JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The government today said it will withdraw charges against black activist Winnie Mandela, who was arrested twice in December for defying a ban on entering the Johannesburg area.
A government prosecutor, K. Von Lieres und Wilkau, said he plans to withdraw the charges Wednesday when Mandela is scheduled to appear in Krugersdorp Regional Court, west of Johannesburg.
Mandela, 50, the wife of jailed black guerrilla leader Nelson Mandela, is appealing the validity of the Dec. 22 government order that bars her from the Johannesburg magisterial district. Her home is in the black township of Soweto within the district.
Wilkau said he decided to drop the charges against Mandela after she filed the appeal. He said because he is withdrawing the charges, she does not have to appear in court Wednesday.
No Explanation of Ban
The government has not said why it issued the ban, which replaced an earlier government order restricting her to the Orange Free State town of Brandfort. The governing National Party, in power since 1948, routinely deals with its opponents by restricting their movement or jailing them without charges.
Mandela flouted the Dec. 22 order the night it was served by going to her house. Police forced her to leave, kicking and screaming.
On Dec. 30, she set out for her home but was arrested seconds after the car in which she was riding entered the bounds of the Johannesburg magisterial district.
Meanwhile today, soldiers in armored personnel carriers and on foot moved cautiously into Alexandra, the black township where the government said 19 people have been killed and 37 wounded in three days of rioting.
Police Count Exceeded
The casualty toll, announced in Parliament by Adriaan Vlok, deputy minister of law and order, exceeded the latest police count of 10 dead in Alexandra, located among the affluent white suburbs of Johannesburg.
However, Mike Beea, chairman of the Alexandra Civic Assn., said he feared that at least 30 people died. The Rev. Allan Boesak, an anti-apartheid leader who was blocked from entering the black township because he is of mixed race, said, "As many as 300 have been injured and scores have died."
The Rev. Beyers Naude, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, said Alexandra residents told him that 300 people were wounded, "of whom as many as 80 may have died."
Police banned reporters from the area, and the conflicting reports could not be independently verified.