JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The government said Friday that South African forces will be confined to their bases in northern Namibia for 60 hours next week so black nationalist guerrillas can withdraw to Angola without confrontation.
Foreign Minister Roelof F. (Pik) Botha said the security forces will remain at their bases from 6 p.m., April 26, until 6 a.m., April 29.
South Africa plans to obtain cassette recordings from Angolan officials in which commanders of the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrillas order their troops to withdraw, said Defense Minister Magnus Malan. The recordings will be broadcast by radio and from loudspeakers on aircraft, he said.
Neither Malan nor Botha said what South Africa would do if insurgents remain in Namibia after April 29. Malan said South Africa's response would depend in part on whether it suspected that SWAPO had established arms caches in Namibia.
Plan for Independence
South Africa says 1,600 guerrillas crossed from Angola into Namibia beginning April 1 in violation of a peace accord that required them to remain at their bases in Angola until mid-May. The accord is linked to a U.N. plan to bring independence to the territory by April, 1990 after 74 years of South African rule.
Territorial officials say 289 guerrillas and 27 security forces members have been killed in fighting since April 1.
Most of the fighting occurred during the first week of April, although three insurgents were reported killed Thursday. The bodies of six guerrillas killed earlier were found Friday, according to Police Commissioner Dolf Gouws, who ordered new searches of all battle sites.
Territorial police said Friday that about 520 guerrillas remained in Namibia, indicating that close to 800 guerrillas have withdrawn.
U.N. forces in northern Namibia have established assembly points where guerrillas can report and obtain safe passage to Angola. Only a handful of insurgents have reported to the checkpoints, with the others withdrawing on their own.
U.N. troops are acting as a peacekeeping force during the one-year plan to conduct free elections leading to Namibia's first independent, black majority-ruled government. The plan called for the orderly, unarmed return of guerrillas in mid-May from bases in Angola and Tanzania.
SWAPO has been fighting for independence since 1966.
Botha said the decision to confine South African forces to base was made after a meeting Thursday involving officials from South Africa, Angola and Cuba, signatories of a regional peace accord last December.
Under the plan, Cuba agreed to withdraw its 50,000 troops from Angola, where they have helped the Marxist government in a war against South African-backed rebels.
Representatives of the three countries agreed that all SWAPO forces should return to bases at least 100 miles inside Angola, Botha said.
The three countries are scheduled to meet again next week in Cape Town, along with U.S. and Soviet observers.