Personal Memoirs of the Events at Steadville, 2000–2008: A Socio-Political Exploration

  • Ntando Mbatha Free State Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation
Keywords: Steadville, violence, gangs, politics


In the year 2000, Steadville (a township near Ladysmith in the province of KwaZulu-Natal) descended into chaos as two factions of the African National Congress (ANC) in the area clashed. The violence claimed more than 50 lives. More than 80 per cent of those killed were community members who were not involved in the violence. Following an investigation by the Provincial Department of Safety and Liaison in KwaZulu-Natal in 2008 a number of gang members were arrested for their involvement in the violence. The alleged gang leaders were killed in 2003 and 2005, but the violence continued after their deaths, with gang members seeking revenge. The literature and newspaper reports do not do justice to the situation that prevailed in the area for over eight years. The aim of this paper is to share personal narratives of people who were involved in the violence as well as community members whose lives were affected. There were no-go areas, scholars were unable to attend school out of fear for their own safety, and people vacated the area because the violence affected their quality of life. This study does not aim to tell all the stories of the people of Steadville. However, it hopes to encourage further research into this under-explored topic and elicit aid, so that affected people may find some form of healing and reconciliation. The qualitative research method, the oral history methodology as well as the traditional methods of historical research were employed to examine why there was such violence in Steadville, and how it started. Smaller focused samples were used, and owing to the nature of the study, the researcher relied on group discussions, texts, telephonic interviews, oral testimonies, and individual conversations.


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