Date of Award

Winter 1-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


War and Society

First Advisor

Dr. Kyle Longley

Second Advisor

Dr. Mateo Jarquin

Third Advisor

Rozell Nesbitt


The 1980s and 1990s marked the beginning of the end of Apartheid in South Africa but before the first fully democratic election in 1994, the KwaZulu-Natal region was being torn apart by a low level civil war. This conflict was not the black majority fighting against white minority, but part of so-called black on black violence. One side was the African National Congress (ANC) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) and on the other was Inkatha, secretly backed by the Apartheid state. Originally a Zulu nationalist liberation movement aligned with the ANC, Inkatha separated with the ANC over issues of ideology and politics. Instead, Inkatha secretly began working with the Apartheid government and engaging in violence against the ANC and their successor the UDF.

This thesis seeks to understand Inkatha’s role in the violence in KwaZulu-Natal by looking at what motivated Inkatha’s supporters to engage in violence. The main motivators examined in this thesis can be understood in the three categories of propaganda, coercion, and opportunistic and survival based violence. By utilizing interviews, newspapers, testimony, and more this thesis seeks to explore the experience of both those who were affected and perpetrated the violence to answer this question.

Finally, this thesis will follow the story of the Caprivi operatives, a group of Inkatha supporters trained by the Apartheid state to engage in violence and murder against the ANC and their allies during the transition period. By following the stories of these men and particularly their leader, Daluxolo Luthuli, this thesis will illustrate how the same motives explored above affect their decisions to engage in violence.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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