JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Black nationalist leader Winnie Mandela called upon South Africa's 25 million blacks Saturday to begin a "direct-action" campaign to bring apartheid to an end and oust the country's minority white government.
"We believe the next phase of our struggle has come," Mandela declared in her most militant speech in recent months, setting a new tone of defiance of the government and rallying blacks to challenge apartheid directly. "No more talking, we are now planning action."
"We are going to physically dismantle apartheid in this country," she told mourners at a funeral for a young black killed in a recent clash with police. "You have been patient for too long. We appreciate that, but now it is time to act.
"There are people here to guide you," Mandela continued. "When the time comes, remember you are disciplined soldiers in an honorable movement. We belong to the African National Congress."
In addressing the 3,000 mourners at the funeral at Brandfort, the small farming community 225 miles southwest of Johannesburg to which she was exiled by the government in 1977, Mandela was at her most defiant as she emerged from more than 23 years of restrictions on her activities.
"The time has come where we must show that we are disciplined and trained warriors," she said. "You will be told when the time has come to take action . . . when we call upon you to go over to that lily-white part of Brandfort and take over that wealth that is rightfully yours and the land that is your birthright."
The wife of Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed African National Congress, Winnie Mandela has been barred from political activities for most of the last two decades, but she has increasingly ignored the restrictions the government has imposed on her. Those orders have now been lifted, according to her lawyers, although the government maintains that they are technically still in effect.
Reminding the crowd that blacks, who are excluded from political power, now outnumber whites in South Africa by five or six to one, Mandela said, "Our people are dying . . . killed by white racists . . . and we are no longer prepared to see one more coffin."
"We no longer come to the funerals of our young heroes to shed tears," Mandela said. "The time for crying is over. We can no longer waste our tears. The struggle cannot be won unless we take direct action against this minority white regime."
Botha Called Terrorist
Noting that her husband and other leaders of the African National Congress are serving life prison sentences for attempting to overthrow white rule, Winnie Mandela denounced President Pieter W. Botha's government as "the real terrorists" and accused the American and British governments of keeping the regime in power.
"All those thugs who are in power today should be behind bars," Mandela declared. "Your freedom is taking so long because (President Ronald) Reagan and (British Prime Minister Margaret) Thatcher are financing Pretoria to keep you exactly where you are." Mandela rejected widespread speculation that the government, as part of its step-by-step reforms, would soon release her husband and other imprisoned black leaders and allow political exiles to return to negotiate the country's future.
"Your leaders will not be liberated by Pretoria," she said as the funeral turned into a black political rally. "You are the ones who must free your leaders, and you can only free them if you take direct action against the Botha regime.
"It has taken us a long way to come to this stage of our struggle," she said. "Life itself is not the price of freedom, for freedom has a higher price."
Two more people were killed Saturday in the continuing civil strife, now in its 20th month.