South Africa's white government and two black homeland leaders jointly pleaded for peace Tuesday after feuding black factions killed nearly 400 people and wounded more than 1,500 in weeklong battles.
Conservative Zulu chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi met President Frederick W. de Klerk and later urged his followers to lay down their arms in a ferocious conflict between his supporters and rivals from Nelson Mandela's African National Congress.
The peace plea increased pressure on Mandela to meet Buthelezi for peace talks. It followed two hours of talks among Foreign Minister Roelof F. (Pik) Botha, Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok, Buthelezi and Transkei homeland military chief Bantu Holomisa, who is a prominent Xhosa leader.
Mandela, who discussed the violence last week with De Klerk, was not at the meeting.
Police on Tuesday counted a total of 395 dead around Johannesburg with the discovery of 16 bodies in Tembisa and Kwathema townships after fighting Monday and during the night between Zulu migrant workers supporting Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party and mainly Xhosa people who follow the ANC.
The ANC so far has rejected a meeting, accusing Buthelezi of starting the fighting to force his way into constitutional discussions between the white government and black opposition.
At least 3,000 people have been killed since 1987 in the struggle between Inkatha and the ANC in the eastern province of Natal. Fighting spread to the townships of South Africa's industrial heartland last week.
The ANC says Buthelezi does not merit a place alongside other opposition groups because he collaborated with apartheid through the homeland system--Buthelezi is chief minister of the Kwazulu homeland--and commands insufficient national support for a say in the creation of a democratic black-ruled country.
It says that to meet with him now would be to accede to violence and grant him status he does not deserve.
Buthelezi said Tuesday that people were dying because the ANC refused to talk to him. He said he had requested meetings with Mandela 46 times since the ANC leader was freed from jail by De Klerk in February.
Buthelezi said the ANC had turned its military forces away from the white government onto Inkatha.
Black and white newspapers have appealed for Mandela to meet Buthelezi. The United States, the European Community and the Organization of African Unity have urged an end to the killing, which endangers South Africa's delicate peace process after years of black struggle against white rule.