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Black Victims Of Police Shootings Hit In Back

April 18, 1985

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Seventeen of the 20 blacks killed when police fired on marchers last month were shot from behind, and most of the victims were teen-agers, autopsies submitted to an inquiry said today.

Meanwhile, police headquarters in the capital of Pretoria said rioting continued Wednesday and early today in at least eight black and mixed-race townships in the eastern Cape Province. Two more blacks were killed in Wednesday’s unrest, a spokesman said.

The detailed post mortem findings from the March 21 shootings listed 20 fatalities, one more than previously disclosed by police, in the clash in Langa township near the white industrial center of Uitenhage.

Of the 20 victims, 17 sustained shotgun wounds and three died from bullet wounds, the post mortem findings showed. Seventeen were shot in the back side of their bodies. Ten of those killed had brain wounds.

The dead ranged in age from 11 to 50, with most in their teens. The findings disclosed details of injuries such as ″shotgun pellet wounds to the back of the brain and lung″ suffered by Vuyo Fumbata, 14, and a ″shotgun wound from the back in the spine,″ which killed Pakamile Solomon, 50.

The evidence from five doctors was submitted to eastern Cape Province Supreme Court Judge Donald Kannemeyer, who is holding a government-ordered one-man inquiry into the shootings.

The white-minority government initially said police opened fire when marchers on their way to a banned funeral refused an order to disperse and attacked police with rocks and petrol bombs. Testimony by some police officers and witnesses has indicated no gasoline bombs were thrown and just one rock was thrown by a black woman before police opened fire.

The clash set off weeks of rioting in the eastern Cape region.

The body of a black man was found next to a heap of burning tires in a black township near Uitenhage on Wednesday, and a 22-year-old black man was shot and killed when an army patrol opened fire on a group of 800 blacks that was stoning the riot patrol, said the police spokesman, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.

Police reported incidents of stone-throwing, often met with tear gas and rubber bullets, in at least eight black and mixed-race townships in the eastern Cape, the spokesman said.

In Johannesburg’s black township of Soweto, a crowd of youths marched from a stadium to a business center and attacked three stores owned by former Mayor Ephraim Tshabalala, who was voted out of office last year, police said. He is regarded by many young blacks as a collaborator with the white government. Increasingly, such blacks have become targets for rioters.

The South African Council of Churches, a main campaigner against South Africa’s racial segregation laws, announced the creation of an emergency fund to aid unrest victims.

″We hope that each million rand ($500,000) we receive from abroad will be matched by a local contribution,″ the Rev. Beyers Naude, council general secretary, said.

The fund will be used for family support, legal, medical, funeral and bail costs and food relief, he added.

The announcement noted that the church council’s Asingeni Fund, founded in 1976 to assist those ″engaged in the struggle for justice in South Africa,″ had been depleted.

The government contends the money is used to aid those willing to use violence to oppose the government. The council has defended the Asingeni Fund as humanitarian assistance to victims of ″state repression.″

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