AP NEWS
Related topics

While Leaders Talk Peace, War Goes On With AM-South Africa-Zulus, Bjt

April 20, 1994

TOKOZA, South Africa (AP) _ Black smoke rose from a barricade of burning tires as Jabu Moshoeshoe predicted the future of his rivals in this battle-ravaged township.

″Those gentlemen there are going to be dead before elections,″ said the African National Congress supporter, drawing a finger across his throat.

A hundred yards away, Inkatha Freedom Party supporter Robert Mandla made a similarly violent forecast.

″We are going to get revenge against the ANC,″ he said. ″We’ve got hands, just as they have hands.″

Despite Tuesday’s agreement between leaders of the rival ANC and Inkatha, the fighting that has plagued Tokoza for more than three years seems set to continue.

Zulu nationalist Inkatha agreed to take part in South Africa’s first all- race election next week, ending a boycott that set off deadly unrest in the Johannesburg area and the eastern province of Natal, which includes the traditional Zulu homeland.

But resolution of the election dispute mattered little to people living in the no man’s land in Tokoza, a strip of burned-out houses and silent shops between Inkatha-dominated workers’ dormitories and ANC neighborhoods.

They blamed their rivals for all the problems, as well as police, soldiers and a new national peacekeeping force created to work in trouble spots where distrust of security forces lingers from the apartheid era.

″The main problem is with the ANC,″ said Mandla, 38, who has lived in Mshayezafe Hostel No. 3 for eight years. ″The fighting won’t stop, because the ANC is using peacekeeping forces to attack the hostel.″

He stood next to a burned-out corner room pocked with bullet holes from ANC attacks during a day of gunbattles. Moses Sibiya, who lived in the room, said all his clothes and his identification card were burned.

″I won’t be safe here, never,″ said Sibiya, 22. ″They’ll come and shoot tonight.″

Mandla said the dispute involved abandoned houses across Khumalo Street, which runs past the hostel. ANC supporters used to live in the houses but fled during the years of fighting. Now they are trying to get the houses back.

Eighteen armored South African military trucks stood in Khumalo Street on Tuesday to separate the combatants after three days of fierce clashes that killed at least a dozen people, including photographer Ken Oosterbroek of the Star newspaper. Scores more were injured.

A short walk from the hostel, ANC youths lit the gasoline-soaked tires that mark their territory.

″Before elections, that hostel will be demolished, flat,″ said Moshoeshoe, a frail 19-year-old. Inkatha supporters attacked the ANC area to drive people off and gain territory, he and his comrades said.

″The hostel dwellers are shooting; we are just responding,″ said a man who called himself Bafano Dlongamandla, an obviously fake name that drew loud laughs from a crowd of friends. ″There is no peace in Tokoza until the hostels are gone.″

The Internal Stability Unit, a special police force often accused of heavy- handed tactics, used to patrol Tokoza and other black townships near Johannesburg. But President F.W. de Klerk, under pressure from the ANC, replaced the unit with army soldiers last year.

Relative calm followed. Then, last week, the National Peacekeeping Force, comprised of government soldiers, police and ANC guerrilla fighters, took over. Within days, gunfire echoed in the streets again.

Witnesses said the peacekeeping soldiers appeared to panic Monday during a gunbattle, and their wild shooting probably killed Oosterbroek and wounded two other photographers.

On Tuesday, South African soldiers moved back in.

Regional ANC and Inkatha leaders visited the area separately Tuesday and said problems were likely to continue.

Tokyo Sexwale of the ANC blamed Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for waiting too long to agree to a political settlement.

Inkatha’s Themba Khoza said ANC supporters threw firebombs and stones at a National Peacekeeping Force vehicle he rode in.

″They are talking through the barrels of guns,″ he said. ″We’re lucky up to now so few people have been killed.″