Minister Reintroduces Security Measures, Opposition Demands Resignation With Crossroads Bjt
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Security police in pre-dawn roundups Thursday arrested eight members of a black consciousness movement and a senior labor union official, the union and the South African Press Association reported.
The arrests came amid growing speculation that the white-led government will declare a state of emergency or martial law before the June 16 anniversary of the outbreak of black rioting in Soweto.
Saths Cooper, president of the Azanian People’s Organization, was detained in the early hours along with seven colleagues picked up from their homes, SAPA reported.
Adrienne Bird, an education organizer of the Metal and Allied Workers’ Union, was picked up at her home in the Johannesburg white suburb of Brixton soon after midnight, union spokesman Bernie Fanaroff said.
Fanaroff said police refused to say under what section of the security laws permitting detention without trial they were holding Ms. Bird, who is white.
Cooper, a South African of Indian descent, was taken from his home in Johannesburg’s Lenasia suburb, SAPA said.
Police headquarters in Pretoria refused to confirm or deny the arrests.
On Wednesday, police detained without charge under current security powers an Anglican bishop, the Rt. Rev. Sigisbert Ndwandwe, and a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Motsiri Motsai, their churches reported.
Also Wednesday, the law and order minister resubmitted a set of tough security measures that had already stalled in Parliament, this time without earlier concessions. The opposition demanded his resignation.
A battle between black factions continued at the Crossroads squatter camp outside Cape Town, three blacks were reported killed elsewhere and South Africa’s rand currency sank lower on world markets.
″He can do anything he likes″ under the proposed security laws, legislator Ray Swart said after the minister, Louise le Grange, reintroduced the measures.
″This is an intolerable situation,″ said Swart, of the opposition Progressive Federal Party. ″It is certainly not comparable with democracy. It is more like Nazism, totalitarianism and fascism.″
Business Day, a Johannesburg daily, said Le Grange seeks new powers for ″police who already have too much power for their own or anybody else’s good.″
The Progressive Federal Party said it would submit a motion of no confidence in Le Grange on Thursday, calling for his resignation, but the ruling National Party has firm control of Parliament.
The white government sought the powers to prepare for violence expected to accompany the 10th anniversary Monday of rioting in Soweto, the huge black township outside Johannesburg.
Even if Parliament acted immediately, the laws could not be in place by Monday, and speculation grows that the government will declare a state of emergency.
Under the proposed laws, Le Grange would have sweeping powers in any district he designated an unrest area. Security forces would be immune from civil or criminal suits, and senior police officers could detain people without charge for 180 days instead of the current 14.
The legislation stalled in the separate legislative chambers set up two years ago for mixed-race and Indian minorities. Le Grange agreed last week to negotiate amendments that would let family members and lawyers see detainees, and allow legal appeals of ″unrest area″ declarations.
Mixed-race legislators also wanted the legal shield for security forces dropped. That ended the attempt at compromise and Le Grange returned with the bills in their original form.
Members of the mixed-race chamber said he threatened a state of emergency or even martial law unless the new powers were granted.
He still can get them by going to the government-dominated President’s Council, which has the final say on deadlocked legislation. But he can’t do it by Monday.
The government lifted a 15-month emergency in more than 30 districts March 7. More than 1,600 people, most of them black, have died in 21 months of violence against apartheid, the official race policy that guarantees supremacy for South Africa’s 5 million whites and denies rights to the 24 million blacks.
At least 17 people were killed Monday and Tuesday at Crossroads, the squalid squatter camp 12 miles east of Cape Town, and there were unconfirmed reports of five more deaths Wednesday. The battle is between conservative vigilantes, who many residents say do the government’s bidding, and young anti-apartheid militants.
Continuing violence and government intransigence has put heavy pressure on the rand. It closed Wednesday at 37.1 cents, down 14 percent against the dollar in a week. It was worth $1.25 four years ago.
An Anglican priest, the Rev. Norman Luyt, said police took Bishop Ndwandwe from his home before dawn and were holding him without charge and would not let the Very Rev. Duncan Buchanan, Anglican dean of Johannesburg, visit him in jail. The senior Johannesburg prelate, Bishop Desmond Tutu, was in Cape Town trying to mediate the Crossroads violence.
Ndwandwe was arrested April 25 and released after a week as Tutu prepared to lead a march on the jail. Prosecutors dropped charges of inciting violence, without explanation.
The Catholic priest, Motsai, was taken from his diocese in Klerksdorp south of Johannesburg and held under the Internal Security Act permitting indefinite detention without trial on Le Grange’s orders, a church statement said.