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URGENT ANC Supporter Hanged on Charge of Murdering Policeman

October 18, 1985

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) _ Benjamin Moloise, a black convicted of killing a police officer and a supporter of the African National Congress, was hanged today despite worldwide appeals for clemency. Two policemen later were stabbed in a clash with hundreds of black mourners, police said.

Moloise, a 30-year-old upholsterer and poet, who claimed his innocence to the end, was hanged at 7 a.m. (1 a.m. EDT) at Pretoria Central Prison.

Moloise’s mother, Mamike, 53, said she was refused entrance to the prison at 6 a.m. today, but marched past the prison gates about an hour later, saying, ″I am prepared to be arrested because that is my son.″

Guards then allowed her in, but Moloise already had been executed. Mrs. Moloise said she was not allowed to see her son, only his closed coffin.

″I did not expect this government to be so cruel,″ said Mrs. Moloise. She said that when she was barred from entering the prison, ″I begged, I said, ’It’s the last time, that’s my son.‴

In downtown Johannesburg, police charged into a crowd of about 300 blacks who were dancing and chanting freedom slogans after holding a memorial service for Moloise. Two policeman was stabbed, one seriously, said city police spokesman Col. Fred Bull.

Some youths pelted the police with small stones. Windows of at least three stores were smashed and one was looted.

Thousands of blacks gathered to watch as police broke up small pockets of people up and down the street. The Moloise family had attended the service.

Moloise was convicted of killing a black policeman, Warrant Officer Philipis Selepe, in 1982. The officer was cut down by automatic weapons fire outside his home in Pretoria.

Moloise admitted he helped plan the killing and was in the area but claimed he merely accompanied the killers to counter their suspicions he was a police agent.

The outlawed African National Congress guerrilla group, which has its headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, says it ordered Selepe slain for his role in arresting guerrilla saboteurs, but Maloise was not the killer.

Moloise’s execution was the fifth of a self-proclaimed supported or member of the ANC, the main guerrilla group fighting the South Africa’s regime.

Mrs. Moloise, her husband, Robert, and three other relatives emerged from the prison singing a protest hymn, with fists raised. Several dozen police with snapping dogs and rifles kept reporters back. No protests developed.

Mrs. Moloise slumped on the shoulder of her lawyer, Priscilla Jana, and was embraced by Winnie Mandela, wife of jailed ANC leader Nelson Mandela.

In an unrelated incident, police today said rioters fired on police and badly wounded a white officer in a gun battle late Thursday in the mixed-race township of Athlone near Cape Town. Police said they returned fire, shooting one rioter to death.

The shooting began when some people emerged from a protest meeting at a mosque, said a reporter at the scene who spoke on condition he not be identified.

On Thursday, Mrs. Moloise said her son had told her that on his way to the gallows he would sing a hymn praising anti-apartheid guerrillas.

Moloise was an unpublished poet, and some of his verse was read aloud by his lawyer at a news conference Thursday. One of his poems ends:

″The storm of oppresion will be followed by the rain of my blood.

I am proud to give my life, my solitary life.″

There were fears the execution would set off more violence against apartheid, the system of race laws that guarantee privilege for South Africa’s 5 million whites and deny rights to its 24 million blacks. More than 750 people already have died in 14 months of unrest, most of them blacks.

A black reporter in Soweto, the township outside Johannesburg, said police today mounted one of their largest security operations since the unrest began in August 1984.

He said dozens of armored police vehicles cruised the streets and stood parked at intersections. Soweto was relatively quiet but extremely tense, the reporter said.

Mrs. Moloise said police fired tear gas to disperse 200 to 300 mourners at an all-night vigil at her home in Soweto.

She met with her son for the last time Thursday night, and said after the 20-minute visit, ″I found him stronger than ever ... ready to die.″

The ANC issued a statement today from Lusaka promising Moloise, ″Your martydom will not be in vain, it will inspire us all.″

Appeals for clemency came from the governments of the United States, France and West Germany, the Common Market, the 49-nation Commonwealth of Britain, the United Nations and last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, South African Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Ms. Jana, Moloise’s lawyer, said Moloise told her at their last meeting Thursday morning: ″We shall overcome, and tomorrow I will spill my blood for those who remained behind.″

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