Mandela, Zulu chief separately call for end to factional township violence

December 13, 1990|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

THOKOZA, South Africa -- Nelson Mandela and Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi came to this scarred black township yesterday to try to quell the factional violence that has ripped it apart.

But instead of presenting a united front for peace, the two leaders arrived separately and spoke at highly partisan events. Mr. Buthelezi's followers came armed with spears, sticks, shields and battle axes. About 2,000 listened to their leader blame the African National Congress for the violence.

Thousands of Mr. Mandela's backers waved ANC flags at a rally in a squatter camp where hundreds of shacks have been burned during raids. Residents blamed Zulus for the attacks and sang songs denigrating Mr. Buthelezi.

Thokoza, about 30 miles southeast of Johannesburg, has become one of the worst battlefields in this year's bloody clashes between supporters of the ANC and Mr. Buthelezi's Inkatha organization.

Police say 124 people have been killed since renewed fighting erupted 12 days ago in the township, the site of bloody factional fighting in August and September.

Army troops were sent in to restore calm, and dozens of tanks were positioned along the streets and at flash points such as the squatter camp entrances and the migrant-worker hostel where thousands of Zulus live. Much of the fighting has pitted the Zulu hostel dwellers against residents of the massive Phola Park squatter camp.

Mr. Buthelezi called for calm and said violence would not solve the country's problems, but then he remarked about the right of Zulus to carry "traditional weapons" and told his followers they had the right to fight.

"When I appeal to you to seek peace and to stop the violence, I am not taking away from you the inalienable right to defend yourselves," he said. Hostel dwellers have consistently said they are defending themselves when they launch offensive attacks on the squatter camp.

Mr. Buthelezi was accompanied by South African Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok, who flew the Zulu leader into Thokoza in a police helicopter and escorted him to the rally under heavy police protection.

The Buthelezi trip was hastily arranged after the Zulu leader refused to come to the township with Mr. Mandela and a group of church leaders and foreign diplomats.

The Mandela visit was arranged by the South African Council of Churches, which also invited Mr. Buthelezi. But the Zulu leader said he was too busy with government business in the KwaZulu homeland, where he is chief executive.

He said plans for the church-sponsored mission "were drawn up without any reference to me or any discussions with me about my availability for such a tour."

Mr. Buthelezi said he was forced to decline because of time pressures, but he decided to come early in the morning with Mr. Vlok so that he could return to KwaZulu in time for an important meeting later in the day.

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