30 die in 'victory for SA voteless'

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The Independent Online
THE African National Congress hailed yesterday's South African general strike in which millions stayed away from work as a 'victory for the voteless'. But it was a victory for which, on the eve of the strike, as many as 30 of those voteless paid with their lives.

Most of the killings occurred on Sunday in Natal, where 21 died, including 10 in the Indian Ocean township of Esikhawini. At least five people died early yesterday morning, three shot dead by police in Soweto. Otherwise, allegations of intimidation both by ANC supporters and the police, few of them proven, flew thick and fast.

However it was not certain that all of the violent incidents had been linked to the ANC's campaign of 'mass action', which continues today with a further 24- hour strike - and into the rest of the week with countrywide rallies and street protests.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the secretary-general of the ANC, said yesterday afternoon that the strike had been a 'phenomenal success', having kept 4 million workers, or 90 per cent of the black labour force, away from work. Independent estimates, including some by business groups, put the figure at 90 per cent for the Johannesburg area, but closer to 75 per cent for Durban and 50 per cent for Cape Town.

'The disenfranchised have unmistakably voted with their feet for peace and democracy,' Mr Ramaphosa said. The strike had sent 'a clear signal' to the government in support of ANC demands for an interim government, an elected assembly to draft a new constitution and measures to stop political violence.

One such measure urged by the ANC is a restraint on the KwaZulu police, often described as the 'private army' of the right- wing Inkatha Freedom Party. Yesterday ANC sources in Esikhawini, the scene of long-standing conflict between the ANC and Zulus allied to Inkatha, claimed that the KwaZulu police had carried out the gun attacks on


The government, which had repeatedly warned that mass action would generate violence, denounced the ANC yesterday for employing 'economic terrorism as a political instrument'. Tertius Delport, Deputy Minister of Constitutional Affairs, said the government was 'not going to be pressurised or forced into political or constitutional abdication'.

In an ominous development, the government of the 'independent' Ciskei homeland denied entry yesterday to one of 10 United Nations observers in South Africa to monitor the ANC campaign. Ciskei's leader, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, has threatened to shoot any demonstrators who attempt to enter his territory during a planned ANC march on his capital, Bisho, today. Yesterday he called in the South African Defence Force for assistance.

Township protest, page 9

Leading article, page 14