South Africa appears to be trying to create the impression of evenhandedness in dealing with political dissent, Monitor correspondent Paul Van Slambrouck reports.
Tough internal-security laws, usually used to quash black opposition to white minority rule, are being used now against one of the country's most radical right-wing groups - the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) resistance movement.
Nine members of the AWB have been detained for interrogation by the South African security police after caches of automatic weapons, ammunition, and explosives allegedly belonging to the organization were found.
The crackdown on the AWB, which advocates a clear policy of white racism and has been labeled neo-Nazi by the government, comes on the eve of the annual celebration of Afrikaner nationalism - the ''day of the vow,'' Dec. 16. The national holiday commemorates a violent defeat of blacks by white Afrikaners in 1838, thanks to what Afrikaners believe was a covenant with God.
While the detention of AWB members, including leader Eugene Terreblanche, has generated much publicity here, it does not suggest the government is getting as tough with the right as it is with the mostly black left. The AWB, founded in 1973, is actually a small group, which most analysts characterize as ''lunatic fringe.''