South Africa Changes Version of Its Botswana Raid
Apr. 07, 1988
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The government on Thursday night apparently backtracked on its claim that the army killed ''four ANC terrorists'' in an attack on a house in Botswana 10 days ago.
A South African television report indicated only one of the dead was an operative of the outlawed African National Congress and that any connection between two of those killed and the ANC was uncertain.
Botswana itself on Thursday, in a letter from the office of President Quett Masire, demanded an apology and compensation for ''South Africa's unprovoked act of aggression.'' It earlier called the attack ''cold-blooded murder of four innocent people in their sleep.''
The South African Defense Force said March 28 that the three women and one man killed in its pre-dawn assault on the house, which was blown up, were all ANC ''terrorists.'' Defense Force spokesmen refused to say at the time who they had killed but insisted the identities were known.
The Botswana government said the three women were Batswana civilians and the man was a South African refugee who had been in the country since 1979. All were buried Thursday in Gaborone, the capital.
Government-run South African TV said Thursday night in reporting on the burial that the dead man was a senior ANC commander and that ''at least one (of the three women) was involved with the ANC.''
South Africa identified the man as Solomon Molefi, also known as Paul Naledi, and said he was ANC regional commander in Botswana.
Botswana said the man was Charles Mokoena, a South African refugee, and that neither he nor the three women were ANC members. It called South Africa's identification of the man ''deliberate fabrication.''
Botswana's government supports the ANC's goal of ending white-minority domination in South Africa, but says it does not allow guerrillas to launch cross-border attacks from its territory.
Botswana also said South Africa ''has failed to substantiate its allegation'' that Botswana was being used as a transit route for ANC attacks.
The ANC, based in Lusaka, Zambia, wages a bombing and sabotage campaign trying to overthrow South Africa's government.
Since the March 28 raid, several South African tourists said they were harassed while visiting Botswana.
''The Department of Foreign Affairs wishes to lodge strong protest ... for the aggravated actions launched by the Botswana Defense Force against tourists,'' said a diplomatic note sent to Botswana.
South Africa has not responded to Botswana's demand for compensation for the attack.