AWB invasion of talks puts De Klerk on the spot: Awkward questions are being asked, John Carlin writes from Johannesburg
Monday 28 June 1993
The first question is whether the President has control over his security forces. The second is whether he sincerely believes, as he professes to do, that the law must be applied with equal force against whites and blacks.
The answers will provide significant clues as to whether, in a third question on people's lips yesterday, peaceful democratic change remains a viable option in South Africa.
Those posing the questions include Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, most other South African political parties, the local press and international peace observers, all of whom have publicly deplored the outrage and called for swift justice. 'The fact that law-enforcement agencies appeared either unable or unwilling to contain the incident is a particularly disturbing feature of Friday's events,' the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Organisation of African Unity said in a joint statement.
In fact the police stood by and watched as, first, 2,000 heavily armed right-extremists marched into the compound of Johannesburg's World Trade Centre and, second, several hundred stormed into the building itself, seizing possession of the main negotiating chamber. The police explanation was that had they opened fire they would have provoked a bloodbath.
The Johannesburg Sunday Times, in an editorial yesterday, said this argument was acceptable enough. 'The fault lay not with the policemen on the spot but with the command structures' that failed to prepare adequately for the demonstration. The newspaper said that General Johan van der Merwe, South Africa's Commissioner of Police, should resign.
Mr de Klerk, whose track record betrays a hesitance to confront the higher echelons of the security forces, has promised that arrests will be made. The police said on Saturday, however, that this would be very difficult, as a number of demonstrators had given the police false names and addresses.
Mr Mandela, after speaking with Mr de Klerk on the telephone, said on Saturday night: 'What he told me doesn't arouse much hope for immediate arrests.'
The position of the ANC, which said it would carry out a counter-protest nationwide on Thursday, is that the leaders present at the demonstration should be arrested - namely Eugene Terre-Blanche of the AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), the former chief of the South African Defence Force, General Constand Viljoen, and the Conservative Party's leader, Ferdi Hartzenberg.
Only last month the police swooped on the entire leadership of the radical Pan-Africanist Congress on suspicion that they were involved in attacks on whites.
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...