On March 28 1994, African National Congress (ANC) security guards at Shell House killed nineteen Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) members following a tip-off that IFP marchers were planning to attack the building. The Nugent Commission of Inquiry on what actually caused the shooting rejected this explanation. The commission's conclusion was that the shooting by ANC guards was unjustified. Shell house in Jeppe Street, Johannesburg, was home to the ANC after the organisation was unbanned.

This incident reflected the rising tensions between the ANC and IFP, which had begun in the 1980s in KwaZulu-Natal and had then spread to other provinces in the 1990s. The IFP claimed that the ANC was intent on undermining traditional authorities and the power of Zulu Chiefs. The ANC saw it as a power struggle as the demise of apartheid was finalised.

The IFP is based on a Zulu cultural organisation formed in the 1920s, originally called only Inkatha. The Zulu word means “grass coil” and has come to be associated with powerful cultural connotations of Zulu identity. The initial aim was to restore the Zulu kingdom and the land lost as a result of colonisation.


  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission granted amnesty to 11 people concerning the Shell House Massacre.
  • According to a 1997 inquest into the march, the organisers of that IFP march deserve the moral liability for the deaths of that day.

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