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Black Claims Attack Over Marbles

October 19, 2000

NELSPRUIT, South Africa (AP) _ A black student at a largely white school has accused white pupils of pelting him with stones and pouring paint over him, police said Thursday.

Sakhile Mhlanga, 10, said a group of white students attacked him Tuesday after he picked up a box of marbles. He said the group dragged him to an after-school center, where a teacher forced him to confess he stole the marbles.

Mhlanga said the white children then threw stones at him and poured a bucket of oil paint on his face.

In a statement issued Thursday, the school said the teacher resolved a dispute among the children and sent them home. The statement said Mhlanga did not tell the teacher about the paint.

``It came to light that one of the other children saw the boy removing (typewriter correction fluid) from his suitcase, dabbing himself with it earlier in the day,″ Headmaster Chris Arnold said in the statement.

Police spokesman Theo du Bruyn said information provided by the school prompted police to look into the incident.

The Star newspaper quoted Mhlanga as saying he had been attacked three times since enrolling this year in the largely white Clivia Primary School near Nelspruit, 200 miles northeast of Johannesburg. Mhlanga told the paper he was afraid to return to school.