"A place of healing warmth, vitality, resourcefulness, inner strength and viability." That is how the Crossroads' squatters camp near Capetown is portrayed by the media, to quote just one source.
Contrary to this picture, the statistics show: In a four-month period, 30 stolen cars were found there, 51 assaults on persons were reported, as well as 8 cases of housebreaking, 26 cases of theft, four cases of robbery and one murder. In two incidents residents were caught with a total of 31 bags of marijuana and other residents with 15 kilos of marijuana as well as 900 packets ready for street distribution.
Coupled to these facts are problems caused by an unsatisfactory sanitation and health environment that resulted from the influx of illegal aliens in the area. . . .For that reason temporary steps were taken to minimize the health risk present and legal residents were permanently housed elsewhere in the speediest possible way. The continuing influx of illegal aliens, however, proved not to abate, which resulted in a steadily worsening situation.
Efforts by South Africa to rectify the situation led to a meeting between the prime ministers of Transkei and South Africa in 1977.Illegal aliens were afforded time until the end of 1977 to voluntarily return to their places of legal residence. Only a limited number availed themselves of this opportunity. . . .
During the weekend of May 14, formal notifications were served upon the squatters to vacate Crossroads. At the same time information was made available that detailed ways in which the illegal aliens would be assisted to obtain railroad tickets for themselves and transportation for their furniture. Squatters who came forward and who were legally resident in the area were assisted to find decent housing and were supported in finding work.
Illegal aliens, however, have to be repatriated as they are presently usurping job opportunities for more than 4,000 legal residents in the area who are currently unemployed. It should be realized that controlled squatting does not take account of economic and social realities and as such an uncontrolled influx fosters problems for the well-being of the community as a whole. . . .
Despite the preceding it became clear that the issue of Crossroads was being utilized by outside agencies to deliberately promote polarization. Nearly 30 organizations, some of which are connected with the World Council of Churches, were active at Crossroads and were spreading the idea that the squatters had the right to come to Crossroads.
Despite the indisputable legal position vis-a-vis the illegal aliens, the meeting between the respective prime ministers and the formal notification served on the illegal aliens, those groups assured the squatters that it was their right to squat at Crossroads; that squatters should ignore the pleas by the authorities as those groups would see to it that they will be allowed to remain at Crossroads. Those groups also worked behind the scene to elevate the Crossroads issue to an international climax. To that end, a survey done by the Urban Problems Research Unit of the Institute on Race Relations was also used.The survey was carried out under the control of a squatters' committee so that the results do not present a true picture.
To combat the crime situation at Crossroads, periodic preventative action has been taken. The latest of these crime-prevention actions took place Sept. 14. When the police arrived at Crossroads, the residents were awaiting them and attacked the police with bricks, stones, sticks (knobkerries) and iron bars. The police were forced to withdraw to avoid serious bloodshed and had to use tearsmoke to get out. During the course of the withdrawal one constable was isolated and surrounded, fatally wounding one attacker in self-defense. Ten policemen were injured in the withdrawal action. The police later re-entered the area and arrested 400 persons.
Indications are that the attack on the police was orchestrated to incite a confrontation between the authorities and the residents. Despite the fact that the police action was planned in the greatest secrecy, news media were contacted telephonically prior to the action, requesting them to send reporters and photographers to Crossroads because "something was going to happen."
. . . The above would indicate that the events at Crossroads were callously planned to escalate a rountine preventative crime action into a situation that can be publicized and exploited internationally.