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12 More Die in Black Feuding in S. Africa

February 16, 1988|From Reuters

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Vicious weekend fighting among blacks in South Africa's Natal province claimed 12 victims, and prospects for an end to the feuding appeared to dim.

A 61-year-old woman's throat was slit, a 15-year-old boy was gunned down and an elderly couple were stabbed to death in the latest violence, police said Monday.

Prospects for a reconciliation between the combatants--the radical United Democratic Front and the conservative Zulu Inkatha movement--appeared as elusive as ever.

A police report said 10 people died Sunday and two on Saturday.

More than 400 people have been killed over the past year as a result of a political feud that has terrorized townships near the provincial capital, Pietermaritzburg.

No Hint of Conciliation

Zulu chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi said in a letter to UDF leader Archie Gumede that the two sides have an obligation to try to end the strife but that he could detect no hint of conciliation from the United Democratic Front.

He said he had received a message from Gumede but added: "I have read every word of your

'Pathetically Shouting'

"When people are dying the kind of hideous deaths they are in Pietermaritzburg and elsewhere, we have a responsibility to attempt to do something about it," Buthelezi said, adding:

"Men, women and children are being butchered. Apartheid continues to kick us in the guts. And yet, we are pathetically shouting at each other."

In the report that indicated feuding was spreading from the Pietermaritzburg area, police said the elderly couple had been stabbed at Taylor's Halt township.

In the same township, they found the 61-year-old woman with her throat cut and the body of a 27-year-old man who had been knifed.

The bodies of two youths aged 15 and 18 were found riddled with bullets in neighboring Shongweni township, police said, without indicating whether the victims were members of the rival groups or residents caught up in the fighting.

House Firebombed

In an outbreak of fighting at KwaDengezi about 30 miles south of Pietermaritzburg, police said three women and a man were killed in a hail of bullets after their house was firebombed.

Mediation efforts and police reinforcements have failed to check the fighting, rooted in differences between the United Democratic Front and Inkatha on how best to fight apartheid.

Meanwhile, South Africa's biggest black labor federation said Monday that it has launched a campaign to try to prevent the government from passing a law seriously eroding the rights of emergent black trade unions.

"A mass campaign has been started to pressurize the government not to pass the Labor Relations Amendment bill, which is a radical attack on the right of trade unions," the 350,000-member Congress of South African Trade Unions said in a statement.

The proposed new law contains controversial clauses that would define more narrowly the rights of workers to hold legal strikes and make it more difficult for fired workers to claim unfair dismissal.

Sabotage Network

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe on Monday said it had smashed a South African sabotage network responsible for a seven-year campaign of bombings and assassination attempts.

A statement issued in Harare by Foreign Minister Nathan Shamuyarira for the first time directly accused South Africa of a car bomb attack on a house in the southern city of Bulawayo, in which one person was killed.

The statement broke a monthlong government silence on the investigation of a group of Zimbabweans arrested after the Jan. 12 bombing, which destroyed a house used by the African National Congress, the outlawed South African black nationalist organization.

Six men, all but one of them white, were remanded by a Harare magistrate last Friday on murder and sabotage charges linked to the Bulawayo bombing.

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