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Necklacing depicts the phenomenon of intra-community violence which reached its peak in the early 1990’s in the KwaZulu Homeland in Natal where supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) clashed violently with members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).  



36" x 24"  Oil on Canvas  (2000)         $2000


Necklacing refers to throwing a rubber tire over a victim’s neck, dousing it with gasoline and igniting it thus burning the victim to death.  The burning of a body was a sign of contempt for the victim and his/her deeds and no act could convey a deeper sense of hatred and disrespect.  It was also used to make an example of the victim and deter others from similar behaviour.

Necklacing originated in the Eastern Cape in 1985 when on March 23rd, the police in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage shot and killed 21 people.  The angry residents retaliated by necklacing a staunch community counselor and his three sons, believing they were police informers.  Every known home of an informer or policeman was attacked and burned and the term ‘necklacing’ entered into the South African vocabulary.  This method of vigilantism distinguished the killing in South Africa from other types of intra-community violence around the world.   Initially, necklacing was only used for collaborators or informers but later political targets were also necklaced and burned.

Prior to the mid-1980’s, typical weapons in the townships included stones, sticks, knives and petrol bombs; however, post mid-1980’s, hand grenades and firearms became the weapons of choice.  In addition, tires and gasoline were readily available in the townships though typically many of the victims were already dead before being burned.   Burning was also used by the police and security forces to cover up killing, as in the famous cases of the Pebco Three and the Cradock Four where burning was able to remove evidence of criminal murder and political killing.

The Policy of Apartheid or Separate Development in South Africa was intended to keep each of the racial groups separate and in particular to keep the black tribes from uniting in defense of their collective rights.  In effect it became a policy of divide and conquer.  As the black violence against the whites escalated in the 1980’s, the ruling Nationalist Party formulated a covert policy to instigate and foment violence between one black group and another in order to divert their attacks against the whites and to prevent a united stand by blacks against whites. 

The idea of a ‘third force’ was created under the Internal Stability unit in 1991 and this group was chaired by the then Minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok.  The ‘third force’ was a separate division of police specifically tasked with public order policing.  The focus of the strategy was to arm and train the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) under Chief Buthelezi of KwaZulu (the homeland of the Zulu tribe) to carry out vigilante attacks on the African National Congress (ANC) and the United Democratic Front (UDF).  From 1990-1994 a total of 14,000 people died from political violence in South Africa, according to the Human Rights Commission, Feb.1998.



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