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Rioting Black Youths Kill Policeman in Soweto

From Times Wire Services

A group of black youths hacked a black police sergeant to death with machetes and knives Friday during riots in Soweto after police turned back throngs of blacks protesting the arrests of 15 students accused of burning another officer to death.

The sergeant was killed by a crowd that invaded his home at midday. Two of the officer’s weapons were stolen, police said.

His was the only death confirmed by police in Soweto, the huge township outside Johannesburg that has been a focal point in 19 months of black rage against the white-minority government’s apartheid race policies.

Another black policeman’s home was set ablaze, and soldiers shot a black youth who stoned their vehicle, police said.

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Buses, homes and a police car were stoned and a delivery truck was set on fire by mobs of young blacks who roamed through the township of nearly 2 million people, according to the police report.

Hundreds of young people had tried to go on foot, in buses and in cars to a magistrate’s office where the 15 suspects in an earlier killing of a policeman were appearing.

Marchers Turned Back

Police turned back some of the marchers at roadblocks and dispersed others with tear gas. Mobs formed and the riot began.

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Elsewhere in the country, police said a white motorist suffered serious stab wounds at the hands of youths who pulled him from his car in a black township near Cape Town. Headman Somtunzi, government spokesman in the tribal homeland of Ciskei, said several homes were set afire Thursday night, including those of the justice and police minister.

Police said a black Anglican bishop whose home was fire-bombed Wednesday had been detained under a security law designed to curb the violence that has claimed the lives of more than 1,400 victims since September 1984, nearly all of them black.

The first announcement of the arrest came from Bishop Desmond Tutu, the black cleric who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize and is the Anglican archbishop-elect of Cape Town. He said Bishop Sigisbert Ndwandwe was taken from his home Thursday night on a charge of public violence.

Tutu said of his colleague: “If anyone has been working towards holding together a community that was exploding, then it was this person. This is not the way to go around defusing this explosive situation. I can only hope that they will come to their senses and release him quickly.”

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In apparent response to Bishop Tutu’s remarks, police headquarters issued a statement saying: “The criticism leveled against the police because of the detention is presumptuous to say the least, more so when it emanates from somebody who has no knowledge of the very good reasons that exist for the detention.”

In Cape Town, Minister of Law and Order Louis Le Grange told the House of Assembly that 371 people died and 1,194 were injured in police actions during the seven-month state of emergency that was lifted by President Pieter W. Botha last month.


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