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Police Kill Two Blacks, Fire in Shantytown ADDS byline

October 8, 1985

Police Kill Two Blacks, Fire in Shantytown ADDS byline. LEADS throughout to UPDATE, raising death toll to four; fire in squatter camp; nationwide anti-apartheid prayer day scheduled. No pick-up.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Police said today they shot and killed two black rioters after a mob threw gasoline bombs at a truck in a black squatter camp near Cape Town.

A fire later swept through the Cross Roads camp, leaving an estimated 1,000 people homeless, but a black community leader said it appeared the blaze was caused by an accident with a cooking stove.

Elsewhere in the country, two more blacks were killed in other protesdts against apartheid, according to police reports.

In the Cross Roads shootings, police said they opened fire when blacks heaved gasoline bombs at a privately owned truck. Two people were killed and two others were wounded, the police said in a statement on disturbances. The statement did not say when the shootings occured, but the report covered events between sundown Monday and after daybreak today.

After the shootings, a fire broke out and burned today for three hours in Cross Roads, where 50,000 people live in flimsy shanties jammed closely together. Camp residents formed bucket brigades and managed to extinguish the fire by pouring dirt on it, witnesses said.

The witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said soldiers and police squads normally assigned to Cross Roads for riot duty retreated from the fire. Fire-fighting units arrived more than an hour after the blaze began and were unable to navigate through the tiny, twisting alleys in Cross Roads, the witnesses said.

Jerry Tutu, a black community leader, said the fire apparently started when a women tried to light a little kerosene cooking stove. Tutu said no deaths had been reported in the blaze, but he estimated that it left about 1,000 people homeless. The Western Cape Development Board, a government agency, sent tents to Cross Roads to shelter the homeless.

Meanwhile, police and the army braced for a nationwide day of prayer scheduled for Wednesday, when anti-apartheid groups hope that thousands of workers and students will attend services calling for the end of white- minority rule.

This would be the first anti-apartheid job walk-out since last November, when a two-day wildcat strike paralyzed the industrial heartland around Johannesburg.

Under the apartheid system of racial segregation, 5 million whites rule 24 million blacks, denying them the vote and other rights.

The two deaths reported before the Cross Roads shootings occurred in other parts of the country. Police said the body of a young black woman was found Monday in Motherwell in eastern Cape Province under a heap of burning tires, a method often used by black mobs to kill suspected informers.

A black man was reported killed when crowds stoned police vehicles near Witbank, east of Johannesburg. A white post office driver was seriously injured in Witbank when blacks stoned his truck and he lost control of the vehicle.

More than 750 blacks have died in anti-apartheid violence that began in September 1984, according to a tally based on figures kept by the South African Institute of Race Relations, an independent monitoring group.

Police say about a third of the dead were killed in black mob violence against blacks viewed as sell-outs to white rule or in fights between rival anti-apartheid groups. The rest were killed by police and the army.

In part of a gradual desegregation of some public facilities, the government announced Monday that it would begin allowing people of all races into some movie theaters previously reserved for whites.

Piet Badenhorst, deputy planning minister, issued a statement that the Cabinet decided to approve applications from operators to desegregate downtown movie houses in some cities, and that other applications from drive-in owners also would be considered.

The government action added cinemas to the list of stage theaters, hotels, restaurants, beaches and other public facilities that are being gradually desegregated.

Most blacks have been unable to attend movies. Johannesburg has several theaters for them, but there are few in black townships.Soweto, the largest township of nearly 1.5 million outside Johannesburg, has only one.

The government also announced Monday that it was allocating the equivalent of $240 million to aid victims of the worst economic slump since the 1930s.

Manpower Minister Piet du Plessis said much of the money will go for projects in which unemployed people of all races will build dams and roads, clean canals and set up urban recreation areas for daily wages of up to $1.60.

About 2 million South Africans are unemployed, or 17 percent of the labor force, according to government figures. Private sources say the figure is far higher because many jobless workers do not register with the government.

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