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Black Miners Kill Two White Policemen

January 22, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ About 500 rioting black gold miners killed two white policemen with knives and war clubs Tuesday night, seized the officers’ weapons and used them against police reinforcements, news reports said.

Sources among the miners involved claimed the police, not the miners, opened fire during a meeting of the black National Union of Mineworkers.

On the economic front, white South African industrialists called for an end to apartheid in an effort to re-establish confidence in the nation’s economy as the inflation rate hit a 64-year high.

The independent South African Press Association (SAPA) said the violence occurred near the pit of the Western Areas Gold Mine, owned by Johannesburg Consolidated Investments, 24 miles west of Johannesburg.

It quoted a police spokesman as saying the miners seized the slain officers’ pistols and shotguns, mutilated the bodies and then fled into a nearby black township, shooting at police units sent to the scene.

SAPA did not say what might have sparked the violence, but there have been reports that the black miners were becoming increasingly militant against the white government’s apartheid policy of legal racial separation.

Johannesburg is built on a wide lode of gold, with the mines employing thousands of migrant workers from distant black communities. The mine operators house the workers in male-only hostels, refusing to allow them to live with their wives and children, and that has caused frequent outbursts of violence, some of it based on tribal differences.

Also Tuesday, police said they found the charred body of a black man in Kwazekele Township near Port Elizabeth, a riot-plagued area on the Indian Ocean 600 miles south of Johannesburg.

More than 1,000 people, virtually all blacks, have been killed in 16 months of violence, most of it related to apartheid, the system under which 5 million whites dominate 24 million voteless blacks. Most of the deaths came at the hands of security forces, but about one-third were cases of blacks killing other blacks in mob and tribal violence and in attacks on people some consider to be collaborating with the government.

The white businessmen’s call for an end to apartheid came as the Central Statistical Services, a government information agency, said the annual inflation rate for 1985 reached 18.4 percent by December. That was 1.4 percent more than it had been the previous month and almost double the rate of two years ago.

The Federated Chamber of Industries, the country’s largest employer alliance, said in a statement that political rights and freedoms should be extended to all races.

The group called on the government to create a climate for negotiation by releasing all political prisoners, abolishing discriminatory laws and permitting blacks to work and live wherever their skills and wealth allow and to share in governmental power.

But the ″rights of minorities″ should be protected, the statement said.

″The process of political round-table bargaining cannot and will not start until all parties are convinced that government is genuinely willing to negotiate a new constitutional dispensation based on power-sharing up to the highest level,″ it said.

″Business hopes to play an important catalytic role″ in getting talks started, the chamber said.

″What is now needed to restore credibility and confidence in South Africa is a realistic and visible program, both of political reform and economic reconstruction.″

The chamber issued no deadlines.

Local and foreign businessmen in South Africa repeatedly have urged the government to speed social and political changes and have blamed official foot-dragging in large part for the decline of the rand, South Africa’s currency, and international loss of confidence in South Africa’s economy.

The American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa said in a statement that it supported the industrial group’s proposals.

In September, three top business leaders met in Zambia with guerrilla leaders at war with South Africa. The executives included Gavin Relly, chairman of Anglo American, the giant South African mining and mineral- marketing company.

That was followed by declarations from businessmen that the race laws must go. An alliance of U.S. businessmen operating in South Africa issued similar calls.

The annual inflation rate announced Tuesday was the highest since the 22 percent of 1922, when white gold miners waged an armed revolt. The army put down the revolt, but inflation remained high through the world’s Depression until World War II.

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