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Delete Race Data, S. Africans Urged

June 28, 1986|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Religious leaders urged all South Africans on Friday to fight apartheid with its own weapon by refusing to state their race on official documents.

"If done on an increasing scale, this would eventually render the system unworkable," said a resolution adopted at the annual conference of the South African Council of Churches.

Such a mass public action would go "to the root of apartheid" and enable whites who oppose the discriminatory laws to show solidarity with South Africa's 25 million blacks, the council said.

6 More Blacks Killed

The government reported six more blacks killed in unrest, including a Soweto policeman slain along with his dog by attackers who hurled two hand grenades at a black councilor's home he was guarding. It said the other five were burned to death by other blacks.

The deaths raised the official death toll to 72 since a nationwide state of emergency was imposed June 12.

Police said they conducted a house-to-house search for weapons in Nyanga, a black township near Cape Town adjoining the Crossroads squatter camp in which rival black factions have battled in recent weeks.

Four alleged guerrillas of the outlawed African National Congress were indicted for high treason and accused of planning to shoot down South African military aircraft with ground-to-air missiles. They were arrested June 13.

Identity Document Data

The South African Council of Churches, which represents major Protestant denominations other than the Dutch Reformed Church of the dominant Afrikaners, endorsed a campaign against race classification at the end of a weeklong conference in Johannesburg.

Race will not be designated on new national identity documents that will replace "passes" for blacks and separate cards for whites over the next five years. South Africans are required to declare their race on other forms ranging from birth certificates to driving licenses.

The council urged people to erase the final digit, which denotes race, in the numbers of current identity documents for whites, people of mixed race and Indians, and not to state race on any other forms.

"This action goes to the root of apartheid. It is open to any and every adult South African," the resolution said.

Way to Express Solidarity

"It is an internal pressure which does not rely on foreign influence. It is a way for those classified into privileged classes to express solidarity with those oppressed by their classification."

Despite official assertions of a decline in violence under the emergency, curfews have been imposed on black areas around the eastern city of Port Elizabeth and in the northern part of the Orange Free State, and on the entire tribal homeland of Kwandebele.

In addition to a 9 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew in Kwandebele, regulations issued Thursday by its white police chief said no one may "play, loiter or aimlessly remain on any public road."

The curfew exempts commuters, some of whom travel long distances to jobs in white areas.

Press Restrictions

Reports on unrest cannot be gathered independently because of emergency press restrictions. Among the prohibitions are quoting "subversive statements," which are vaguely defined; reporting activities of security forces without official permission, and identifying people detained without charge.

Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi of the Zulu tribe, a moderate black leader, said Friday the emergency will not cure South Africa's problems and called for a constitutional conference including leaders of the African National Congress.

"The only real alternative is an ever-worsening situation in which we will suffer together," He said. Unlike the African National Congress, Buthelezi would settle for a formula short of universal suffrage in South Africa, where blacks outnumber whites 5 to 1.

U.S. Urges Release

In Washington, the State Department said Friday that South Africa should release all trade unionists detained without charges under the emergency decree, or industrial relations could become destabilized.

"On several occasions we have indicated to the South African government publicly and privately that the state of emergency is a serious mistake," spokesman Charles E. Redman told reporters.

He said the department had already noted that "a substantial number" of trade union leaders had been detained and that some had been released recently.

"We urge the release of all remaining trade union officials," he said.

Redman said the United States has praised the 1979 South African labor law reform as a "very significant step on the road away from apartheid."

Sees Good Labor Relations

"Despite the turmoil in South African society, the trade unions and private-sector management, including American companies, have developed generally good and productive relations," he said.

"The detention of trade unionists leaves many workers without their leaders in the workplace and threatens to destabilize and embitter industrial relations," Redman said.

The AFL-CIO estimates that 111 trade unionists have been detained since the state of emergency was imposed June 12 and has launched a campaign to win their release, calling on member unions to send messages to the South African ambassador in Washington.

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