THE South African government has outlawed the carrying of spears in declared unrest areas, following mounting political pressure to act against Inkatha-supporting Zulus, who have carried out many of the attacks in recent political violence. The ban on spears, announced Wednesday, was rejected by the African National Congress (ANC) as insufficient on the grounds that it was limited to 13 specified unrest areas. ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela said the ANC insists on a nationwide ban on all dangerous weapons.
The government exempted spears from a list of dangerous weapons outlawed two weeks ago because - along with sticks, shields, and ceremonial axes - they are regarded by Zulus as ``traditional or cultural'' weapons. Spears will still be allowed at bona fide ``cultural events'' - even in unrest areas.
Hours before the ban was announced, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Inkatha Freedom Party leader, said Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini would address a mass rally of Zulus at a football stadium outside Soweto Sunday. Zulus attending the meeting have been encouraged to wear ``traditional attire,'' which includes spears.
In other developments, the right-wing Conservative Party substantially increased its majority from 70 votes to 1,258 votes out of a total nearly 11,300 votes cast at by-election in the Conservative voting district of Ladybrand Wednesday. But the swing to the Conservatives was less dramatic than it has been in three by-elections in urban districts since the last general election in 1989.
President Frederik de Klerk met Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town yesterday to discuss the plight of five hospitalized political prisoners on a hunger strike. Mr. Mandela led the ANC in a symbolic 24-hour fast Wednesday to express solidarity with the hunger strikers. One was freed Tuesday.
The government has called the hunger strikers' action ``irresponsible.'' But the ANC has warned that it will resort to mass protests unless all political prisoners are freed soon and an amnesty declared for political exiles.
Winnie Mandela, who was recently sentenced to six years in jail for kidnapping and being an accessory to assault, was arrested twice Wednesday. Mrs. Mandela, who was among 205 demonstrators held, was released after questioning on both occasions. She is to be charged with blocking a public street, creating a disturbance, and resisting arrest.
The Mandelas created a stir Wednesday night when they attended a farewell function for Sir Robin Renwick, the British ambassador who is soon to become ambassador to the United States.