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Police Block Mandela Talk at University

May 04, 1987|United Press International

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Riot police moved in today with tear gas and whips just before Winnie Mandela was to speak at an illegal university rally to protest Wednesday's whites-only election. At least 120 youths, both black and white, were arrested.

The crackdown by more than 200 police officers marked the second time in four days that authorities have gone onto the campus of the University of Witwatersrand to break up protests. It also was the latest in a series of police clashes with students around the country.

Police, in a convoy of yellow armored personnel carriers, mounted four separate assaults on groups of students and university staff. American and British television cameramen and photographers were arrested along with the students.

Network Crews Detained

All three American networks--CBS, ABC and NBC--said their crews were detained. British-based Visnews journalists were also taken into custody.

The journalists were released after about an hour. Police confiscated film and videotapes but allowed reporters to keep their equipment after taking down their names and addresses.

Student leaders, backed by about 40 lecturers, decided later at a meeting to support a two-day class boycott in protest against the election.

The police acted to prevent an anti-election rally that was to have been addressed by Mandela, wife of jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela.

Mandela Cheered

More than 6,000 students, many on rooftops and balconies, cheered Mandela as she arrived about half an hour after police informed university authorities that the protest had been declared illegal.

Police marched onto the campus as Mandela prepared to go ahead with her address. An officer, speaking through a bullhorn, told students: "This is an illegal gathering. You must disperse."

Officers wearing helmets and carrying shields, shotguns, whips and batons charged into the crowd.

Groups of students, including black and white women, were whipped. Tear gas was fired onto the university lawn and police followed hundreds of students into a hall, where they began arresting them.

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