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Mine Kills 2 Whites in South Africa : Toll at 13 in Blasts Attributed to Black Guerrilla Offensive

January 05, 1986|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A white farmer and his daughter-in-law were killed Saturday afternoon when their pickup truck hit a land mine on a cattle and game farm near South Africa's border with Botswana, a South African defense headquarters spokesman in Pretoria reported. Two other people were seriously injured.

Hubert de Beer, 55, and Elise de Beer, 32, both from the town of Ellisras in northern Transvaal province, were driving on a farm road near Stockpoort, about a mile from the Limpopo River dividing Botswana and South Africa, when the powerful mine exploded, hurling their light truck into the air.

Their deaths brought to 13 the number of whites killed in land-mine explosions and bomb blasts during the last three weeks in what appears to be a new offensive aimed at white civilians by guerrillas of the African National Congress.

Son, Friend Hurt

Deon D. de Beer, 34, Hubert de Beer's son and Elise's husband, the owner of the Stockpoort farm, and Daniel J. Venter, 58, a friend from Pretoria, were seriously injured in the explosion. They were airlifted to Pretoria, about 175 miles to the south, for medical treatment, according to the military spokesman.

Angry white demands for reprisal raids on African National Congress offices and camps in neighboring countries are certain to rise in the wake of the incident, the ninth land-mine explosion in the past six weeks. And the government is likely to take an even tougher stand in dealing with the country's continuing unrest, which it believes the African National Congress has encouraged.

Six people, including four children, were killed in a similar mine explosion Dec. 15 near Messina on South Africa's border with Zimbabwe, about 175 miles from Stockpoort. Five more died when a bomb was detonated two days before Christmas in a busy shopping center at Amanzimtoti, a popular resort about 20 miles south of Durban.

Guerrilla Escalation

Although no one has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday's explosion, the African National Congress recently said that it has undertaken a "generalized escalation" of its guerrilla war against South Africa's minority white regime and that white civilian targets, as well as military targets, will now be hit.

Earlier, authorities reported that two heavily armed black guerrillas were killed Friday night in a skirmish on the outskirts of Mafeking, about 20 miles from the Botswana border and 200 miles southwest of the site of the land-mine explosion at Stockpoort where the De Beers were killed.

Police in the nominally independent tribal homeland of Bophuthatswana said that a quantity of arms and explosives were seized in the incident, the first in recent months in the area. Police sources said they believe that the weapons were being transported for use against security forces in South Africa's urban black townships.

Lesotho Border Restricted

The South African government acknowledged Saturday that it virtually sealed off the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho last week in what it described as an effort to prevent black guerrillas from infiltrating from there with arms and explosives.

Only Lesotho citizens able to prove they are employed in South African mines or in the country's emergency services were allowed to enter this country, and then they were thoroughly searched by South African troops. The Foreign Ministry said in Pretoria that the government has "confidential information" about a buildup in Lesotho of guerrillas from the African National Congress.

But Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa and is economically dependent on it, said that Pretoria is trying to punish it for its recent complaint to the U.N. Security Council about South African aggression. The complaint was made after a raid in Lesotho two weeks ago, apparently carried out by South African commandos, in which nine South African exiles, most of them members of the African National Congress, were shot and killed.

4 Blacks Killed

Four more people, all blacks, died Saturday in the country's unremitting civil strife, according to national police headquarters in Pretoria.

Police said they shot and killed one man at Dennilton, the main town in the troubled Moutse district, 100 miles northeast of here. Police say that 11 people, including two black police constables, were killed in Moutse last week, but residents of the district put the death total at more than 20.

Reporters were ordered out of the area by police Saturday, and photographers were forced at gunpoint to destroy film they had taken of more than 50 Moutse youths being marched from buses into a police station by heavily armed riot police and combat troops.

Moutse's 120,000 residents, mostly of the Pedi tribe, are protesting the district's incorporation into Kwandebele, the Ndebele tribal homeland, where they fear they will be persecuted as a minority.

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