Renewed Township Violence Strains Ties Between ANC and S. African Government
JOHANNESBURG — SOUTH Africa's government said it would consider reimposing a state of emergency, and black leaders postponed crisis talks following a weekend of violence in which blacks killed blacks and whites fought whites. People felt frustrated and helpless across the country Monday after renewed township battles in which 37 blacks were killed - most of them in a declared unrest area swarming with security forces. Police made six arrests and seized weapons.
``We cannot stop the violence. We cannot stop the killing. We can only control it,'' said Brig. Leon Mellett, a spokesman for the Law and Order Ministry.
Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok said in a television interview that the state of emergency could be reimposed and political organizations banned again if negotiations failed to end the violence, mainly between supporters of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress and the predominantly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party.
But the ANC leadership yesterday postponed the talks on the township wars until Friday. Its deadline for the government to disarm the Zulus of their traditional spears and clubs and take action to halt the fighting, expires Thursday.
Alarms were also set jangling by the first significant clash between whites since the government began dismantling the system of apartheid 16 months ago.
White-led police wounded two right-wing farmers among 2,000 who tried to evict black squatters trying to reclaim land taken from them under apartheid laws 13 years ago.
The leader of the white supremacist Boerestaat Party, Robert van Tonder, said the government had crossed a line of no return and predicted another Boer War if police ever again opened fire on their white brethren.
At least 10 blacks were killed in political violence elsewhere in the country.
Mr. Vlok warned of the possible response to the continuing violence but said the government would have to consider a clampdown extremely carefully ``because this will cause this country a lot of damage.''
The ANC Monday condemned the ``brutal massacre'' at a Swaniesville squatter camp, where blacks were trying to reclaim land taken from them under apartheid laws, and said there was clear police collusion in it.
``It is beyond belief that all of this can take place in an unrest area without the knowledge of the police,'' it said in a statement.