Do not believe in the ANC’s tainted heroes

Pres. Jacob Zuma recently said that South Africa was a sick nation and that this “disease” was the result of violence that had been inflicted on the majority of South Africans during the Apartheid years.

The statement above was of course made with reference to the wave of xenophobia that currently afflicts the country. It isn’t the first time that Zuma blamed Apartheid for current crises – he also argued that Apartheid was to blame for the electricity crisis.

The President is correct if he believed that South Africa is suffering from a culture of violence. What he forgot to add, however, is that this culture of violence can be laid at the door of no one else but the ANC.

One of the Afrikaners’ biggest challenges is the fact that our history is harassed continuously. The ANC upholds a warped version of the past and uses that to justify any and all discriminating policies that are forced upon minorities.

This is the reason why AfriForum has accepted the risky task of producing a documentary about the ANC’s history.

The film Tainted Heroes examines the ANC’s strategy of violence throughout the 1980s and early 1990s in detail. It explains how the ANC and its partner, the South African Communist Party (SACP), went to Vietnam in 1978 at the insistence of the Soviet Union to study the strategy of a people’s war.

In a nutshell, this strategy entails that a revolution stands on two pillars: a political and violence pillar. The ANC learned that the efficient use of propaganda and violence for the purpose of creating terror was a real success element in this warfare strategy. They also learned that political rivals should be identified and destroyed.

It is therefore not surprising that shortly after this educational tour the ANC, for example, started branding Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his party, Inkatha – who opinion polls then showed to have enjoyed more support than the ANC – as “enemies of the struggle”. The ANC realised that they would have to establish themselves as soon as possible as the “sole representative” of black people if they wanted to win a majority election in South Africa in the future.

This is the primary reason why violence broke out in South Africa’s townships in the 1980s. Dr Anthea Jeffery, author of the book People’s War, a new light on the struggle for South Africa, explains that there have indeed been a war in South Africa, although this has not been a racial war. In fact, incidences where white people have been attacked, such as the Church Street and Van Eck and De Nyschen families close to Musina (previously Messina), were minimal compared to the rate at which black organisations such as the ANC and Inkatha murdered each other. More than 20 000 people have died in political violence in the 1980s and early 1990s. Almost all were black people, and the ANC, its affiliates and supporters were the aggressors in most of the cases.

One of the methods used was the so-called necklace murders. A tyre was put around a person’s neck, doused with fuel and then set alight. More than 500 people lost their lives in this way, while a further 700 people were burnt to death in other ways. It is widely accepted today that the ANC leadership spoke against this method of violence. However, the reported cases of Winnie Mandela, Chris Hani and Alfred Nzo condoning this method of violence are conveniently forgotten.

In 1985, the ANC went as far as to formally decide at its well-known Kabwe conference in Zambia that soldiers of Umkhonto we Sizwe, its military wing, no longer had to distinguish between soft and hard targets.

These are but a few of the elements of the ANC’s history that are examined in Tainted Heroes. The film is the first project of AfriForum’s newly-founded production company, Forum Films. It is divided into two parts: Part 1 deals with the ANC’s violence strategy and tells the dark history of the 1980s; Part 2 starts with the release of Nelson Mandela. It explains how political violence escalated in the 1990s and the process that the ANC followed, using violence to gain the upper hand during the negotiations for a new Constitution.

It is indeed true that South Africa suffers from a culture of violence. But it is untrue the former white government is to blame for this. Eric Arthur Blair (better known by his nom de plume George Orwell) once said that the most effective way to destroy people was to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history. This statement seems to be more correct than ever in South Africa.

Ernst Roets
Ernst is Deputy CEO of AfriForum and also the producer of Tainted Heroes.
Follow Ernst on Twitter at @ernstroets.


  • Different options for the dissemination of Tainted Heroes are being investigated. AfriForum members will be kept informed.
  • Visit for more information about the film.