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Gold Mine Strike Worsens, U.S. Envoy Warns of Sanction Threat

February 26, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ About 19,000 black workers at the world’s second-largest gold mine were on strike Wednesday after management rejected their demand to release jailed co- workers, the miner’s union said.

Anglo-American Corp., which owns the Vaal Reefs gold mine 100 miles west of Johannesburg, put production losses from the strike at $3 million. About 12,000 miners walked off the job when the strike began Monday.

The company said only 11,000 of the mine’s 40,000 employees failed to show up for work Wednesday.

The National Union of Mineworkers, South Africa’s largest black union, said the workers demand the release of nine colleagues arrested after last week’s murder of four black supervisors at the mine.

The background to the killings at Vaal Reefs, which produces about 13 percent of South Africa’s gold, has not been disclosed.

Gold mines in the rich belt west of Johannesburg have had periodic work stoppages recently but the companies claim they involve various factions among the miners and are not related to the violent campaign against apartheid.

In Johannesburg, the U.S. ambassador warned South Africa to lift the state of emergency it imposed last July to quell racial turmoil or pressure in Congress for added sanctions ″is going to be tremendous.″

Addressing an industrial relations seminar, U.S. Ambassador Herman W. Nickel said Washington remained opposed to additional sanctions against South Africa, but in this congressional election year might have ″to adopt a tough posture - if only to avoid the stigma of being ’soft on racism.‴

The Reagan administration has imposed limited trade sanctions against South Africa, including a ban on the purchase of Kruggerand gold coins.

Nickel praised reforms such as the promised abolition July 1 of laws restricting the movements of blacks, and the pledge to restore South African citizenship to blacks who lost it under apartheid laws.

But Nickel, an influential voice in formulating Washington’s South Africa policy, said the state of emergency might negate the impact of the reforms.

He said that as long as blacks faced ″Casspirs (police armored cars) and tear-smoke, it will be difficult for this government to put itself across as a government of reform.″

In another development, a government minister told parliament in Cape Town Wednesday that he favored scrapping the Separate Amenities Act, which segregates public places by race.

Instead, local authorities and shopowners should be free to set their own policy, Piet Badenhorst, deputy minister of constitutional development and planning, told the mixed-race House of Representatives.

Badenhorst, a white, said the repeal of the law was already being investigated by the President’s Council, a multi-race advisory body that seeks ways of smoothing interracial coexistence.

The act segregates public toilets, cinemas, restaurants, airports, beaches and scores of other public facilities. Some cities have passed ordinances that in effect ignore the act and open amenities to all races.

Meanwhile, police reported two blacks killed - a man described as an African National Congress fighter shot dead by police in Johannesburg’s black Soweto district Wednesday and a man killed when black rioters threw a fire bomb into a bus.

In Soweto, detectives raided a house and shot dead a man holding a grenade, police said, adding that the man fell on the grenade, which exploded under him.

The man was ″a trained member″ of the ANC, police said.

Earlier, police said rioting flared in the black township of Tembisa, and a man was killed when youths hurled a gasoline bomb into a bus.

Since 1961, the outlawed ANC has waged a sabotage war against the white- controlled government and against apartheid, the policy of racial segregation under which 5 million whites dominate 24 million voteless blacks.

More than 1,100 people, nearly all of them black, have been killed in almost daily anti-apartheid rioting since September 1984, private monitoring groups say.

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