Zulu Leader Pleads for End to Bloodshed in S. Africa : Ethnic violence: Xhosa chief joins in on the unusual appeal. Rallies occur in the midst of a police crackdown.
The traditional leader of the Zulus, King Goodwill Zwelithini, traveled far from the center of his kingdom Sunday to urge thousands of his followers at rallies to “put out the fires of violence.”
“I have come to tell my father’s people . . . that I, as king of the Zulus, will not tolerate violence perpetrated in the name of” the Zulu nation, said Zwelithini, a highly respected figure among South Africa"s 7 million Zulus.
“Everybody must lay down their arms and take their brother’s hand in friendship,” he said.
Zwelithini was joined by Xhosa paramount chief Tutor Ndamase in the unusual appeal at rallies in Soweto and Tokoza, south of Johannesburg.
A month of fighting in those and other area townships, which has killed nearly 800, has been primarily between Zulu supporters of the Inkatha Freedom Party and Xhosa and other followers of the African National Congress.
Ndamase appealed to the crowds to look behind their differences, which he said were being stoked by unknown people out to upset the country’s peace process.
“Freedom is your goal, not bloodshed,” he said. “Unity is your goal, not division. Power is your goal, not this bloody weakness.” He added: “We must refuse to be used. Enough is enough.”
However, attendance at the rallies was overwhelmingly Zulu. Thousands armed with homemade spears and shields arrived under police escort. No efforts were made to disarm them. Police said later that they had agreed to allow “traditional weapons,” but no machetes or axes. Some more dangerous weapons were seen, however.
Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok visited the Tokoza rally and later spoke with residents at the nearby Phola Park squatter camp, where 800 shacks have been burned down and dozens have died in six attacks by Zulus. Militant ANC supporters in Phola Park have driven Zulus out of a migrant worker hostel, which has now closed, and they also have attacked and killed passers-by whom they suspect of being Zulus.
The rallies occurred in the midst of a police crackdown on the violence. Roadblocks were set up at township entrances, police helicopters circled overhead, and a heavy police presence was evident.
The authorities reported no serious incidents. Two burned bodies were found in Tokoza on Sunday morning and a man in Soweto was stabbed and burned to death on Saturday by a mob of ANC supporters.
The show of Zulu force and the king’s remarks worried some township residents. Although Zwelithini said the “killing talk” must end, he drew cheers when he added that the Zulu nation “will not, I repeat not, be forced out of existence.”
Zwelithini added, however, that “any tendency for Zulus to strike out at Xhosas and Xhosas to do likewise must be eliminated now.”
Inkatha, led by Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, is the ANC’s main political rival. The ANC has support among most ethnic groups, including Zulus, but Xhosas hold many important leadership positions. Zulu supporters of the two groups have been locked in a three-year battle in Natal Province that has killed nearly 4,000.