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Government Shuts 13 More Black Schools

September 14, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The government on Sunday closed 13 more black high schools, 10 of them in Johannesburg’s Soweto township, saying boycotts had left them with ″virtual zero asttendance.″

That brought to 33 the number of black schools with an estimated enrollment of 25,000 students shut for the rest of the year.

The official Bureau for Information also reported Sunday that two blacks were killed, one by a gang of blacks in a hostel and the other shot by security forces when a group of blacks fired at a patrol near Port Elizabeth.

That brought to 299 the estimated number of people killed in violence since the nationwide state of emergency was imposed on June 12. The government says most were blacks killed by other blacks, not by security forces.

Under the emergency decree, security force actions may not be disclosed, and the bureau has been the sole official source of information on the disturbances.

Braam Fourie, director general of the Department of Education and Training, announced the additional 13 closures a week after black schools opened for the fourth and final term of the year. The additional closures affects an estimated 10,000 students.

″I wish to emphasize once again that this decision is the result of virtual zero attendance and continuous disruption at the affected schools, and that the closure of there schools should not be interpreted as depriving pupils of education opportunities,″ he said.

″Such opportunities have been at the disposal of pupils and communities all along, but have been squandered and rejected in these cases.″

While attendance by black students was reported up in many areas last week, and was well over 80 percent nationwide, boycotts resumed at many high schools, particularly around Johannesburg and Durban.

Boycotting students have called for the withdrawal of troops from school grounds and from the black townships.

Residents said troops and police were absent from school grounds in Soweto and other areas last week for the first time since the emergency was imposed. But that apparent attempt to entice students back to classes was only partially successful.

″There is ... no sense in keeping these schools open for the rest of the year and thereby squander valuable financial resources and teaching manpower,″ Fourie said.

In addition to the 10 schools in Soweto, the government closed Lamontville Secondary School in Lamontville near Durban, and two high schools in Katlehong, southeast of Johannesburg.

Last week, Fourie ordered the closing of 20 schools in several towns in eastern Cape Province, a focus of boycotts throughout two years of racial violence in which more than 2,100 people have been killed.

Boycotts have been common during the turmoil, with 200,000 blacks out of classes at some points.

Fourie’s department administers schools for about 1.8 million blacks, while another 4.2 million attend schools in the 10 homelands administered by tribal governments.