|The Turning Tide
|The convergence of increasing
solidarity and organisation amongst political activists, created a powerful
platform for coordinated grassroots action by the mid-1980s.
The prolonged depression meant that rates of unemployment were
rising, especially in the 16-25 age group, and the backlog of official housing
provision was rising from a figure of 46,000 homes to be built in 1980. The
economic conditions fuelled a sense of desperation and rebellion, especially
among the youth.
As the government tried to pacify growing resistance through
superficial reforms and heavy-handed repression, so it appeared vulnerable. The
declaration of the State of Emergency in 1985 was seen as a last resort and
evidence that apartheid was on the ropes.
Richard Rive's novel 'Emergency Continued' noted the change in
tenor from protest to violent revolt, as he describes parents assisting their
children in raising barricades across roads.
In coloured areas, incidence of revolt reached a very high
intensity after the 'Trojan Horse' incident in Athlone. Ten security force
members hid inside large metal crates on the back of a truck, and when stones
were thrown as they drove down Thornton road, they opened fire, killing three
youths between the ages of 11 and 21.
The two years following the 1986 National State of Emergency
brought tight control over the media, the recruitment of township policemen
('kitskonstabels') and sponsorship of conservative vigilantes. Nonetheless, the
effects of international pressure, a dwindling economy and the government's
lack of legitimacy meant that a critical point had been reached in national
Historians argue that the impasse between government forces and their opponents
was the very reason why a negotiated settlement became possible. Although
government gave no hint of it, secret talks were underway with the ANC, and
Mandela was being prepared for freedom, with secret trips around the city
including a stroll along the beach at Sea Point.
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History: