JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Johannesburg's city council voted to end all race segregation in buses, swimming pools and other urban facilities, officials said Wednesday.
The management committee of the country's biggest city, dominated by the ruling white National Party, decided Tuesday night to open recreational facilities immediately to black people, deputy chairman Marietta Marx said.
City bus services, restricted on most routes to whites, Colored (mixed race) and Indians, will admit blacks as soon as formal permission is granted by the city Transportation Board.
"We feel, as the management committee, that we are on the road to a new South Africa. We cannot at this stage take legal action to enforce segregation of facilities," Marx said.
The National Party under new President Frederick W. de Klerk has pledged to do away with much petty race segregation and to give the country's black majority some limited say in central government within five years.
The council's decision followed release of survey results among 88,742 whites in the city. More than 50% favored desegregating buses and recreation centers. Although only 30% favored desegregated pools, they also were included in the council order.
Libraries and local clinics in Johannesburg, which has about 2 million people, are already open to all races.
The government is still enforcing the Group Areas Act, which dictates that all races must live in separate neighborhoods, although it plans to permit a few mixed "gray areas."
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of protesters demanding "justice, peace and freedom" marched Wednesday through an East London seaside resort in what probably was South Africa's largest legal demonstration.
Among those marching in East London was the white managing director of the city's Mercedes-Benz car manufacturing plant and many of the company's black employees, who were given the day off to take part.
Police estimated the crowd at 25,000 to 40,000. The largest previous government-approved rally was a march in downtown Cape Town two weeks ago by 20,000 to 25,000 people.
There have been mass demonstrations across the country since De Klerk announced Sept. 13 that authorities would not break up lawful, peaceful protests.
The East London rally for "justice, peace and freedom" was led by David Russell, the Anglican archbishop of Grahamstown, along with other local clerics and human rights lawyers.
Rally leaders marched to the headquarters of the security police and presented written demands for the release of political prisoners, legalization of banned opposition groups and lifting of the three-year-old state of emergency.