Mandela’s Church Street Bomb

Guerrilla warfare, as fought by the Boers one century ago, is recognized internationally as the honourable defence by disciplined fighters against a superior, armed enemy. The Boers attacked classical military targets, even though outnumbered most of the time by overwhelming numbers. The so-called ‘freedom fighters’ of Southern Africa, however, be they Frelimo, Zanu, Swapo or the ANC/Communist Mkonto e Sizwe (MK), very seldom attacked anything resembling a military target, – on the contrary, they specialized in the callous bombing of Wimpy Bars, the cowardly laying of landmines on farm roads, the barbarian ‘necklacing’ of defenceless township dwellers, and even the brutal torture of their own dissident comrades. What makes these atrocities more despicable is that some of the organizations actually signed the Geneva Protocols, which explicitly forbid this kind of terror and cruel intimidation. Serious students who wish to get an unbiased and balanced picture of the kind of terrorist ‘war’ fought by terrorist organisations like the ANC/SACP, the PAC and others should read the book The Other Side of the Story by Herman Stadtler, Sigma Press, ISBN 0-620-21100-8.
The Church Street bombing was a car bomb attack on 20 May 1983 by Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress, in the South African capital Pretoria. The bombing killed 19 and wounded more than 200, and was one of the largest attacks engaged in by the ANC during its armed struggle against apartheid. The attack consisted of a car bomb set off outside the Nedbank Square building on Church Street at 4:30pm on a Friday. The target was South African Air Force (SAAF) headquarters, but as the bomb was set to go off at the height of rush hour, those killed and wounded included civilians. The bomb went off ten minutes earlier than planned, killing two ANC operatives in the vehicle, Freddie Shangwe and Ezekial Maseko. At least 20 ambulances took the dead and wounded to hospital.

1983: Car bomb in South Africa kills 16
BBC: On This Day
20 May 1983

At least 16 people have been killed and more than 130 people injured in a car bomb explosion in South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria.
The explosion happened outside the Nedbank Square building on Church Street at about 1630 hours – the height of the city’s rush hour.
More than 20 ambulances attended the scene and took the dead and injured to three hospitals in and around Pretoria.
Police sealed off the surrounding area with a barbed-wire fence as emergency personnel sifted through the rubble looking for bodies.
Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene to search for a possible second bomb.
The outlawed anti-apartheid group the African National Congress has been blamed for the attack.

A huge pall of smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air as debris and bodies were strewn around the scene of the explosion.
It is understood the bomb had been placed in a blue Alfa Romeo car outside the multi-storey building, which houses the South African air force headquarters.
It exploded at the height of the city’s rush-hour as hundreds of people were leaving work for the weekend.
Glass and metal were catapulted into the air as shop-fronts and windows were blown out.
Many passers-by had limbs amputated by the flying debris. Others bled to death.
South Africa’s Minister for Law and Order, Louis le Grange, who visited the scene immediately, blamed the attack on the ANC.
He said: “I have no doubt who is responsible for this despicable attack.”
He said the explosion was the “biggest and ugliest” terrorist incident since anti-government violence began in South Africa 20 years ago.
He added: “Most of the victims were civilians, but some were air force personnel in uniform, black and white. Quite a number of those killed were black.
The ANC is committed to overthrowing the minority white government.

Oliver Tambo, who is the organisation’s acting president while its senior figure, Nelson Mandela, is in prison, said the Nedbank Square building was a legitimate target, although he did not admit carrying out the attack.
General Mike Gedenhuys, Police Commissioner, said: “Many of the victims are so badly mutilated they have not yet been identified.”
General Magnus Malan, South African’s defence minister, described the explosion as a “cowardly, criminal deed in the Communist war being raged against South Africa”.
He said more than 40,000 civilians had died as a result of terrorism in the past five years in Africa and 83,000 armed men had died.
South Africa has nearly five million whites, 21 million blacks, nearly one million Indians and about 2.5 million people of mixed race.
The government’s apartheid system denies citizenship rights to black people except in 10 remote homelands.
The ANC has warned it intends to step up its campaign to bring an end to white minority rule.
» » » » [BBC] [Bomb Photos: Kerkstraatbom]

 

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