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S. African Police Kill 6 in Clash With Stone-Throwing Youths : 500 Schoolchildren Held in Crackdown on School Boycotts

August 23, 1985|United Press International

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Shotgun-wielding police killed six blacks in battles with stone-throwing youths and arrested 500 schoolchildren today in a crackdown on widespread school boycotts.

In Cape Town, militant clergyman Allan Boesak urged thousands to join an illegal march on the city's top-security Pollsmoor jail next Wednesday to demand the release of jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela.

Police detained another 94 people under a state of emergency declared last month in an attempt to quell the worst unrest in the history of apartheid.

Today's violence erupted after the government banned Sept. 1 meetings marking the anniversary of riots that sparked South Africa's worst wave of racial violence.

Police in the black township of Aliwal North, 350 miles south of Johannesburg, used birdshot, tear gas, rubber bullets and shotguns in running battles with bands of youths who hurled stones and firebombs.

6 Killed, 20 Wounded

A police spokesman said 26 people were wounded by shotgun fire and six later died, bringing to eight the number of people killed in three days of violence in Aliwal North.

Police Commissioner Gen. Johan Coetzee on Thursday outlawed gatherings marking the anniversary of riots that erupted in Sharpeville Sept. 1. Eighteen towns around Johannesburg--including Sharpeville--had planned gatherings to mark the anniversary.

Troops and police swept the Johannesburg black township of Soweto for a second day, arresting students for allegedly boycotting classes. Police detained about 500 pupils at Fidelitas High School in Soweto for loitering outside their school and stoning officers in defiance of regulations meant to keep pupils in class.

"We are cracking down," the black Sowetan newspaper quoted Police Chief Brig. Jan Coetzee as saying. "We will not allow 5,000 stupid students to disregard law and order," he said, referring to the number of students believed to be boycotting classes in Soweto.

Held Overnight at Police Station

Authorities also began releasing more than 300 students--some of them as young as 7--who were detained Thursday and held overnight at a police station.

Boesak, the president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and an outspoken critic of apartheid, announced the march on Pollsmoor jail at a news conference in Cape Town. He said Mandela's release was "an essential prerequisite to a meaningful solution in South Africa."

"We call together South Africans in their thousands to join us" on the march, Boesak said. "On our part it will be nonviolent. We call on the authorities not to provoke people with a military presence."

The white-minority government has offered to consider releasing Mandela, who has served 22 years of a life sentence for sabotage, on the condition that he renounces violence in the fight against apartheid, South Africa's policy of racial segregation and discrimination.

Mine union delays strike. Page 5.

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