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Two More Deaths In Racial Unrest; Toll Approaches 200 In 8 Months

March 5, 1985

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Black rioters clashed with police in the eastern Cape Province and two blacks were killed, police said today.

Meanwhile, a private monitoring organization reported the death toll in eight months of rioting in white-ruled South Africa has risen to nearly 200, and might be considerably higher.

Police spokesman Col. Vic Haynes said groups of black rioters clashed with police in the black township outside Fort Beaufort, 80 miles from East London on the Indian Ocean. A black man was found dead in a home burned down by rioters.

In Langa, the black township outside Uitenhage near Port Elizabeth in the same region, a black woman was dead on arrival at a hospital after police used birdshot against rioters there, Haynes said.

A researcher for the South African Institute of Race Relations said at least 165 people were killed in riot incidents in 1984. All the victims were black except a white infant killed by a rock thrown through a car window.

At least 31 blacks have been killed in 1985, said the researcher, who asked not to be identified by name. Including the two deaths Monday not yet counted by the institute, the total would be at least 198.

Lt. Col. Leon Mellet, spokesman for Minister of Law and Order Louis le Grange, said an official total would be disclosed in Parliament soon in reply to a member’s query.

The researcher said her figures are based on newspaper clippings citing deaths confirmed by police.

Noting that some relatives of black riot victims have said they did not report casualties for fear of reprisals, the researcher added, ″I’m sure there are lots of deaths that haven’t been reported anywhere. I couldn’t begin to guess how many.″

The rioting broke out last August over a variety of issues, including inferior black schools and rent hikes in black townships. Black activists say the white-led government’s continued denial of citizenship rights for the nation’s 22 million blacks was an underlying factor.

The worst unrest occurred from September through November, focused around Johannesburg. After a brief calm in December and January, violence resumed last month - increasingly in rural black townships that are usually trouble- free.

In 1976, school boycotts in Soweto, Johannesburg’s huge black township, erupted into months of violence that left at least 575 dead, according to government figures.

Blacks have attributed this year’s lower death toll in part to restraint by police and more use of rubber bullets and low-charge birdshot, rather than shotguns and rifles. But government officials have said they regard the last few months of unrest as seriously as the 1976 rioting because it has involved a wider spectrum of blacks, including adults as well as youths.

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