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Winnie Mandela Freed on Bail; Ponders Next Move on Court Order

January 01, 1986|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

KRUGERSDORP, South Africa — Black nationalist leader Winnie Mandela was freed on bail Tuesday after defying a South African government order banning her from Johannesburg and its black satellite city of Soweto, but she appeared uncertain whether to continue her confrontation with the authorities and risk immediate imprisonment.

Mandela, 49, the wife of imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson R. Mandela, was freed on $200 bail here after a night in jail, but the magistrate made a condition of her release that she remain outside the Johannesburg and Roodeport magisterial districts, as ordered 10 days ago by the minister of law and order.

Under Magistrate Chris Eksteen's ruling, Mandela would be immediately jailed and held without bail until she comes to trial if she were arrested again for reentering the Johannesburg area.

As she conferred Tuesday with her attorneys at a friend's house in Kagiso, a dusty black township outside Krugersdorp, 20 miles northwest of Johannesburg, Mandela was undecided about what to do, but there were hints that she was leaning toward returning to her home in Soweto.

"It appears that we are going for round three now," said Prakesh Diar, one of her lawyers, referring to Mandela's arrest on Monday and a week earlier on charges of violating the restrictions imposed on her by the government. "She is a very determined woman, and it appears that at this stage she will at least attempt to go back to her home in Soweto at some point."

Community Leader Killed

In Cape Town, a 60-year-old black community leader was beaten and burned to death, according to police, in fighting Tuesday between militant youths and more conservative older blacks at Guguletu, one of the city's black townships, and more killings were reported in political feuding at other black townships there.

Large groups of older men who have grown impatient with the protests of the "comrades," as radical black youths call themselves, were reported by residents to be moving through Guguletu and other townships in house-to-house searches for the youths, beating those they found.

Although most of the youths fled, some had regrouped, according to residents, and were beginning to counter-attack, raising fears of considerable bloodshed if the fighting continues. In one clash, five men were seriously wounded when a member of a rival group threw a hand grenade at them.

Residents accused the police Tuesday evening of sending trucks with loudspeakers through the townships encouraging the older men to attack instead of intervening to stop the clashes.

President Pieter W. Botha, meanwhile, told the country in a televised New Year's message from Cape Town that his government would proceed with its step-by-step reforms. Botha asserted that demands for faster and more sweeping changes would bring "disastrous results for our country."

'We Must Not Dispair'

"During 1986, we must continue to act with a sense of responsibility and have mutual respect for each other," Botha said. "We must not despair. . . . Let us enter the new year with daring."

The president blamed the unrest of the past year on "attempts from various sources inside and outside our country . . . to create chaos in some of our urban areas" and on "terrorist forces operating and control from outside (trying) to overwhelm our country."

And he lavishly praised South Africa's security forces, often accused by blacks and liberal whites of brutality, for their efforts to curtail the unrest.

Negotiations were continuing late Tuesday between Mandela's lawyers and government officials in search of a compromise that would end Pretoria's increasing embarrassment over her refusal to obey the new restrictions.

One possibility would be a special order letting Mandela live at her home in Soweto pending court decisions on the validity of the government restrictions barring her from it; another might be a week's stay in a nursing home to give her time to rest and to reduce her high blood pressure.

'Back to Square One'

"It seems that we are back to square one with the government," Diar said Tuesday, "but we are still trying and still hoping that common sense will prevail."

Diar said that Mandela was physically exhausted and feeling unwell and that she would get a thorough medical checkup today. She was spending the night "somewhere safe," he said, but refused to say whether she again had reentered Johannesburg in defiance of the government restrictions.

The government 10 days ago eased the restrictions, some of which have been almost continuously in force since 1962, on Mandela's activities and ended her banishment to the remote farming community of Brandfort, 225 miles southwest of here in the Orange Free State.

But she had refused to accept the new order, which continues to bar her from all politicial activities and prohibits her from being in Johannesburg or Soweto, and for this she was arrested last week and again Monday with considerable international publicity.

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