Right-Wingers’ S. Africa Protest Turns Violent
A right-wing protest against the return of 50 white South Africans who met with the outlawed African National Congress erupted today into fistfights and shouting matches with anti-apartheid activists.
Hundreds of police converged on Jan Smuts Airport to prevent any violence between the ultra-right-wing Afrikaner Resistance Movement and anti-apartheid student activists.
At least 14 people, including 12 news photographers, were detained, but no injuries were reported in the confrontations.
Resistance leader Eugene Terre’Blanche said before the flight carrying the returning South Africans touched down from London that he and some 200 followers had come “to kiss them goodby.”
When the returning South Africans did not emerge from the airport’s international arrivals security area, Terre’Blanche told supporters: “The Dakar-goers did not have the courage to look the people in the eye. We have let them know they are not welcome in South Africa.”
The group of about 50 white educators, church leaders and businessmen held three days of talks with the African National Congress in Dakar, Senegal, two weeks ago. The black African Nationalist Congress, banned in 1960, is involved in a military struggle against the South African government.
Last week, the resistance threatened to “get” group leader Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert on his return. Slabbert, who is in Europe, is not expected to return until July 31.
Terre’Blanche and his followers left the area when it became clear that most of the returning South Africans were taking a flight to Cape Town. Other delegation members slipped out a side door.
Outside the terminal, however, the right-wing protesters were confronted by about 30 left-wing supporters of the United Democratic Front.
Several fistfights broke out amid resistance group cries of “traitors,” “trash,” and “scum” and the singing of the South African national anthem. The group of black and white United Democratic Front supporters responded by singing the so-called black national anthem, “Nkosi Sike Lele I’Africa.”