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The ANC intensified the Struggle to make South Africa ungovernable in 1984. It marked the beginning of what they called the People's War. They instituted widespread school boycotts, schools were torched and scholars ran rampant setting fire to cars and houses. Black ward councillors, seen to be supporting the apartheid government, were attacked in the streets and their homes burnt down. Many died horrible deaths from necklacing where tyres soaked with petrol were hung around their necks and set on fire. It was designed by the ANC to cow the black populace into obedience. In addition to the violence township dwellers were faced with an aggressive consumer boycott instituted by the ANC. Extortionists profited by selling essential foodstuff to residents at exorbitant prices but this was preferable to being necklaced!

Soviet support for the ANC and SACP was stepped up with the supply of smuggled weapons, training and financial support. Soon the black townships were awash with weapons. The ANC and the Zulu Inkatha Party both wanted black rule but both wanted to be the rulers! Soon a state of war existed between the ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe cadres and its surrogates and the Zulus both in Natal and in the Witwatersrand's black townships, particularly on the East Rand.

It was to deal with this maelstrom of murder and chaos that the East Rand Number 6 riot unit, amongst others, was deployed over the troubled years into the black townships. Sgt Nick Howarth was a Casspir commander and his story is a microcosm of the experiences of all riot policemen of the time. Much of their time was spent collecting the bodies of combatants, sometimes numbering in the 100s, and packing them in mortuaries. They were also engaged in attempting to keep both sides apart, but for their pains they were shot at by both sides and often bombed by the ANC. There were numerous police casualties and several unfortunates were captured by the ANC and necklaced. Very few white people living in suburbia had any idea of the killing and mayhem that was going on in the black townships.

Meanwhile ANC propaganda and carefully written press releases concealed the tactics being used by the the parties opposing the government. The picture painted by the ANC was that the police and army patrols in the townships were out-of-control thugs who were responsible for the murders and violence that had spread throughout South Africa. Much of this was believed by many in the National Party Government, by certain journalists and by many members of the public.

Lavishly illustrated with 28pp of b/w photographs