Mandela Considers Action in KwaZulu-Natal
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) _ Hundreds of Zulu nationalists stormed a police station Thursday to demand the release of nine suspects in an attack that killed the Zulu king’s cousin and injured one of his wives.
President Nelson Mandela left open the possibility of sharply increasing security in the region, saying hopes for a political solution to chronic violence were fading.
People in KwaZulu-Natal ``have completely forgotten that they are human beings,″ Mandela said after visiting the wife and a daughter of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who were injured in the April 25 attack on a royal residence in the KwaMashu black township near Durban.
ANC officials have accused the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party in the attack, which killed the king’s cousin and injured one of his five wives, Queen Buhle Mamathe Zulu, and their daughter, Princess Sibusile Zulu.
The body of the cousin, Princess Nonhlanhla, was found in a soccer field inside a workers’ dormitory in KwaMashu that is controlled by Inkatha. Police raided the dormitory Thursday to arrest the nine suspects.
Later Thursday, about 400 men armed with spears, clubs and shields raided the police station where they were being held to demand their release. They vowed to stay in the police compound until the suspects were freed.
A standoff continued late Thursday with dozens of policemen, some wearing body armor, standing by but taking no action.
Mandela has argued that a political solution is the best way to end the power struggle between his African National Congress and Inkatha. But in the wake of the royal attack, he said he would hold talks with top security officials.
``My hand is being forced, and we cannot allow a thing of this nature to happen again _ not only to the royal family, but to any human being in this province,″ Mandela said.
Mandela’s comments seemed to indicate he would consider imposing a state of emergency in KwaZulu-Natal. His spokesman later backtracked, however, saying Mandela’s response to reporters’ questions about a state of emergency did not indicate he was considering such a move.
Spokesman Parks Mankahlana said the president wanted to improve security without sending troops.
Inkatha officials have said the attack was carried out by criminals and had no link to politics.
Years of low-level civil war in KwaZulu-Natal killed thousands of blacks in the decade prior to South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994, which brought the ANC to power nationally while Inkatha won control of the provincial government.
The unrest abated during and after the 1994 vote but has increased gradually since. Renewed tension has been linked to local elections scheduled for May 29.
Mayors and town councilors chosen in that vote would replace tribal chiefs, most of whom are loyal to Inkatha. Mandela’s Cabinet is scheduled to meet Monday with members of other political parties to decide whether to postpone the KwaZulu-Natal vote due to logistical problems and unrest.