Black gunmen kill S. African white in rush hour Right-wing whites begin to hit back

March 23, 1993|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau

JOHNANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A white businessman was killed yesterday in a racially tense region south of here as a new wave of violent attacks by blacks against whites rocked South Africa.

It was the fifth such killing in the country since Friday. Police said they suspected responsibility lay with the Azanian People's Liberation Army, the radical black group that claimed responsibility for similar attacks last December and proclaimed 1993 would be a year of terror for whites.

The killings were the latest in a long series of ugly developments that have threatened South Africa's uncertain march toward democracy. Thousands of blacks also have been killed in political violence that has sometimes brought the march to an abrupt halt as political groups accuse one another of fueling the fighting.

Yesterday, Tony Concer, 55, was killed when four black men jumped in front of a car in which he was riding and opened fire with automatic rifles outside the town of Vanderbijlpark, according to the car's driver, Daniel de Bruin.

The attack came one day after a white college student was killed in an ambush near Port Elizabeth in the southeastern part of the country, and two days after a woman and her 14-year-old son were killed in a highway attack near Walkerville, south of here. A third victim of that shooting, 13-year-old Claire Silberbauer, died Sunday night of her wounds.

The gunmen in all of shootings were black, and all of the ambushes happened in broad daylight. The latest killing took place in rush-hour traffic.

Right-wing whites began to strike back, threatening to destroy black squatter areas in retaliation for every white child killed. A 5-year-old black

girl was shot and wounded Sunday, and an ultra-right group known as the White Wolves claimed responsibility yesterday.

Also, about 400 members of the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement blocked traffic yesterday on the highway between Johannesburg and Vereeniging, where several attacks on whites have taken place. They carried signs threatening to wipe out black squatter camps and "exterminate APLA rats."

"This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs," said Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel, who visited the scene of the first killing near Walkerville.

He tried to reassure whites that police would increase security in the tense area, and he said President F. W. de Klerk's Cabinet would meet tomorrow to decide what steps to take against the Azanian People's Liberation Army, the guerrilla wing of the Pan Africanist Congress.

The Pan Africanist Congress is one of 26 political organizations trying to conduct negotiations on South Africa's future. The talks are aimed at establishing a democratic government to replace the apartheid system, in which the nation's 30 million blacks have been denied a vote.

Mr. Kriel blasted the congress yesterday, saying, "One cannot negotiate and at the same time kill people at a four-way stop." But PAC spokesman Barney Desai said his organization was not responsible for the attack.

"It's not our policy to conduct a race war against whites, and we don't know who these guys are," he said.

His statement was the first categorical denial by the Pan Africanist Congress that its operatives were attacking whites, but it was issued at the same time militant young members were cheering the attacks.

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