EC envoys aim to get Pretoria and ANC talking

DOUGLAS HURD heads a European Community foreign ministers' delegation to Johannesburg today, seeking to prod the South African government and African National Congress into resuming negotiations. Although talks stalled over constitutional issues, the ministers' attention will focus on the unremitting political violence that has arisen as the principal obstacle to further discussions.

Before leaving Heathrow airport yesterday the Foreign Secretary said dialogue was the only way forward for South Africa.

The ministers are expected to propose that the EC send 10 to 20 observers to help bolster South Africa's National Peace Accord, signed a year ago by the government and opposition groups. They would co-ordinate their activities with up to 50 United Nations observers. The ministers will also offer to help South Africa with training its police force.

A new batch of allegations of state complicity in killings and other unrest - from a surge in deaths in police detention to revelations by a former Defence Force colonel of plans for a military coup - has piled pressure on the South African government to be seen to crack down. Ahead of the two-day visit by Mr Hurd, and his counterparts from Portugal and Denmark, Pretoria announced a purge of senior police officers unable to adapt to South Africa's new political realities.

But EC sources say the ministers will want to know why the government has so far failed to implement the far-reaching recommendations of the Goldstone commission into political violence, including reform of the single-sex hostels so often at the heart of the killing. In a phone conversation with South Africa's Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, Mr Hurd has already asked for an explanation of claims by a former Defence Force colonel, Gert Hugo, that top military officers have laid plans for a coup.

The ministers' itinerary reflects the emphasis on the violence. It includes meetings with the Goldstone commission, the National Peace Secretariat and a visit to Johannesburg's squalid Alexandra township, scene of some of the worst attacks from hostels.

Further criticism of the security forces has come this week from Jonathan Gluckman, the pathologist who in July threw open the files on nearly 200 suspicious deaths in police custody. He says he is 'utterly shocked' to discover a three- to four-fold increase in such deaths since he made his revelations. Among the 15 people Dr Gluckman says are known to have died while under arrest in the past month is a man whom the police said had been killed in a shoot-out but who, it emerged, was sitting in the back of a police car when he died. 'There's a great injury on the side of his face caused by a shotgun (blast) passing through the whole upper part of the head, breaking the man's neck,' the pathologist said.

The Law and Order Minister, Hernus Kriel, has brushed off Dr Gluckman's allegations, saying South Africa's record on deaths in police custody is no worse than in other countries. The results of an official inquiry are due within days, with all the indications that the government intends to discredit the pathologist as a recent convert to its opponents by, among other things, questioning why he never made his assertions at inquest hearings. Dr Gluckman says that whenever his evidence raised doubts about police actions he was not called to testify.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before