De Klerk wants to see Mandela

Click to follow
The Independent Online
PRESIDENT F W de Klerk called for an urgent meeting with Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress President, last night to discuss the violence hindering constitutional talks. But he probably killed the proposals by demanding that talks should include the role of 'conflictcreating' marches and strikes by the ANC.

After Monday's shooting of ANC supporters on the Ciskei border, the government has quietly made it known that it considered abandoning negotiations as a way of holding the ANC leadership responsible for forcing the confrontation with the homeland's military. It would have been a significant gesture but not much more as the ANC suspended talks after the Boipatong township massacre in July.

The ANC Secretary-General, Cyril Ramaphosa, said he would respond after a national executive meeting to discuss the Ciskei killings today, but added that similar proposals have been rejected before because the meetings lack 'foundation'.

The ANC said the death toll from the attack on the marchers rose to 32 with the deaths of four more people from their injuries. In Ciskei the army searched for people who took part in Monday's march. Overnight the homes of soldiers and the police were burnt in at least half-a-dozen villages in retaliation for the massacre. The military hit back by arresting and assaulting ANC supporters, and burning homes themselves.

Brigadier Oupa Gqozo warned of another massacre if the ANC continues to challenge his government. The brigadier, facing reporters' questions about Monday's killings, said he had appointed a commission to investigate the slaughter and therefore could not discuss it because the matter was sub judice.

Until the violence in South Africa ended, he said, he was not prepared to hold a referendum on his future, as church leaders are urging.

But he did not reject it outright, and church sources said the issue has yet to be resolved.

An ANC march by 2,000 people yesterday to demand the resignation of the government of QwaQwa, a self-governing homeland still incorporated in South Africa, unlike Ciskei, passed off peacefully.