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Anti-Apartheid Leaders Call For Conference To Halt Natal Fighting

April 27, 1989

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Anti-apartheid leaders Wednesday called for a peace conference to end fighting between political factions in Natal province that has killed more than 1,400 blacks since 1986.

Representatives of the banned United Democratic Front and the Congress of South African Trade Unions told a news conference that their affiliates in Natal share a commitment with the Zulu political organization, Inkatha, ″to a mass movement for peace.″

Crowds supporting the two sides fought in the Natal town of Mpophomeni Tuesday, killing five people and injuring five. Police firing tear gas and birdshot broke up the battle and arrested 196 people, authorities said.

Both sides agree the violence must stop, but previous peace initiatives have failed to halt the beatings, arson fires, and revenge killings that occur almost daily in Zulu townships and villages.

United Democratic Front spokesman Murphy Morobe, who is not restricted from political activity even though his organization is banned, said affiliated community groups in Natal had approved the peace plan.

However, Morobe said he was wary of possible government interference.

″It would seem to us that when we are on the verge of a major political initiative to break through the cycle of violence, the apartheid state has moved systematically to undermine the political process we are engaged in,″ he said in a statement.

He referred to a speech Monday by Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok that blamed front supporters for the violence. Vlok predicted the peace efforts would fail and said church officials organizing the initiative were naive.

The front is allied with the outlawed African National Congress. The ANC criticizes Inkatha’s opposition to boycotts, sanctions and other confrontational methods of battling South Africa’s policy of racial segregation.

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