Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

Seminar No. 2, 1991

For the Sake of our Lives:
Guidelines for the creation
of peoples' self-defence units

Presenter: Jeremy Cronin

Jeremy Cronin is a senior member of the South African Communist Party.

Date: 24 April 1991

Venue: University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




Street Defence Systems






Barricades and fortification

First Aid


Work with Hostile Forces

Tactics and the Operational Plan


Once defence units grow in the key townships they can be spread throughout the country. Only experience will show what should be the most suitable structure, size, etc. Defence units will differ from area to area and between urban and rural communities.

The above outline should not be regarded as a blueprint but rather as a guide. Comrades with practical experience will provide ideas far in advance of this pamphlet. We must let the creative energy and talent of our people come to the fore.

Building on the experience gained in the townships we will have to devise methods of protecting our people on the trains, at taxi ranks and in the city centres. Some form of security patrolling will need to be devised for this. Such a system will have to be extended to the so-called white and grey areas where our activists are vulnerable and need protection.

As defence units and patrol systems take root and prove their ability to protect our people so the need to link the structures will grow. Ultimately we may envisage the emergence of regional forces and even a national people's defence force.

Such a people's militia could in time merge with Umkhonto we Sizwe to form the basis for a people's army and police force in the liberated, democratic, non-racial South Africa we are struggling for.

Amandla Ngawethu! Matla ke Arona! All Power to the People!

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