Wider violence menaces whites, Mandela warns

May 17, 1991|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela warned yesterday that violence would spread to white sections of South Africa if the government does not act decisively to stop the carnage in black townships.

Mr. Mandela, deputy president of the African National Congress, urged his supporters not to attack white areas because "there are many innocent people there who have nothing to do with the violence."

But he told mourners in Kagiso township at a memorial service for victims of a massacre last weekend, "The government must know that as long as it allows this violence to continue . . . there is a danger that this violence might spread to the white areas."

The ANC has repeatedly criticized the government for failing to disarm township combatants, especially supporters of the Zulu-based Inkatha movement who have been waging war against ANC supporters.

Inkatha supporters often attend rallies and public gatherings carrying sticks, spears and other dangerous weapons.

Law enforcement authorities do not interfere because the government has taken the position that the weapons are part of "Zulu tradition and culture."

"We are putting tremendous pressure on the government to ban the carrying of spears and sticks in public," Mr. Mandela said. "And there must be no doubt whatsoever that if the government does not ban the carrying of sticks and spears, there is no question of negotiation in this country."

The ANC has threatened to pull out of power-sharing negotiations with the white-minority government, but two deadlines it imposed have passed without the threats being carried out.

In an apparent response to the ANC's ultimatums, Constitution Minister Gerrit Viljoen said that the ANC should stop bickering about details and face up to its own responsibility to address the issue of violence.

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