JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Black nationalist leader Winnie Mandela, in a new challenge to South Africa's minority white government, asked the Supreme Court here Wednesday to declare invalid an order banning her from Johannesburg and restricting her political activities.
Mandela, 49, is asking not only to be allowed to live in her home in Soweto, Johannesburg's black satellite city from which she has been dragged twice recently by security police, but also for the first time in nearly a decade to be permitted to resume her full political activities.
The wife of imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, who is serving a life sentence for sabotage and subversion, Winnie Mandela has emerged increasingly as a major figure in her own right among activists opposing apartheid. A court victory for her would greatly strengthen the anti-apartheid movement here.
Her popularity was clear Wednesday afternoon as several hundred blacks crowded around her, shouting, "Viva Mandela, viva!" and raised clenched fists in salute as she left the courthouse in downtown Johannesburg.
In South Africa's continuing civil unrest, three more blacks were reported killed, and a mine exploded at an electrical transformer in Pretoria, damaging the power substation but causing no injuries.
Further unrest was reported at one of the three platinum mines where 20,000 black miners were fired Monday.
General Mining Union Corp., the parent firm of Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., said that its security personnel fired tear-gas grenades and rubber bullets to disperse miners mobbing one of their vehicles Wednesday. The National Union of Mineworkers, which launched the week-old strike for higher pay and better working conditions, said that 27 miners were injured in the incident, the first violence of the strike.
Some Boycott Classes
Around the country, about half of the 1.8 million urban black schoolchildren returned to classes Wednesday, with the rest defying government calls for an end to the boycott that has closed some black schools for as long as two years.
In some parts of the country, schools were full for the first time in months, but in other places, including Soweto, teachers sat in otherwise empty classrooms.
Job Schoeman, a senior official of the Department of Education and Training, described the turnout as good, saying it always takes several days to register pupils and that full schools in many areas mean that parents and students want to end the boycott. He expressed the government's willingness to enroll those following the strategy laid down last month by the Soweto Parents Crisis Committee for a delayed return to school and an effort to resolve outstanding black grievances through negotiation.
Winnie Mandela went to court determined not only to overturn the order banning her from the Johannesburg area but also to deal a severe blow, if she can, to the government's use of sweeping security legislation to prevent nonviolent opposition to apartheid.
Sydney W. Kentridge, one of South Africa's most distinguished legal advocates, arguing for Mandela, said the government's refusal to provide any reason for the Dec. 21 order prohibiting her from entering the Johannesburg and neighboring Roodeport magisterial districts makes it invalid under the country's security laws.
Police action against her, twice evicting her forcibly from her home with only a few minutes to pack a suitcase and then arresting her to prevent her return, was "so grossly unreasonable as to be inhuman" and contrary to South African law, Kentridge said.
"What is alarming is that the minister is exercising draconian powers, something almost unheard of in keeping a person out of her own home, and then saying, 'I don't have to give a reason,' " Kentridge said. He was commenting on the refusal by Louis le Grange, the minister of law and order, to give any reason, even when asked as part of the lawsuit, for his order.
Justice L.J. le Grange, one of the senior judges on the Transvaal provincial bench of the South African Supreme Court, and not related to the minister of law and order, commented, "Home is the one place a person is entitled to be at all times."
The effect of the order, Kentridge said, is to make Mandela homeless. She fears for her life, he said, if she returns to the small government house in the farming town of Brandfort, 225 miles southwest of Johannesburg, because it was firebombed in August, and she had been given no time to make arrangements to move elsewhere in the country.
If the court rules against Mandela, however, she has decided not to continue defying the order by returning to Soweto, according to a family friend, believing that this demeans her and that she has made her point. Instead, she will seek confrontations in other forums and in other ways and will move into the active leadership of the anti-apartheid movement itself.
Arguments in the case are expected to take all of today and perhaps part of Friday, with Judge Le Grange not making a decision possibly until next week.