JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Police shot 13 blacks to death and at least 70 other people were injured in overnight clashes in Soweto, the government said today. A newspaper said a mob hacked one Soweto councilor to death.
There were unofficial reports from residents, including doctors and clergymen, that 20 people were killed and up to 100 people injured. The violence was the worst reported since a nationwide state of emergency was declared June 12.
Residents said the clashes were linked to efforts by Soweto council police to evict tenants conducting a rent boycott.
The state Bureau for Information said eight of the deaths and most of the injuries occurred Tuesday night when police shot into a crowd from which a hand grenade had been thrown. The grenade injured four police officers, three black and one white.
Barricade at Liquor Store
The bureau said the crowd of about 300 people had gathered about 10 p.m. Tuesday at a flaming barricade outside a liquor store in the black township.
Four other deaths occurred early today when police fired at a group of about 80 people at another barricade, it said. Someone in the crowd fired at the police and injured a black officer, the bureau said but it did not specify whether police had fired first.
"The council police are shooting left and right. They are shooting at everyone, everything," the Sowetan newspaper quoted an unidentified resident as saying.
The Sowetan said a mob hacked Soweto City Councilor Sydenham Mkhwanazi to death, and that the house of another councilor, Sigfriend Manthata, was burned down.
Activist Tours Area
A third councilor, Silas Tshabalala, was shot in the leg when his own guard apparently fired in panic, the newspaper said. Residents and other reporters confirmed the three incidents.
The shootings took place in one of Soweto's poorest neighborhoods, White City.
Anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela toured the neighborhood today and told reporters that many Soweto residents were very upset by the evictions and predicted that the situation will deteriorate.