Rival black leaders Nelson Mandela and Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi on Wednesday urged an end to fighting that has claimed 124 lives. But they declined to meet as each toured this township to urge peace.
Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, and Zulu leader Buthelezi visited different parts of Tokoza, telling followers to end the fighting. Heavily armed soldiers and police in armored vehicles ringed the black township east of Johannesburg and lined the streets to prevent violence.
Police said Wednesday that 124 people have been killed since fighting flared in Tokoza on Sunday.
Mandela’s convoy turned back when it approached some Zulu hostels and about 100 angry Zulu men and women yelled threats, including “Away Mandela!” Troops ringed the chanting Zulus, and Mandela’s group did not appear to be in danger.
Black factional fighting in the Johannesburg area has claimed at least 1,000 lives since August. The fighting pits Xhosas and other blacks loyal to the ANC against Zulus tied to Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party.
Buthelezi, accompanied by Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok, told about 3,000 Zulus armed with spears, knives and axes that there should be an end to violence. But he struck a defiant note, saying his followers have the right to defend themselves.
“I’m not taking away the inalienable right to defend yourself,” the Zulu leader told his cheering supporters, who wore red headbands and brandished weapons.
But Buthelezi added: “We cannot kill to establish democracy. Stop this killing. Lay down your arms. Go forth into the future as blacks committed to the kind of democracy which apartheid denied us for so long.”
Vlok said police are doing all they can to halt the violence but that security forces do not have enough men. He said peace can be achieved only if black leaders and their followers negotiate.