Tutu Visits Crossroads in Bid to End Fighting With PM-Crossroads-Fighting, Bjt
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Thousands of black squatters resumed fierce factional fighting today at the Crossroads settlement near Cape Town. Bishop Desmond Tutu went to the combat zone to try to mediate the conflict.
At least 17 people have been killed in the fighting since Monday and hundreds of shacks have been set ablaze, raising the number of black squatters left homeless in the past three weeks to an estimated 60,000.
Police Lt. Attie Laubscher said the intense, widespread fighting today involved about 3,000 combatants from each faction - one composed mostly of young black anti-apartheid militants and the other of older, more conservative black vigilantes trying to drive them from the area.
The government has long wanted to bulldoze the Crossroads camp 12 miles east of Cape Town. The militants accuse the vigilantes of cooperating with the government in exchange for being allowed to remain.
No new casualty figures were available, but police said hundreds more shacks were set afire in areas formerly controlled by the militants. Laubscher said police tried in vain to negotiate a halt to the battles, then sent in reinforcements and used tear gas in an effort to disperse the fighters.
Laubscher reiterated his denial of allegations that police have aided the vigilantes during the fighting.
Tutu and about 10 other clergymen went to Crossroads and met with leaders of the vigilantes. The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner met earlier in Cape Town with representatives of the militants.
Tutu told reporters after emerging from Crossroads that he hoped to arrange talks between the warring sides on Thursday. He said he saw one man killed in the fighting being carried away by fellow militants and also watched scores of shacks burning.
″It’s like watching the workings of ... a very bad novel coming together,″ Tutu said. ″It is so nightmarish.″
In two separate incidents, one near Crossroads and the other in downtown Cape Town, at least four journalists were detained by security forces. Three were released after warnings and a fourth was arrested, said Capt. Jan Calitz.
Calitz declined to give details about the arrest, but CBS News said one of its cameraman, Dutch citizen Wim de Vos, was arrested in downtown Cape Town for obstructing a policeman and attending an illegal gathering.
George De’Ath, a cameraman wounded at Crossroads on Tuesday, was in extremely critical condition today at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
Television soundman Andile Fosi, who is De’Ath’s partner, said today police stood idly by when he was attacked by vigilantes and delayed treating De’Ath while officers made videotapes of the grave wounds he suffered in fighting at Crossroads.
″They (police) were filming his back, his front, turning him over, while he was unconscious on the ground,″ Fosi said in a telephone interview.
Fosi, who was also injured, and De’Ath were on assignment for the British Independent Telvision News network. Two other journalists suffered gunshot wounds in the arm and were in stable condition.
Also in Cape Town, the three chambers of Parliament resumed debate on proposed tough security laws that would give police broad powers to quell racial unrest.
The white chamber, dominated by the ruling National Party, was certain to adopt the measures, but the Asian and mixed-race chambers pledged to vote against the bills.
Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange today reintroduced the bills in the white chamber without amendments he had agreed to earlier that would have softened some provisions.
President P.W. Botha has said he wants the laws in effect before Monday, when anti-apartheid protests are expected in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Soweto riots. If the bills are defeated by two chambers, Botha could bypass the two houses or declare a new state of emergency.
Under apartheid, some 5 million whites dominate 24 million voteless blacks.
The fighting at the Crossroads camp, a renewal of bloody battles in May, stems from territorial and ideological disputes between the young anti- apartheid militants and the older, more conservative vigilantes.
The vigilantes are loyal to Johnson Ngxobongwana, head of the committee that has controlled the camp since since its founding in 1975. Younger activists have challenged the committee in recent months, accusing it of corruption.