De Klerk Speech Cut Short by Hostilities As Right-Wing Students Protest Reforms
BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA — PRESIDENT Frederik de Klerk had his first brush with right-wing extremists at the university here late March 9 shortly after he had described the members of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) as "fascists and Nazis."
President De Klerk was to have addressed students at the University of Orange Free State at an informal meeting in the campus canteen. But when he arrived, he was met by both cheers and jeers from about 300 students and was unable to make himself heard above the clamor.
The scene broke into chaos when right-wing students threw tear gas in the president's direction. A student leader said members of the campus branch of the AWB were involved in the attack.
Earlier in the day, De Klerk told a referendum meeting that the right-wing Conservative Party had to take responsibility for the actions of the AWB because of it's alliance with the organization.
"I say let us fight communism but let us also fight fascism and Nazism - and I challenge the Conservative Party to take a firm stand on this," De Klerk said.
AWB spokesman Piet Rudolph said March 10 that if De Klerk continued referring to the AWB as "fascists and Nazis" he should expect a repetition of such revenge attacks.
De Klerk's hectic American-style campaigning at business centers, university campuses, and old-age homes is unprecedented in South African politics. He has been averaging six to eight appearances a day, and had encountered no hostilities until March 9.
Reacting to the attack, De Klerk said conservative speeches and referendum literature had created a climate for such "reprehensible and cowardly actions."
Conservative Party legislator Corne Mulder said March 10 that his party disapproved of the action against De Klerk.