White Extremists Vow Organized Violence In South Africa
As police begin to crack down, rightists warn of `war' over the issue of a homeland
JOHANNESBURG — IN what is likely to be the biggest crackdown ever on white extremists in South Africa, police have made the first arrests among an estimated 200 to 300 right-wingers involved in the violent storming of the site of the country's multiracial negotiations Friday.
Right-wing groups have responded to at least 21 arrests by publicly taunting the police to "come and get them," and right-wing leaders have warned that their followers would turn to organized violence if the government continued to deny them self-determination.
"Afrikaner emotions have been building up, and I don't think I will have control over it when it spills over," says Gen. Constand Viljoen, leader of the right-wing umbrella Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF).
Conservative Party legislator Piet Gous, a driving force in the AVF, says that Afrikaners had reached the point where they were "prepared to kill" for their "right to self-determination."
He says if negotiators signed away the right to self-determination, it would be a "declaration of war."
"Then there will be an active military front as well as an active political front - just like the Irish Republican Army," he says.
Wim Booyse, independent policy analyst and an authority on the white right-wing, says that a nationwide crackdown would drive the right-wing underground and make it better organized and more effective.
"One must not overlook the fact that there has been a Biblical justification for their actions in recent weeks - for instance their citing of the 10 plagues - and there is evidence of a new fundamentalism being born," Mr. Booyse says. "A crackdown will lead to a hardening of attitudes and will reduce the remaining resistance they have to using violence."
In a TV interview before leaving for a trip to Egypt and the United States, African National Congress President Nelson Mandela said the ANC was not prepared to consider any form of self-determination that would contribute to splitting up the country.
But he said that the ANC would discuss right-wing demands for self-determination within the framework of its policy on creating strong regions that could provide for "some form of self-rule within a united country."
OFFICIALS of the ruling National Party have indicated in recent weeks that they will soon put forward a proposal for some form of white homeland within one of the proposed federal states in a new South African constitution.
The assault on the negotiation headquarters was made the day after a debate in the 26-party negotiating forum, which rejected the right-wing demand for a sovereign white Afrikaner homeland.
The right-wing Conservative Party, the most extreme of the right-wing groups represented in the negotiating forum, is due to table its proposals today for a geographical territory on which to base a white "homeland."
Police Commissioner Johan van der Merwe said Sunday that the police expect to make scores of arrests. He denied that police were dragging their feet. He said he had instructed his officers to track down and arrest the 200 to 300 people involved in the attack.
But General van der Merwe was more cautious about the position of Africaner Resistance Movement leader Eugene Terre Blanche and AVF leader General Viljoen. He said it was "very difficult to say at this stage" what role Mr. Terre Blanche had played.
Right-wing leaders have warned that "blood will flow" if Terre Blanche, Viljoen, or Conservative Party leader and AVF chairman Ferdi Hartzenberg are arrested.
Van der Merwe said Viljoen had played a "positive" role by trying to persuade the 3,000-strong crowd outside the building not to resort to violence and had entered the building with the sole purpose of restraining others.
At a news conference held inside the building by right-wing leaders, Viljoen condemned the violence but warned that when the right-wing resorted to violence, it would be planned and disciplined.
The arrests were made 24 hours after Mr. Mandela and President Frederik de Klerk left the country for different venues before meeting jointly with President Clinton in Philadelphia on Sunday to receive the Liberty Bell award.
The two leaders are scheduled to meet separately with Mr. Clinton in Washington on Friday - the same day as the negotiating forum meets in Johannesburg to finalize an election date.
But on the eve of his departure Saturday for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) meeting in Cairo, Mandela said that he would not call for the lifting of sanctions until a transitional authority was in place or until enabling legislation had been passed.
There is no chance of either of these conditions being met by Sunday, but Mandela said that he would nevertheless call on the World Bank to start preparing for development projects and would ask the US for "massive assistance" with socio-economic development.