On Friday the 12th of October Zenzile Nyenye and Siyakhele Kwazile were arrested. They have been charged for the murder of Daluvuyo Bongo, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch secretary in North West. Daluvuyo Bongo was shot dead at Marikana on the 5th of October. On Wednesday Nyenye and Kwazile were denied bail by magistrate Carnel Bezuidenhout in the Rustenburg magistrate’s court.
This article is not written with the intention of arguing that Nyenye and Kwazile are innocent of the murder. What the article does argue is that, in terms of what we know about the way in which the security apparatus of the South African government operate, it is not unlikely that there is no evidence against them whatsoever. As will emerge, the article goes much further than this.
It argues that it is not unlikely that Daluvuyo Bongo was himself killed by agents of the South African government. Such a killing, it is argued, would have fitted in with a strategy of ‘creating conditions’ enabling the state to institute repressive measures against people associated with worker mobilization in Marikana and in North West province more generally.
Arrest and Trial as a Repressive Instrument
Tactics of this kind have of course been used in South Africa before. In 1956 for instance, Nelson Mandela was one of 156 people, all of them associated with the ANC and Congress Alliance, who were arrested. Criminal proceedings were instituted against over 90 of the accused in two separate trials. Neither of these resulted in the conviction of a single person. A group of 30 accused, including Mandela himself, were finally acquitted in March 1961. The 1956 to 1961 treason trial was an initiative of the apartheid government to disorganise and undermine the opposition.
It was in discussions between some of those who were on trial during this protracted period that the idea that it would be necessary to pursue armed struggle began to be discussed. The armed struggle was initiated in the period after the Sharpeville crisis of 1960, and the finalisation of the treason trial in March 1961. It was due to his involvement in the launch of Umkhonto we Sizwe that Mandela, and the other Rivonia trialists, were then successfully convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in 1964.