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Town Council Reconsiders, Opens Cinemas to All

February 4, 1987

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The only two cinemas in the conservative Transvaal mining town of Krugersdorp reopened today after the town council broke a deadlock and voted to desegregate the movie houses.

Seven councillors and Krugersdorp Mayor Christo Peyper issued a statement after a special council meeting Tuesday night saying the council supported the opening of cinemas to all races. Four other councillors who opposed the move walked out.

Ster Kinekor Corp., which controls the majority of drive-ins and cinemas in South Africa, closed the ″whites only″ theaters Saturday after the Krugersdorp town council failed to resolve the issue with a deadlocked 6-6 vote Jan. 26.

After Tuesday’s vote, the company said, ″Under these circumstances, Ster Kinekor is pleased to announce that the cinemas will be re-opened on Wednesday, 4 February.″

The film distributor said its American suppliers had threatened to cut off its supply of U.S. films unless all of Ster Kinekor’s screens were desegregated by May 1.

Three other Transvaal town councils recently complied with the film distributor’s request for open cinemas. Pretoria, which has four Ster Kinekor cinemas, still is considering the request.

Pretoria also is facing a deadline from Cinema International Corp., which owns just over 30 screens in the country, and is under a Feb. 6 deadline from its U.S. suppliers, mainly Warner Brothers, to make sure it shows no movies at segregated cinemas.

Cinema International deputy general manager Graydon Fry said the company would close its four cinemas in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Pretoria after Thursday night, unless the Pretoria City Council meets a Feb. 5 deadline.

In an unrelated case, The Star newspaper in Johannesburg reported that Trevor Tutu, son of Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu, appeared Tuesday in the Rand Supreme Court in connection with a claim by Ster Kinekor for nearly $14,000.

According to court documents, Ster Kinekor hired the younger Tutu as a marketing manager in 1985, giving him a company car and a credit card for entertaining clients. The company said he was to repay his own credit card charges each month and reimburse the company for excess travel on the car. The dispute involved those charges.

Trevor Tutu was ordered to pay costs and given seven days to tell the court whether he intends a defense.

Elsewhere, the government’s Bureau for Information reported that a bystander was wounded at the Ngungungane Secondary School in Soweto school Tuesday when a man threatened the principal, then fired ″several wild shots.″

″No arrests have yet been made and police investigations are continuing,″ the government report said. It gave no indication whether the bystander was a student, teacher or other adult.

In its daily report, the bureau said the other unrest-related incidents reported up to midnight Tuesday ″comprised a few petrol (gasoline) bomb attacks on private homes, causing considerable damage.″ It did not give any details.

Press restrictions imposed under a June 12 state of emergency bar reporting on security force actions and carrying ″subversive statements″ without approval. The rules require authorization from government censors for reports on a wide range of matters, including most peaceful protests.

The government on Tuesday reported the number of violent incidents declined 70 percent in the second half of 1986 following the imposition of the nationwide state of emergency. The report also said the number of deaths related to the violence had dropped from 665 in the first half of the year to 251 in the second six months.

However, the private Institute for International Relations said 215 people died in June alone in unrest. Most of those deaths occurred in the weeks following the declaration of emergency.

If the 215 deaths in June were added to the 251 the government reported from July-December, the number of deaths since the emergency is more than 400, which conforms with other independent counts.

More than 2,400 people have been killed violent incidents over the past 2 1/2 years, according to unofficial estimates.

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