a state of battle readiness.
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.
- They syllabus should
deal with the national liberation struggle, the current political situation,
strategy and tactics etc.
- A political campaign
will have to be waged for the arming of the self-defence units.
- All avenues need to be
explored, including the setting up of licensed security organisations.
- Licensed weapons can
- Funds will have to be
collected on a voluntary basis from the community.
- Once even a few firearms
have been obtained firearms training can begin. This should be handled by
MK cadres and sympathetic township police.
- For initial training
purpose airguns should be used. Air rifles and pistols (the pellet gun type)
can be bought for about R200 each.
- The advantages is that
no license is required and they are an excellent, cheap and safe way for teaching
people how to aim and shoot correctly.
- A suitable practise ranges
needs to be organised.
While everything must be
done to adequately arm the defence units we should not scorn the use of rudimentary
- From early times people
have used clubs and stones, catapults and spears for hunting and self-defence.
- The martial arts illustrate
how formidable simple weapons can be.
- A history of township
and rural resistance shows that rudimentary weapon can be effectively used.
- The Vietnamese peasants
used rudimentary weapons extremely effectively against the mighty American
invaders (for example traps of sharpened bamboo, spikes etc).
- In countries like EI
Salvador and Nicaragua home-made weapons have been used on a mass scale in
the struggle against dictatorship (e.g. petrol bombs, homemade handgrenades,
- Our people must be encouraged
to make homemade weaponry purely for defensive purpose.
need to face the fact that it is going to be a problem to obtain the necessary
firearms. Until we do, we will simply have to make do with homemade weaponry.
- In a country like South
Africa, however, there are plenty of sophisticated means of protection that
can be legally purchased among them gas guns and sprays. Cross bows and bow-and-arrow
sets can also be bought without a licence.
- Factory and engineering
workers have the skills and the equipment to manufacture rudimentary weapons.
- Volunteers who do not,
have firearms should at least be quipped with two stout sticks, clubs or iron
bars and a homemade shield.
- With training these can
be utilised in a formidable way for self-defence against assailants armed
with rudimentary weapons.
- A section or platoon
of determined volunteers, acting in unison, can offer stiff resistance.
- Would-be aggressors will
think twice before advancing on a company of 500 trained volunteers beating
their shields with the sticks and displaying a militant attitude.
- In many countries this
is how the police are equipped for riot control.
- Neither should we scorn
the use of missiles such as stones. We have seen how stone throwers can put
even the police to flight. A platoon or section of volunteers throwing stones
on command and in unison can disrupt and put to flight a hostile attacking
- If a few armed volunteers
are informed by units hurling stones and other missiles, such as petrol bombs,
a very strong defence can be put up.
- This means that training
should be conducted to improve the throwing ability of the volunteers.
- The auxiliary forces,
township youth etc. need to be given such training as well.
- In this way any hostile
force can be met by a sustainable hail of missiles which will make it impossible
for them to advance and can actually put them to flight.
- The auxiliary forces
can be given the task manufacturing home-made weapons and stockpiling reserves
- Work and storage places
need to be organised for this purpose and the weapons safely hidden.
- The ordinance/logistics
chief is responsible for the acquisition, manufacture and safe storage of
all weapons and material. For this purpose he will need a small staff of assistants.
They will issues instructions to all units and auxiliaries in this respect.
- We can make up for our
shortage of firearms by the well organised use of rudimentary weapons. When
these are used by a highly manoueverable battle formation, following well
prepared plans and employing flexible tactics, utilising a barricades system
and other fortifications and reinforced by the whole population acting as
an auxiliary force, the township will be turned into a hornet's nest for the
- As the defence units
become better equipped with modern firearms so their
defence capacity will be increased. The prior used of rudimentary weapons
will have served as useful training and practise apart from their defence
6.7 Training Time-Table
A time-table for training
might look like this:
- Physical Fitness - 3-0
minutes first thing every morning plus a longer group run on weekends;
- Political - evening class
once a week;
- Drilling - two to three
hours on the weekend;
- Firearms - one to two
hours on the weekend; Classes should not be too large and are therefore best
conducted at section level ( that is for 20 volunteers).