Zulu warriors loyal to Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi clashed again Sunday in a second day of fierce, hand-to-hand fighting with supporters of the African National Congress at Umlazi, outside Durban on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, leaving one dead and several critically injured.
Over the weekend, Buthelezi challenged the African National Congress for the leadership of South Africa’s 25 million blacks, bringing into the open the murderous infighting in recent months between his supporters and those of the congress.
A major showdown could develop in the Durban area, according to black political analysts, if Buthelezi’s challenge is met head-on in his home territory, where each side can muster thousands of armed supporters.
Six persons were killed in factional strife Saturday in Lamontville, adjacent to Umlazi, as Buthelezi spoke at a Zulu political rally there, raising fears of a renewal of last month’s clashes that left more than 70 dead in the Durban area.
Earlier Sunday, a bomb exploded in an Umlazi hotel, apparently the work of guerrillas from an underground cell of the African National Congress in Durban. About 30 black schoolchildren were showered with glass and some were slightly injured.
On Friday, three bombs were detonated in downtown Durban and a fourth was found before it exploded. All were seen as reminders to Buthelezi of the congress’ strength in the area, his home base.
The man killed Sunday was attacked by a mob in Umlazi, stabbed, clubbed and burned to death, police said, adding that the man’s companion was beaten and stabbed but rescued and taken to the hospital in critical condition. Several others were severely beaten, according to residents.
Police reported that gangs of youths stoned the homes of Buthelezi supporters and congress backers in Lamontville and Umlazi over the weekend, ambushing their respective opponents as they shopped and tended to family business.
‘Willing to Kill’
“Each side is fully ready and willing to kill the other,” a senior Durban police officer said, “and we can only delay what is going to be a very bloody . . . set-to. Last month, we were counting bodies in the 10s and 20s, now it is the ones and twos, but it could easily be by the hundreds next week.”
At the African National Congress headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, spokesman Tom Sebina brushed aside criticism made in Buthelezi’s speech. He asserted that the Zulu leader is out-of-touch, ineffectual and more intent on defeating black rivals than on overthrowing South Africa’s white-minority regime.
“He’s not telling the truth,” Sebina said of Buthelezi’s charge that the African National Congress has “declared war” on the predominantly Zulu Inkatha political movement and has ordered Buthelezi’s assassination.