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ANC Official Arrested in S. Africa

September 16, 1999

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) _ A local elected official from the ruling African National Congress was arrested Thursday in connection with an assassination that triggered a blood bath earlier this year.

Joel Mkhize, elected in 1997 to the town council in Richmond, is the 11th suspect arrested for the January killing of Sifiso Nkabinde, a leader of the fledgling United Democratic Movement, police said.

The murder triggered the revenge killing of 11 ANC supporters days later in and around Richmond, 40 miles west of Durban.

The arrest of Mkhize in Durban capped a series of breakthroughs in the Nkabinde case, despite little progress in dozens of other political murders that have plagued this area of the Indian Ocean province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Other suspects arrested since August include a police sergeant who had been assigned to protect Ragavaloo, another policeman and the bodyguard of Nkabinde who was injured in the slaying. Nkabinde was kicked out of the ruling African National Congress on suspicion of spying for the government during apartheid.

Richmond has smoldered with political violence that has claimed at least 120 lives in political flare-ups since 1997.

The town continues to live in a siege atmosphere, where the mayor and elected councilors are under 24-hour guard because of threats to their lives, and armed vehicles patrol the neighborhoods.

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