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Boy, 2, and 6 Others Die in S. Africa Strife

January 19, 1988|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A 2-year-old boy was shot to death in his mother's arms and six other people also died as fighting resumed between rival black groups around the South African city of Pietermaritzburg, police reported Monday.

The boy was killed and two women were seriously injured in Greytown, north of Pietermaritzburg, when a group of blacks opened fire on them in the continuing conflict between members of the predominantly Zulu Inkatha political movement and supporters of the United Democratic Front, according to police.

In other incidents in South Africa's strife-torn Natal province, three blacks were fatally stabbed, apparently in a single battle at Mafunzi outside Pietermaritzburg, a 33-year-old man burned to death when his house was firebombed near Greytown and two other men, also blacks, were found dead after clashes elsewhere in the region.

South African police headquarters in Pretoria refused to provide any further details on the incidents--although the death toll was one of the highest in more than a year of bitter fighting in Natal--because of the government's attempts to minimize the continuing political violence there and the apparent inability of its security forces to halt it, despite sweeping powers given them under the 19-month-old state of emergency.

Reporters are prohibited under the country's emergency regulations from reporting incidents of unrest and the security forces' actions to deal with them unless the information has been cleared by police headquarters. This dispatch consequently has been curtailed to comply with official South Africa censorship.

The clashes, which occurred Sunday, ended the 10-day respite that Natal enjoyed after a joint peace call by Inkatha and the United Democratic Front, a coalition of 750 anti-apartheid groups with an estimated 3 million members, and renewed mediation efforts by the predominantly white Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce.

No End to Violence

"We had a lull but, given the tensions here, it was not an end to the violence," the Rev. Peter Kerchhoff, an anti-apartheid activist in Pietermaritzburg, said on Monday. "Even that lull seems to be over, however, and so our 'shantytown war,' as people call it, continues."

According to unofficial tallies by church groups, 53 people have died in political violence around Pietermaritzburg so far this month; 75 died there in December, the worst month so far.

Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, Inkatha's president, blamed the renewed bloodshed on the outlawed African National Congress, accusing it of trying to "eliminate" Inkatha in a struggle for political power in Natal.

"The ANC has orchestrated this battle, not I," he said, noting that 300 people have died in the black ghettos around Pietermaritzburg in the last five months. "There is no doubt in my mind that the ANC has been involved in fomenting violence."

Inkatha was under attack, Buthelezi said, from the ANC and the United Democratic Front, which he described as an ANC surrogate, for its support of a multiracial democracy and a free-enterprise system. The ANC wants a one-party, Marxist, socialist state, and this is the root of most of the violence throughout the country, he argued.

But A. S. Chetty, the United Democratic Front leader in Pietermaritzburg, blamed Inkatha for the continuing violence and called on it to renew the truce the two organizations had proposed earlier this month. "This township violence must be treated as a regional (problem), not a national one, and tackled and resolved as such," Chetty said.

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