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Dozens of Black S. Africa Constables Join in Mutiny

December 10, 1987|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Dozens of black constables mutinied against their white commander today and were hit with gunfire and tear gas after they tried to run him down, authorities said.

Seven constables suffered minor injuries in the shootings at Sebokeng, a black township 35 miles south of Johannesburg, police said.

The incident began when about 60 members of the black municipal police force refused their white commander's order that they inspect their vehicles. The constables tried to run the commanding officer down in their cars, police said.

The constables fled in their vehicles but were confronted by a South African police unrest squad, police said.

The constables opened fire, and the police responded with tear gas and buckshot, the police statement said.

Seven constables suffered minor injuries and one police officer received a slight knife wound to his hand, the statement said.

Investigation Begun

Lt. Col. J. M. Labuschange, a police spokesman, said he did not know why the routine inspection order touched off the mutiny. He said an investigation was under way.

Nineteen constables were taken into custody and were being investigated for mutiny, attempted murder and malicious damage to property, police said.

The national police force is predominantly white.

Earlier, security police were fired upon as they approached a shack in a township outside the southern city of Port Elizabeth, police said.

They returned fire and four suspected members of the outlawed African National Congress guerrilla group in the shack were killed, police said. They also said they recovered an AK-47 rifle, a pistol and a hand grenade from the shack.

The ANC is the main guerrilla group fighting to topple South Africa's government and abolish apartheid.

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