Black South African guerrilla faction vows new attacks on white civilians

December 02, 1992|By New York Times News Service

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A small black guerrilla faction warned yesterday that its attack on a golf club Saturday night marked the beginning of a new campaign against white civilian targets, evidently aimed at disrupting a compromise on South Africa's political future.

But the government and the leading black organization, Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, fiercely condemned the attack in King William's Town, which left two couples dead and 17 people wounded at a wine tasting where much of the town's white gentry had gathered.

"There will be more attacks of this nature with more frequency, especially in white areas," Johnny Majozi, the information officer of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, told the South African Press Association from his base in Harare, Zimbabwe.

"We would like to remind white South Africans that there is a war going on inside the country and they should not be surprised."

The attack, believed to be the worst political violence against white civilians since President F. W. de Klerk took office in 1989, has generated horror and alarm among whites. It was the kind of indiscriminate violence that has become commonplace in black communities, but has left whites untouched.

The Conservative Party, which has vehemently opposed Mr. de Klerk's dealings with the black majority, issued a scathing statement calling for a police crackdown and blaming the killings on "terrorists permitted to operate freely in South Africa by a government that has lost the will to govern."

So far, the theme has not been picked up by more mainstream whites.

"My guess is that this poses no short-term threat to the transition, any more than incidents of violence emanating from the far right pose a threat," said John Kane-Berman, director of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

"But if attacks like this continue and the government is unable to stop them, it helps to erode the government's support base and its room for maneuver. And it undermines public confidence in a political settlement."

The APLA is the guerrilla wing of the Pan Africanist Congress, a political party that broke away from the ANC in 1959 to pursue a more militant ideology rooted in black consciousness.

In contrast to the ANC, the PAC has insisted on maintaining an active military wing until blacks are in power. Until recently, it has refused to negotiate with the white government.

Recently, leaders of the militant group have met with government officials and said they were willing to join the multiparty negotiations on a new political order.

It was not clear why the organization's armed wing would simultaneously be seeking to undermine the talks, but it has a long history of bitter internal divisions.

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