White extremists set off bombs in Soweto, says Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki blamed white extremists for bombs in South Africa's sprawling Soweto township yesterday which killed one person, damaged a mosque and an Islamic school and destroyed railway connections with Johannesburg. Officials said they were trying to determine if a tenth blast at a Buddhist temple 70 miles away was linked to the others.

President Mbeki said the blasts in the mainly black satellite area of Johannesburg where more than a million people live, were a "terrorist campaign to create a political climate that would lead to a coup". No one claimed responsibility, but the national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi, said two white men were reported acting suspiciously near a petrol station where one bomb was defused. Police said it had been placed to cause maximum damage.

"We think we know who did this," Mr Selebi told parliament. "We calculate there are many more bombs than those that have exploded." South Africa's Safety and Security Minister, Charles Nqakula, said police were trying to put together a profile of the bombers. "Whoever is responsible for this ... is going to face the full might of the law," he promised.

Some whites continue to oppose the country's multiracial democracy and advocate a return to the racist apartheid system of governance, which ended with all-race elections in 1994. Fifteen white Afrikaners, including three senior army officers, were recently charged with high treason, sabotage and terrorism after an alleged plot to overthrow Mr Mbeki. They will go on trial next year, accused of plotting to topple the government, seize or destroy military installations, and "chase blacks out of the country".

Police officials, who discovered two arms caches in remote northern rural areas while investigating the 15, are still trying to locate more "ringleaders" linked to the plot. Officers said ammonium nitrate, used in the mining industry, was found at the sites of yesterday's bomb blasts. The bombing of the railway, used by thousands of Sowetans who work in the city, sent debris hundreds of feet in the air. One piece crashed through the roof of a shack, killing a 42-year-old woman as she slept. Her 51-year-old husband suffered serious head injuries.

Soweto's small Muslim community had to make do with a derelict warehouse for midday prayers yesterday. "We have a very good relationship with everybody," Imam Ubada Ntshingane, the spiritual leader at the mosque, said. "We do not know why we were targeted."

Faith Mhlongo, whose house is close to the mosque, said her family was asleep when the bomb was detonated. "I couldn't figure out what it was, but it felt like a helicopter falling from the sky," she said. "The house was shaking and the windows were shattered."

The leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance, Tony Leon, said bombs and terrorism had no place in the world, least of all in democratic South Africa. The youth league of Mr Mbeki's ruling African National Congress said the "senseless and irresponsible idiots" behind the blasts were cowards.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Developer- CSS, HMTL, Bootstrap

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Junior Web Developer- CSS, HMTL

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz