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Mixed-Race Romance Still Front-Page News in South Africa

February 2, 1988

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Since reports last week that police had escorted a white woman from her boyfriend’s home in a black township, the interracial couple’s stormy love affair has been front-page news.

The Star of Johannesburg, the country’s largest-circulation daily, featured the couple kissing in a front-page picture today, a day after reporting that the two had reunited and planned to marry.

″I couldn’t believe she came back to me, I had been sick with worry and tension,″ the paper today quoted 23-year-old Jerry Tsie as saying about Annette Heunis. ″Wedding bells will ring for South Africa’s Romeo and Juliet,″ said The Star in a story atop its front page on Monday.

Interracial relationships are rare in South Africa. By law and custom, apartheid establishes a racially segregated society in which the 25.6 million blacks have no vote in national affairs. The 5 million whites control the economy and maintain separate districts, schools and health services.

The Star and a major black-oriented daily, The Sowetan, reported Monday Ms. Heunis had returned to Kutlawanong, the black township from which she had been escorted by police, and planned to marry Tsie in November, when she turns 21.

The reunion Sunday came eight days after Miss Heunis, accompanied by policemen, left Kutlawanong for the adjoining white town of Odendaalsrus in the Orange Free State, the most conservative of South Africa’s four provinces.

″I left the township because my feelings about Jerry and my responsibility towards my father were very confused,″ The Star quoted her as saying. ″After eight days, I decided my place was with Jerry.″

The couple met last year when Tsie, a martial arts instructor, brought some film to be developed at the photo shop where Miss Heunis worked. They started dating secretly after he brought her a Valentine’s Day card.

Miss Heunis said she was disowned by her father when she decided to move with Tsie into his mother’s home in Kutlawanong.

Prior to Sunday’s reunion, Tsie was quoted as saying he thought his fiance had been kidnapped and was being kept against her will in Odendaalsrus. He said police told him he would be charged with trespassing if he tried to visit her.

Marriage and sexual relations across color lines were legalized in South Africa two years ago. But such relationships are still viewed as controversial in many parts of the country, and couples who marry are faced with racial laws restricting where they can live and how they can educate their children.

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