Internecine war will destroy all in the beloved province

Past experiences inform that, allowed to fester, the trouble with the internecine violence between the ANC and the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal is that it tends to make the civil wars in Rwanda and Sierra Leone look like Sunday school picnics.

Past experiences inform that, allowed to fester, the trouble with the internecine violence between the ANC and the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal is that it tends to make the civil wars in Rwanda and Sierra Leone look like Sunday school picnics.

For a nation not at war, the skirmishes can be extremely blood-curdling. Cast your mind back to Christmas Day 1995 - location Shobashobane.

As the rest of the "normal" world was preparing to wake up to discover the generosity of Santa Claus, the faceless murderers who stole in the night into Shobashobane did not come bearing gifts.

In the killers' wake, 19 people lay dead, their only sin . belonging to this and not the other political party!

If you hear the heart-rending story of how the Ndabezitha family of Richmond lost 11 of their kin, you have barely begun to understand the horrendous repercussions of ANC/IFP pugnacity.

When Richmond burst into flames, the Ndaleni home of the Ndabezithas resembled a scene out of a bad movie.

Those who died that cold January night, as reports around the time suggested, "were all relatives of Neli Ndabezitha, a prominent Richmond ANC activist".

When Richmond beckoned many years later, the only member of the family fit to hold fort at the homestead had moved to Pietermaritzburg, the home a spooky reminder of the evils visited upon it a full 10 years ago on 11 January 1999.

Given a choice, the victims of the violence in Richmond would have run straight into the arms of the Janjaweed rather than the belligerent mobs - almost invariably people known to them - who were out to maim and kill.

Bheki Cele, now the head of police in the province, will remember Richmond only too well as he advised this writer - and many others at the time - against speaking to families who, just the night before, had lost their loved ones.

Cele would be an unfortunate victim of a short memory indeed if claims by IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi that the former let the police loose on his supporters are true.

How can he sow seeds of another Richmond in Nongoma, if he's really guilty as charged?

If KwaMakhutha rings a bell, you will appreciate the folly of another round of bloodletting between the political fiends in KZN. A mere mention of hit man Romeo Mbambo's name is sure not to sit well with many families, especially those affected by events that led to his trial in 1995.

In memory of all the people, from either side, who lost their lives in the past for wearing the wrong T-shirt or chanting an inappropriate slogan in KwaZulu-Natal, events of this past weekend in Nongoma must not be allowed to happen again, wherever it may be in the lush province.

Nongoma is a powder keg and let not anyone, from whatever side of the political divide, find justification to ignite the fuse.

And this should begin with the bright spark who sanctioned the two organisations to hold their events so close to each other - on the same day.

The country cannot afford another blood bath, it will be one too many.

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