Flow­ers

CityPress - - News -

“We de­cided to not be sit­ting ducks, and to get into our car and drive out with our two ba­bies. For a long time, I could not talk about this. I ran back to our house to get boots. That saved us,” she re­calls.

“We did not know that the de­fence forces were shoot­ing peo­ple who came out to the road. Their in­tel­li­gence was out of date. They wanted to kill ANC peo­ple and stop the Botswana gov­ern­ment from giv­ing ANC peo­ple refuge.”

Twelve peo­ple were mur­dered. The re­ac­tion to the raid was so neg­a­tive that apartheid spy Craig Wil­liamson planted sto­ries in The Cit­i­zen and Sun­day Times un­der the head­line, Guns of Gaborone, dis­play­ing im­ages of weapons he had sourced from his se­cu­rity branch col­league, Eu­gene Coet­zee.

The Rich­ers, like many in the ANC and MK, left Botswana and moved to Zim­babwe. The raid, says Lau­ren­tia, af­fected their youngest child the most as they lived in a state of fear and con­stant sur­veil­lance af­ter learn­ing they were on the SA De­fence Force hit list.

SEX­UAL ABUSE

Many women are still afraid to talk of their ex­pe­ri­ences in MK, and of the sex­u­ally ex­ploita­tive prac­tices that hap­pened to some at the hands of se­nior ANC mem­bers.

In a mas­ter’s the­sis about 10 MK women, sub­mit­ted in 2009, Kongko Louis Makau found that the great­est chal­lenge the Class of 1976 had to deal with af­ter cross­ing the bor­der, was “un­do­ing the long-held per­cep­tion that the mil­i­tary was ex­clu­sively a male do­main where women had no place”.

Many of the young women had been treated as equals dur­ing the Soweto up­ris­ing.

As Mo­hale re­calls: “I used to work with men most of the time. They treated me with re­spect. I was mostly in the of­fice of Moses Mab­hida and Joe Gqabi. I was treated like a sis­ter.”

Makau found that once they ar­rived in the front­line states, “the women, in some in­stances, were not taken se­ri­ously by their male coun­ter­parts or were even un­der­mined. And, worse at times, they were seen as a threat for be­com­ing sol­diers.

“The women, there­fore, had to rely on other peo­ple, such as Chris Hani, to pro­tect them from abuse and mal­treat­ment in the camps.”

One woman, who shared ac­com­mo­da­tion with MK fe­male re­cruits from the 1960s and 1970s in Zam­bia and Tan­za­nia, said the ANC at the time was ill­pre­pared for women.

“They had to live to­gether with men in the camps. Maybe some­times a sep­a­rate tent was all they might have been given. They did not get san­i­tary tow­els, so they im­pro­vised with grass or clothes. They were con­stantly in fear of be­ing raped. So, to pro­tect them­selves they would get a boyfriend or sleep with some­one in charge.”

She re­lates the tale of an MK woman, who was once the lover of a well-known MK com­man­der. He took her on as his girl­friend in the late 1970s. “The com­man­der dumped her when she fell preg­nant, and she learnt very early on to use a knife and to wear clothes that made it dif­fi­cult to be raped by com­rades.”

Then­jiwe Mt­intso told the TRC how, de­spite her own high MK po­si­tion, a male com­rade told her: “You

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