Four Die in Latest Violence; Marches, Rallies on Sharpeville Day
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Blacks sang and raised clenched fists today at the site of the Sharpeville massacre, staging one of several rallies marking the 32nd anniversary of the incident that escalated the anti-apartheid struggle.
But black factional violence also continued, taking the lives of four more blacks, police said today.
A rally by the African National Congress started this morning in Sharpeville, where 69 blacks died on March 21, 1960 when police opened fire on a crowd of thousands.
The killings in the township south of Johannesburg drew international attention and helped intensify the fight against the white-led government’s policy of racial separation. Anti-apartheid groups want the day declared a national holiday.
About 1,000 ANC supporters today sang freedom songs and raised clenched fists outside the police station where the massacre occurred. They then marched to the rally site.
ANC president Nelson Mandela failed to appear at a Sharpeville Day rally in the Nyanga township of Cape Town . ANC officials said Mandela, 73, was tired from a hectic schedule in recent days and was cutting back his appearances on doctor’s orders. They said he would address another rally later Saturday in the Khayelitsha township.
Also today, more than 3,000 supporters of the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party, most armed with spears and clubs, prepared to hold a peace march through Johannesburg to the central police station. Armed police and soldiers patrolled the march route.
Police said that in the last 24 hours two blacks were killed in attacks on commuter trains and the bodies of two men with gunshot wounds were found in Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg.
Township violence increased dramatically during the recent run-up to the whites-only referendum on ending apartheid. White voters supported de Klerk’s reforms by a 2-1 margin in the referendum Tuesday.
Thousands of blacks have died in recent years in township violence, mostly in factional fighting between the ANC and Inkatha, the two main black groups.
Both groups oppose apartheid but have deep ideological and tribal differences.
The ANC has accused security forces and right-wing elements of instigating black factional fighting to undermine the black opposition movement. The government denies security force involvement.