Cape Town — Already tense racial feelings in several parts of South Africa are likely to be inflamed further by the May 28 death of two boys who were shot down in a street in a rundown part of Cape Town.
The boys were among a group of young Colored people (South Africans of mixed race) who were stoning cars.
Isolated violent demonstrations by young Colored people have started to occur in recent days after a drawn-out boycott of Colored schools by pupils who have been protesting the standard of education in their schools, which they describe as "inferior and racist."
Much less is spent on each child in a black school than on a child in a white government school.
The fatal shots were fired by four white men in civilian clothes who jumped out of a car when they saw the stoning taking place. It was confirmed later that the men who did the shooting were members of a police patrol.
The shooting seems bound to aggravate the tensions that already exist between government authorities and the pupils, which have increased during the five-week school boycott, and between the Colored community as a whole and the government.
For a while last week, things looked calmer, and it seemed that the pupils would return to school after Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha intervened in the dispute himself, and there were promises that the pupils' grievances would be thoroughly investigated. The government also promised to deliver within weeks thousands of text books that the Colored schools need.
But the boycott resumed when the government closed down the black University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape province, because of student demonstrations there.
The government then countered with threats, warning Colored children that they could be expelled if they did not return to school this week.
This just added fuel to the fire. More pupils joined the boycott and there were public demonstrations. In the center of Cape Town, members of a special police riot squad dressed in camouflage uniforms batoncharged young demonstrators who were occupying a major shopping complex. More than 100 demonstrators were arrested.
The security police also moved in, raiding homes before dawn and taking away scores of people for interrogation.
Under various South African laws, people can be held indefinitely just on the say-so of the minister of police.
Among those arrested in Cape Town are seven senior members of the staff of the University of the Western Cape, a school for Coloreds. The most senior of them is a distinguished young academic who holds a high degree from one of the major universities in Brussels. He is Dr. Jakes Gerwel, who was appointed Professor of Afrikaans-Nederlands at the beginning of this year.
Others arrested include community workers, teachers, and some young scholars.
Altogether about 150 are believed to have been detained in connection with the boycott so far, and more could follow. The security police are refusing to give details of people they have arrested, or to confirm that certain people are in fact being held.
The security police arrests are in addition to the arrest in Johannesburg earlier this week of 53 clerics who were taking part in a protest related to the school boycott. Among the clerics was the Anglican (Episcopalian) Bishop of Johannesburg, South Africa's biggest city. The head of the Methodist Church in South Africa was also held.
By a coincidence, at the time of the boys' shooting on May 28, the South African Parliament, which sits in Cape Town, was debating the government's policies towards the nearly 3 million Colored people in the country.
Colin Eglin, spokesman for the main opposition party in Parliament, the Progressive Federal Party, declared that relations between the country's Colored citizens -- who have no vote -- and the government had never been worse.
Earlier, at a time of numerous police raids and arrests in various parts of South Africa, the Senate quickly passed legislation that will soon make it an offense for any publication to name people arrested under provisions of the Terrorist Act unless the minister of police or the commissioner of police give their permission.