S. Africa Villagers Crowd Into Tent to Mourn Youths Slain Over Election Work
The entire village of Mahehle crowded into a tent with African National Congress leaders Sunday to mourn young ANC supporters massacred in violence linked to April’s election.
“When I look at these boxes here, my strength leaves me,” Walter Sisulu, ANC deputy president, said as he gazed at a row of 14 coffins. A 15th victim from the Feb. 19 massacre was to be buried later.
The more than 2,000 mourners were subdued, though there were occasional calls of “ Amandla awetu! "--"Power to the people!”
The 15 victims were preparing to conduct a voter education program in Mahehle, in southern Natal province, for South Africa’s first all-race election when they were attacked by killers armed with automatic weapons and knives.
In Bisho, near the site of a 1992 massacre of ANC supporters, ANC leader Nelson Mandela used a campaign rally to call for peace and reconciliation.
Police said Thursday that they had arrested an official of the Inkatha Freedom Party in connection with the Mahehle massacre. Two other officials of Zulu-led Inkatha, which opposes the election and is the ANC’s main black political rival, were detained for questioning.
“The only crime committed by these children is that they said the people of Mahehle, the people of Natal and the people of South Africa should go to the polls,” said Harry Gwala, a regional leader of the ANC.