EAST LONDON, South Africa — White South Africans on Saturday received their toughest warning yet that a black revolution is coming to overturn apartheid and that they could be its victims.
At a funeral for 18 blacks killed by police in four days of unrest here last month, speakers declared to the enthusiastic roar of a crowd estimated at more than 60,000 that the time for negotiation with whites has passed, that nonviolent protests now are bringing only more black deaths and that the time has come to "take up the gun and whatever other weapons we can lay our hands on and kill our oppressors."
In a fiery speech at the end of the daylong funeral in Duncan Village, a black township near here, Steve Tshwete said: "We are tired of apartheid, and we are tired of being killed. We are going to fight. We are going to burn this town. We are going to destroy everything in this country. And on the ashes of apartheid, we will build a new South Africa."
Tshwete, the regional president of the United Democratic Front and a member of its national leadership, added: "We are not going to turn back now. We have passed the point of no return. For the whites, for the Boers (Afrikaner descendants of Dutch, French and German colonists), the moment of reckoning is coming."
Tshwete may not have been speaking formally for the front, a coalition of 650 anti-apartheid groups with 2 million members, but he was clearly voicing the sentiments of the crowd.
"Viva, Steve! Viva!" the multitude shouted and then went into a mock war dance in which blacks become guerrillas, arming themselves to kill whites.
Tshwete said that until now, most of the unrest during the past year has been in black areas and most of the 675 people killed during the year have been black. But it will soon spread, he said, adding, "It is not going to be very long before these fires start burning in white areas."
Other speakers, representing black civic associations, youth groups and labor unions, echoed Tshwete's uncompromising toughness, reflecting the growing militancy of blacks.
Sicelo Ndevu, an official of the South African Allied Workers Union, told the funeral crowd: "Our people are dying everywhere . . . in this country, and they will continue to do so until we have overthrown this evil system of apartheid."
Another speaker, representing United Democratic Front groups in Port Elizabeth, another industrial center on South Africa's Indian Ocean coast, called upon blacks to turn toward socialism and look to the Soviet Union for help in their battle against apartheid.
The anger of the crowd had turned early upon two men suspected of being police informers. Caught outside a soccer field where the funeral was held, the two were beaten with sticks and might have been killed if clergymen and United Democratic Front marshals who were present had not intervened.
Police, Troops Stand By
Police riot units, reinforced by combat troops, were positioned around Duncan Village, but they kept a low profile throughout the day.
Authorities, meanwhile, raised the official toll of dead in last week's rioting in the black and Colored (mixed-race) townships around Cape Town to 29 and said the situation there was still tense, with intermittent clashes between youths and security forces. Unofficial sources put the death toll at nearly 40.
Scattered incidents were reported elsewhere in the country overnight Saturday, but police reported that most of the violence was sporadic, confined to incidents of stone-throwing and occasional arson.
The nation's mining industry is bracing for a strike today by the all-black National Union of Mineworkers against seven gold and coal mines whose owners refused to increase their pay offers to match the raises given by the two leading mining companies. The strike is likely to involve 75,000 miners.
The 18 buried here Saturday, three of them children, were killed during four days of mid-August clashes between police and soldiers that turned Duncan Village, a community of 60,000 blacks, into a battle zone. The official death toll was put at 19, but local clergymen said that it exceeded 30.