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7 More Blacks Killed in South Africa Unrest : Much of Violence Apparently Aimed at Local Officials Cooperating With White Government

March 24, 1985|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Seven more South African blacks were killed Saturday in continuing racial unrest around the industrial center of Port Elizabeth on the country's southern coast, and further violence is now feared there and elsewhere.

Five men died in the black township of Kwanobuhle near Uitenhage, northwest of Port Elizabeth--probably at the hands of other blacks who considered them collaborators with the minority white regime.

Two others were shot and killed by a black police constable. Police said he had chased six men suspected of throwing fire bombs at local officials' homes in Kwazakele, another black township near Port Elizabeth, and then found himself surrounded by an angry crowd of more than 100 who attacked him with knives and other weapons.

Black Officials Targets

Violence in most other areas--Johannesburg's black suburb of Soweto, the townships of Sharpe-ville and Sebokeng south of the city and two more townships to the north--also appeared aimed at local black officials, black policemen and others seen as cooperating with South Africa's apartheid system of racial separation.

Clashes between blacks and police were continuing intermittently in several areas near Port Elizabeth late Saturday, according to reports from the city. Police described the situation as "generally under control" although crowds of more than 5,000 had gathered on the streets of several black townships there.

Emotions have been running very high in South Africa's black communities since Thursday, when police near Uitenhage opened fire at point-blank range to halt 3,000 to 4,000 black marchers who, police maintain, were pelting them with stones, bricks, sticks and firebombs. Blacks, however, say the police fired without warning on a peaceful group holding a funeral vigil for three people killed in earlier disturbances.

Death Toll Now 19

The death toll in this incident at Langa township outside Uitenhage now stands at 19, and more than 30 other blacks are still hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

Since Jan. 1, about 75 blacks have been killed in racial or political unrest here, and since last August, nearly 300 have died.

"This country is tearing itself apart," the respected Rand Daily Mail said in an anguished front-page editorial Saturday. "We are writing our history in blood. Police man the barricades in (black) townships across the country; mobs roam. There is the smell of anarchy in the air."

Special Inquiry Planned

A respected jurist has been named to conduct a special inquiry into the deaths at Langa on Thursday, but more clashes seem inevitable before the report is published and acted upon.

The Mail's editorial, reflecting a growing consensus of liberal and moderate whites here, called for a specific government commitment to meet black grievances, including a timetable for the implementation of promised reforms, and an effort to resolve the underlying problems.

3 Beaten to Death

Most of the violence Saturday occurred in Kwanobuhle, another of Uitenhage's black townships housing industrial workers for the region's factories. Large groups of youths demonstrated in the streets there and in Langa.

Three youths were beaten to death with axes, shovels, sticks and stones, police reported, after they were pulled from the funeral parlor they had been guarding on behalf of one of the youths' father--the only black town councilman who refused to resign under pressure from residents who viewed the council as a puppet group. Their bodies were then doused with gasoline and burned in the street of the township.

The badly charred remains of two other men were found by police earlier Saturday in Kwanobuhle. They had apparently been killed in overnight fighting in the township.

Police also reported that they had to use shotguns to disperse a large crowd that had surrounded a police armored car in Kwazakele when it became bogged down in a field and then was bombarded with about 20 firebombs made with gasoline-filled bottles and fuses of flaming rags. A police spokesman said he did not know how many people were wounded in that incident.

In Soweto, two hand grenades were thrown at the home of Mayor Edward Kunene early Saturday, police said, but damage was slight and there were no injuries.

The homes of two local black officials near Fort Beaufort in Cape province about 100 miles northeast of Port Elizabeth, and two others at Parys, south of Johannesburg, were set on fire Saturday by crowds of angry youths, according to police.

And in Langa, black policemen and their families were evacuated from the township after their homes were attacked.

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