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Bophuthatswana Capital Quiet After Foiled Coup

February 11, 1988

MMABATHO, South Africa (AP) _ South African soldiers and police patrolled the capital of Bophuthatswana in armored cars with cannons today and sought leaders of an aborted coup in the nominally independent black homeland.

Government offices opened late, but children were going to school and buses and taxis were running normally the morning after Bophuthatswana President Lucas Mangope was deposed for 15 hours by dissident homeland army officers who accused him of corruption, election fraud and human rights abuses.

The South African Defense Force and police entered the homeland Wednesday night and rescued Mangope and some of his ministers from the national sports stadium. At least three people were reported killed during the day.

The whereabouts of Rocky Malebane-Metsing, who the rebels had said would take over the government, were not known. He was leader of the opposition People’s Progressive Party, which had six seats in the homeland Parliament, compared with 66 seats for Mangope’s Democratic Party.

Anti-government newspapers said in editorials this morning that the coup and President P.W. Botha’s decision to send South African troops to restore Mangope to power would make it more difficult for South Africa to convince the world that Bophuthatswana and three other homelands are really independent republics. No other country recognizes them as independent.

″I am back in control ... thanks to the South African army,″ Mangope said in a Wednesday night television address in the Setswana language.

Mangope had been taken from his home and, still wearing pajamas, was held in Independence Stadium under threat of being shot or doused with gasoline and burned alive if he did not sign papers ceding power. He said he had refused.

South African Foreign Minister Roelof Botha told reporters in Cape Town today that three or four of the rebels were killed and three or four wounded in South African operations to end the coup. No South African casualties were reported.

Botha said 150 were arrested.

Beeld, an Afrikaans-language Johannesburg daily newspaper, said three rebel soldiers were killed, in addition to two women killed by the rebels during the coup.

Botha told reporters there were suspicions that the United Democratic Front, the main, multiracial anti-apartheid alliance in South Africa, and the African National Congress, the guerrilla movement seeking to end white control, were linked to the coup attempt.

He said Malebane-Metsing was allied with a tribe believed to have close connections with the UDF.

Winnie Mandela, wife of imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, told a news conference in Johannesburg today, ″I want to point out that the ANC had nothing to do with events in the puppet state of Bophuthatswana. Bophuthatswana is of no concern to the ANC. It is a non- issue.″

The African National Congress and other anti-government organizations consider the division of sections of South Africa into homelands on a tribal basis as a part of the grand apartheid system. They consider homeland leaders who cooperate with the policy to be sell-outs to the government.

By law and custom, apartheid establishes a racially segregated society in which the 26 million blacks have no vote in national affairs. The 5 million whites control the economy and maintain separate districts, schools and health services.

President Botha said one of the reasons the South Africans went to Mangope’s aid was because he was a democratically elected leader.

But New Nation, a newspaper for South African blacks, noted that Mangope’s Democratic Party had won the Bophuthatswana parliamentary elections last October on the basis of a .6 percent voter turnout.

Business Day, a Johannesburg newspaper that generally reflects the views of South Africa’s business community, said no one but the South African government and other homeland leaders recognize the authority of Mangope’s government.

″In the end, South Africa will be seen to be merely reasserting its authority over territory it regards as essentially part of ’greater South Africa,‴ Business Day said.

″Grand apartheid took a devastating knock yesterday. South African military had to rescue its ‘model’ independent homeland,″ said The Star, the country’s largest daily newspaper. ″South African intervention which appears to have restored President Mangope to office only served to confirm the puppet status accorded Bophuthatswana internationally.″

A pro-government Johannesburg newspaper, The Citizen, called Mangope ″a leader of stature, a popular president among his own people, and the person who took Bophuthatswana to independence.″

But The Sowetan, a newspaper for blacks, said dozens of people interviewed in a spot survey on Wednesday had expressed support for the military coup against Mangope, who holds five top ministerial portfolios in his government.

New Nation reported that in the months before the October election, Mangope had jailed key opposition leaders.

The Weekly Mail had reported in October allegations of Bophuthatswanans being told they could not get their pension payments if they did not vote for Mangope’s party, and orders to the government-run television and radio to give no coverage to opposition parties.

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