ZWIDE, South Africa — Two thousand black mourners defied the South African government's ban on political funerals here Saturday to bury 11 victims of the continuing civil unrest as the latest "martyrs of the liberation struggle."
In a direct challenge to the stringent state of emergency imposed two weeks ago, the victims were buried together, while almost 100 policemen and soldiers watched nearby but did not interfere.
6 Groups Represented
Although the new regulations bar all political protest at funerals and permit only clergymen to speak, representatives from six anti-apartheid groups from nearby Port Elizabeth, including the United Democratic Front, denounced the government, its policy of racial separation and the state of emergency.
Chanting "Power to the people," singing freedom songs and later marching to the cemetery, the mourners tried to show that the state of emergency, which imposes virtual martial law on black communities, had not diminished their spirits.
But the mourners were few in comparison to recent mass funerals that drew 30,000 and more here, and they complied with some of the regulations by holding the service inside Zwide's New Apostolic Church rather than at a large sports stadium, and by limiting their procession through the streets.
"We are not afraid, but we don't want more of our people killed by the police just for Saturday sport," one of the organizers from the Port Elizabeth Youth Congress said. "We must continue to confront the (apartheid) system, but we must confront it effectively."
Rite of Passage, Outlet
The restrictions on funerals had drawn strong protests because of the importance that blacks place on honoring their dead and giving them proper burials. Moreover, in many areas, funeral services were the one remaining outlet for black political expression.
Aside from driving armored cars through the crowd as it left the cemetery to ensure that it dispersed quickly, police took no action during the daylong funeral, although it violated many of the new regulations laid down by Gen. Johan Coetzee, the national police commissioner.
According to official count, 23 people have been killed since the police and army received sweeping powers, including authority to detain anyone without charge or trial, in an effort by the government of President Pieter W. Botha to end a year of unrest. On Saturday, police reported that 18 more people have been detained under the emergency powers, bringing to 1,399 the number officially reported held in the last two weeks; 54 of those have been released.
The latest death was that of a man whose partly burned body was found Saturday near Cradock, 160 miles north of here. Another victim, a 16-year-old, died here Saturday of a gunshot wound he suffered when police dispersed a crowd Thursday. His death has not yet been included in the police report.
The funeral here Saturday made it more evident than ever that more blacks have died in South Africa's black townships under the state of emergency than police have reported. Of the 11 buried here, nine were killed in clashes during the first 10 days of the emergency, but only two or three of the deaths were reported in daily police bulletins.
The deaths of Thozamile Manga, 14, and Thabile Mancam, 17, both students at the Phakamisa Junior High School here, were typical of the victims, Zwide residents said.
According to their teachers and classmates, the two were attending a July 23 student meeting to discuss a class boycott when four or five black policemen burst onto the school grounds to break up the session and began firing at the students with pistols and shotguns. Several others, including two teachers, were wounded.
The police version is different. The policemen, searching for student leaders of the boycott to question them, were stoned by 150 students and opened fire in self-defense, a police spokesman here said.
'They Always Obeyed'
"These kids weren't thugs," Lungile Goduka, the school principal, told mourners at the funeral. "They were schoolboys and they always obeyed me. We have to tell people how they died so that others will realize what is going on in our townships under the state of emergency."
Most of the mourners' anger was directed at the police, whose powers are nearly absolute in the 36 magisterial districts where the state of emergency was imposed. These districts embrace more than 60 black townships.
"A walk down the street after 7 o'clock in the evening can land you in jail or in the mortuary--it's the cops' choice," said Thami Soya, a cousin of one of the 11 dead. "The great shame is that these have died for nothing because their deaths don't really bring us a day closer to liberation from apartheid."