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Army Stages Coup in Black S. Africa Area : General Takes Over in Transkei Region, Charges Corruption

December 30, 1987|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The army in the black homeland of Transkei staged a coup today, ousting the recently elected prime minister and accusing her of corruption.

Maj. Gen. Bantu Holomisa, the army commander, announced the coup in a broadcast on Radio Transkei. He declared martial law, suspended the constitution and outlawed political activity.

Holomisa told the South African Broadcasting Corp. that there were no arrests during the takeover and that the ousted prime minister, Stella Sigcau, is "on leave." There were no reports of violence.

Sigcau took office in October after the army intervened to depose her predecessor, George Matanzima, and force eight of his Cabinet ministers to resign.

Matanzima, who had been the homeland's most powerful figure since 1979, was accused of involvement in widespread corruption in the nominally independent homeland on the Indian Ocean coast.

Tourists Reassured

Holomisa told the South African Broadcasting Corp. that he and a military council will rule Transkei temporarily. He said roadblocks were set up but he described the situation as calm and said there is no cause for alarm among the many South African tourists at Transkei beach resorts.

On Radio Transkei, Holomisa was quoted as saying it had been "regrettably established" that Sigcau was "involved in the corruption and bribery which we are fighting and which was practiced by the former ministers that had recently been removed from their posts."

The 50-year-old Sigcau previously served as minister of posts and telecommunications. Her father was a prominent Transkei chief. Upon taking office as the first woman to lead one of South Africa's black homelands, she vowed to combat nepotism and corruption.

Supporters depicted her as Transkei's version of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain, but critics said it would be difficult for a woman to survive as leader in a society traditionally dominated by men.

Transkei is one of four black homelands designated by South Africa as independent but not recognized abroad.

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