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New Anti-Violence Measures Announced; ANC Says It’s Not Enough

September 15, 1990

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Police on Saturday announced ″iron fist″ measures intended to halt savage street fighting that has killed almost 800 blacks. But the African National Congress called them too little, too late.

The measures include curfews, roadblocks and the deployment of more police and soldiers in black townships plagued by almost five weeks of violence, Maj. Gen. Gerrit Erasmus told a news conference.

ANC leader Nelson Mandela has repeatedly called for stronger government action, including use of the military, to quell the unrest.

After meeting Friday with President F.W. de Klerk, Mandela accused the government of instigating the fighting and warned of civil war if it continued.

″Mr. Mandela wants an iron fist - we will give an iron fist,″ Erasmus said Saturday. ″Iron Fist″ is the operation’s code name.

He said razor wire would be placed around migrant worker hostels and squatter camps, flashpoints for much of the fighting. Anyone entering or leaving the compounds would be searched for weapons, Erasmus said.

Police vehicles would have machine guns installed on top to protect officers from attacks by blacks with assault rifles, the official said. Police patrols already carry sub-machine guns in addition to shotguns.

The government last month sent police and army reinforcements into the townships and imposed emergency regulations. But the violence raged on and has spread into Johannesburg itself.

Almost all the fighting occurs at night, when there are virtually no police patrols in the townships. The main combatants are Zulus loyal to the conservative Inkatha movement and Xhosas and other blacks who support Mandela’s ANC.

Police said Saturday the townships were quiet. However, Associated Press staffers witnessed an unarmed black being stoned, stabbed and then burned to death at a train station in Soweto on Saturday morning. The attackers said they were supporters of the ANC and the victim was a Zulu who backed Inkatha.

Mandela told a news conference later Saturday he believed the new police measures would be ″totally ineffective.″

He noted more than 700 blacks had been killed in the fighting since Aug. 12, but the new measures came after attacks in recent days that killed several police officers, including two whites.

″If these two policemen had not died, I can assure you, the government would not have come out with these measure,″ Mandela said.

″It looks like the government is arming itself to deal with the liberation movement,″ he said, adding that other countries used water cannon and tear gas, not live ammunition, to control crowds.

Asked who he thought was behind recent attacks on blacks in train stations and townships, Mandela said ″certain state agencies″ were involved. ″The security forces are suspect,″ he said.

He gave no indication the ANC intends to reverse its decision last month to suspend its 29-year armed struggle against the government. But he said people have the right to be armed to defend themselves in their homes.

Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said Saturday he believes the primary cause of the violence is the ″ANC’s decades-long calls on South Africans to kill for political purposes.″

The ANC and Inkatha, the two main black opposition groups, blame each other for the violence. Both oppose apartheid but differ over tactics and plans for a future South Africa.

Black leaders also have charged that a secret ″third party″ - possibly right-wing whites - has taken part in attacks on blacks.

Right-wing whites have rejected de Klerk’s reform efforts and threatened armed struggle against attempts to end white domination in South Africa.

De Klerk said Friday that unidentified groups were attempting to sabotage government efforts to end apartheid and draw up a new constitution free of racial discrimination.

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