Bophuthatswana: A Pillar of Apartheid Falls
Violent collapse of homeland has turned the tide against forces trying to sabotage South Africa's all-race elections
MMABATHO, SOUTH AFRICA
PRESIDENT Lucas Mangope, ruler of the fragmented black homeland of Bophuthatswana for 15 years, was removed from office early yesterday by the South African government, which during the heyday of apartheid created the homeland and installed the dictatorial leader.Skip to next paragraph
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The South African Defense Force (SADF) was welcomed Saturday by the residents of Bophuthatswana as though it was a liberation army, as it drove out some 2,000-odd armed white right-wingers who had come to support Mr. Mangope and thus sealed a popular coup against him.
President Mangope, who had spurred popular protests by saying the homeland would not participate in the all-race South African election on April 27, backpedaled on Friday to say he would take part in the vote. But he later refused to give the necessary assurances that the campaign and ballot would be free and fair in his territory.
The removal of Mangope, regarded by most of his Tswana subjects as corrupt, followed days of street fighting and looting in which at least 25 people were killed. Most victims were black civilians.
South Africa's ambassador to the homeland had been placed in administrative charge of the area. The Pretoria government announced Saturday a virtual state of emergency in 53 towns and cities mainly in the white right-wing strongholds of Transvaal and Orange Free State provinces.
The ousting of Mangope - and of the white right-wing forces that traveled here at his request to help him - has turned the tide against those forces trying to sabotage the country's first nonracial ballot.
The tumultuous events over the past week have also opened a deep split in the white right between the more moderate faction loyal to Gen. Constand Viljoen, former co-leader of the right-wing Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF), and the neo-Fascist Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) of Eugene TerreBlanche.
The heavily armed members of the white right-wing, who arrived here in convoys Thursday night, suffered a humiliating defeat when they were led out Friday night by members of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force - and later the SADF.
It was during the early stages of the withdrawal by a convoy of the AWB just after midday on Friday that BDF troops shot at an automobile carrying right-wingers - killing one and wounding two of the khaki-clad men. As the two badly injured men lay on the ground talking to journalists, they were executed at point-blank range by an angry Bophuthatswana soldier in camouflage.
Political analysts fear the television images of the shootings could spark a huge wave of revenge against innocent black South Africans. ``The executions have created martyrs and, I fear, an enormous backlash by AWB supporters, and gratuitous killings of blacks,'' says Cape Town University political scientist David Welsh.
``If the authorities want to stop a confrontation, there will have to be swift pre-emptive action against the white right and elements in the IFP which are planning to disrupt the election,'' he adds. ``At the very least, the training of IFP guerrillas by white right-wingers must cease immediately.''