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Rival S. Africa Black Groups Sign Accord to End Fighting

Associated Press

Rival black political groups signed an accord Friday to end what has been called the country’s worst factional fighting this century, in which more than 600 people have been killed in 20 months.

The agreement sought to halt savage fighting in Natal province between supporters of militant anti-apartheid groups and members of Inkatha, a more conservative group headed by Zulu leader Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi.

It was signed at a courthouse in the provincial capital, Pietermaritzburg, by Oscar Dhlomo, Inkatha’s secretary general, and by Jay Naidoo, secretary general of the militant Congress of South African Trade Unions.

The labor federation has been allied with the United Democratic Front, a now-banned anti-apartheid coalition, in the feud against Inkatha.

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Sets Up Adjudication Board

The agreement condemns violence and establishes an adjudication board to review complaints of harassment or attacks. The board’s members would be selected jointly by the two sides and would have disciplinary powers.

“Each party recognizes the immediate necessity to make it abundantly clear to its members that COSATU and Inkatha categorically condemn acts of intimidation, forced recruitment and violence,” the agreement says. “All political organizations have the right to exist and the democratic right to espouse their own particular viewpoint.”

Nicholas Haysom, a lawyer for the labor federation who helped draft the accord, said both sides were cautious about their ability to convince rank-and-file supporters to honor the pact.

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“The level of retribution and atrocious violence has made conditions almost impossible to exercise freedom of association,” he said.

Haysom said the adjudication board will be able to judge cases far more quickly than the courts can and will seek to gain the confidence of witnesses who have been fearful of making statements to police.

Supreme Court Justice N. S. Page, who had asked the two sides to pursue an accord, said the courts were not abdicating their responsibilities but viewed the new board as a valuable additional tool to help stop the bloodshed.

Meanwhile, an explosion rocked Durban on Friday, causing extensive damage to a clothing store and slightly injuring a black woman, police said.

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