AP NEWS
Related topics

Peace in One Township; Deaths in Another

February 2, 1992

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) _ As the country’s two leading black groups held their first joint peace rally Sunday, eight blacks died in factional fighting only a few miles away.

About 1,000 supporters of the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party met on a grassy field in Mpumalanga to celebrate an agreement to end fighting that has raged in the township almost daily since the mid-1980s.

But at virtually the same time, police said, eight blacks were killed in clashes at a squatter camp in Umlazi, another community just outside this Indian Ocean port city.

The clash demonstrated the difficulty of halting violence that afflicts black areas nationwide. Local peace agreements have repeatedly been undermined by outburts of fighting in nearby communities as members of the ANC and Inkatha battle for supremacy.

The left-leaning ANC is larger than Inkatha and draws black support nationwide, while the relatively conservative Inkatha is made up almost entirely of Zulus, who are concentrated in the eastern province of Natal.

The ANC and Inkatha are among the 19 black and white organizations that opened talks in December on a new constitution that would end apartheid and political domination by the white minority.

Mpumalanga, an impoverished township about 18 miles inland, was one of the worst battlegrounds. More than 1,000 people have been killed, about 1,500 homes destroyed and 29 schools damaged by fire bombs.

But after more than a year of negotiations between local ANC and Inkatha leaders, the two sides agreed to peace in the township. There has been virtually no fighting in recent months.

″We shouldn’t make apartheid between ourselves,″ ANC official Matthew Meyiwa said at the rally, calling the agreement ″a small beginning″ that can be a model for the rest of South Africa.

But in Umlazi, ANC officials said heavily armed men from an Inkatha stronghold attacked opponents with the help of police from the KwaZulu black homeland.

Police Lt. Col. Moses Khanyila called the charge ″absurd.″

Inkatha’s leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, also is the chief minister of the KwaZulu homeland, and the ANC has accused him of using the area’s police in the factional fighting. Buthelezi denies the charge.

Buthelezi and ANC President Nelson Mandela have met and called for an end to black fighting. But their pleas have been largely ignored, and clashes between the two groups have claimed 6,000 lives the past two years.

Both sides billed the gathering in Mpumalanga as the first joint peace rally between their supporters.

The local leaders who worked out the accord, Sipho Mlaba of Inkatha and Meshack Radebe of the ANC, held hands as they joined the crowd in singing ″God Bless Africa,″ the country’s unofficial national anthem for blacks.

A group of white businessmen also attended and pledged 12 million rand, the equivalent of $4.3 million, to rebuild houses and schools and construct a community center.

AP RADIO
Update hourly