S. Africa widens area of 'unrest' Zones reflect riots over slain leader

April 16, 1993|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The South African government struggled yesterday to cope with one of its worst crises in years following a day of large-scale boycotts and bloody protests in parts of the country.

As the country mopped up from rioting in several cities, the government said it would declare additional "unrest areas" in which police would be given emergency powers to respond to violence and detain protesters without charge.

Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee attacked the African National Congress (ANC) for not controlling all of its supporters at memorial services Wednesday to mark last Saturday's assassination of popular black leader Chris Hani.

Labor federation leader Jay Naidoo, a close ally of Mr. Hani, said the government was being provocative in light of the intensity of sentiment over Mr. Hani's killing.

"The government is completely unaware of what is going through the minds and souls of most of our people," he said in an interview.

Many supporters of Mr. Hani, a top ANC activist and leader of the South African Communist Party, have expressed anger over his murder and suggested that state security forces might have been involved, a charge the government denies.

In a slap at the ANC, which has appealed repeatedly for its followers to show restraint, Justice Minister Coetsee said the government would not allow "jungle justice" to determine the fate of the man accused of killing Mr. Hani, a right-wing extremist named Janusz Walus.

The justice minister claimed that one ANC official had called for Mr. Walus to be turned over to "the people" for justice.

"Once jungle justice takes root in our society, any hope of a just and peaceful future is unjustified," Mr. Coetsee said at a news conference in Pretoria.

In an official statement, the ANC condemned the violence and looting that occurred in a half dozen cities. Pallo Jordan, an ANC spokesman, congratulated policemen who acted with restraint during Wednesday's marches and rallies.

He said that the violence was largely the action of "unruly elements" but admitted that the ANC had provided inadequate security in some places because it had not expected the huge outpouring of mourners and protesters.

An estimated 1.5 million South Africans took part in memorial services and rallies for Mr. Hani.

Police said 17 people were killed when some of the events turned violent, including four people who died when police in Soweto opened fire on protesters.

Police claimed that they were under attack by protesters, but witnesses, including independent monitors and television crews, said that the shooting was unprovoked.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported yesterday, but most South Africans returned peacefully to work.

The ANC said it believed its supporters had shown discipline XTC and restraint for the most part at the 85 rallies and marches held around the country.

The country remained tense, however, as preparations were being made for Sunday, when Mr. Hani's body would lie in state at a Soweto stadium, and for Monday, when he was scheduled to be buried.

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