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Two Bombs Explode in Johannesburg, Wounding 18

June 24, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Two bombs exploded Tuesday in downtown Johannesburg, one wrecking a fast- food shop and spraying shards of glass and metal into a busy avenue. Authorities said 19 people were wounded.

It was the highest casualty toll from apparent sabotage attacks in Johannesburg, the nation’s largest city. Among those wounded in the explosions, which came half an hour apart at midday, was a 2-month-old baby of mixed race cut on the head by flying glass.

In Pretoria, the government Bureau of Information said it had not determined the kind of devices used in the bombings at the restaurant and outside a hotel. It called the bombings ″callous acts of terrorism.″

Such attacks generally are blamed on the African National Congress guerrilla group, which has been fighting white domination since 1961. The group is outlawed in South Africa but has offices in nearby countries.

The first blast, in a half-full Wimpy hamburger restaurant, shattered front windows, blew down the metal sign and mangled chairs and tables. Authorities said 18 people of all races were wounded inside and on the street.

A black man was hurt in the second explosion, in the front driveway of the President Holiday Inn.

Four victims were hospitalized with serious wounds and the others were released after treatment for cuts and bruises, said the Bureau of Information, the only source of official reports under the state of emergency imposed June 12.

The nation’s largest labor federation, the mainly black Congress of South African Trade Unions, said more than 70 of its senior leaders and scores of members had been rounded up without charge under the emergency.

Officials have not revealed the number of people detained, but foreign monitoring groups put it at more than 3,000. Press restrictions prohibit identification of detainees.

In Parliament, veteran anti-apartheid legislator Helen Suzman held up a computer printout she said contained the names of 300 people jailed under emergency rules. She claimed to have another list of 1,500 names.

She said activists of all races were among them, including trade union leaders Piroshaw Camay, Dennis Neer and Howard Marawu; clergymen; journalists, physicians, and local anti-apartheid organizers. She said some families had not been informed, as emergency provisions require.

″South Africa has become like El Salvador and Argentina, where thousands of people go missing and the government won’t acknowledge where they are or whether they are dead or alive,″ she said.

Bureau of Information spokesman Casper Venter said two blacks were killed in racial unrest, bringing the death toll to 59 under the emergency. He said police shot a man in Witbank, east of Johannesburg, and the other was shot dead by blacks near Uitenhage in the eastern Cape Province.

He said three blacks attacked a supermarket with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles in the tribal homeland of KwaNdebele, wounding a black man.

The union congress said detentions of its members ″place in serious jeopardy the carefully constructed system of industrial relations established through bitter struggle and negotiations with employers″ since black unions were legalized in 1979.

Workers have held sit-down strikes in chain retail stores, demanding that their leaders be freed. White business executives met over the weekend with Louis le Grange, the law and order minister, asking that the labor leaders be released.

Among the few people freed was Andre Koopman of the Cape Times, who was rounded up with 188 other people June 15 at a church service near Cape Town.

His paper said he was there to cover the service, not participate. At least a dozen journalists have been detained under emergency powers.

Israeli journalist Dan Sagir, who has worked in South Africa for two years, was told Tuesday that his work permit would not be renewed and he must leave by midnight Thursday.

Sagir, who works for the daily Haaretz and Israeli army radio, was the third journalist ordered out of the country in two weeks. The others are CBS cameraman Wim de Vos and Newsweek bureau chief Richard Manning.

Two foreign delegations arrived, prompting the daily pro-government Citizen newspaper to declare in an editorial called ″Do-Gooders″:

″There is no purpose any longer in trying to placate overseas governments, since you’re going to be punished anyway. ... If it is sanctions or surrender, the great majority of South Africans will accept sanctions.″

The visitors are Denis Healey, spokesman on foreign affairs for the opposition British Labor Party, and Cyrus Vance, former U.S. secretary of state.

Healey is a guest of the South African Council of Churches. Vance leads a team from Yale investigating whether the university should withdraw investments from companies that do business in South Africa.

Update hourly