The military in the nominally independent South African black homeland of Transkei staged a bloodless coup Wednesday, ousting Prime Minister Stella Sigcau after less than three months in office.
Maj. Gen. Bantu Holomisa, the 32-year-old army commander, announced on Radio Transkei that he has taken power as head of a military council. He accused Sigcau of corruption and said she is now “on leave.”
Holomisa declared martial law, suspended the constitution and outlawed political activity in Transkei, one of four black homelands designated by South Africa as independent but not recognized abroad.
Transkei lies along the Indian Ocean coast between the port cities of Durban and East London. It is mostly rural, covering 18,000 square miles, and has about 3.5 million residents. The homeland, established in 1976, has been troubled by corruption and debt problems.
No Reports of Violence
The South African Broadcasting Corp. said there were no reports of violence or arrests. Soldiers patrolled the streets and set up roadblocks around Transkei’s capital of Umtata, the radio said.
No information was immediately available on the whereabouts of Sigcau. She took office Oct. 5, two weeks after Holomisa and his troops ousted George Matanzima and forced eight of his Cabinet ministers to resign.
Sigcau, 50, whose father was a prominent Transkei chief, previously served as minister of posts and telecommunications. Elected prime minister by the Transkei National Independence Party, she became the first woman to lead one of South Africa’s black homelands.
Supporters depicted her as Transkei’s version of Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but critics said it would be difficult for a woman to survive as leader in a society traditionally dominated by men.