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Bophuthatswana taken off the map

John Carlin
Monday 14 March 1994 01:02 GMT

THERE was one country less in the world yesterday after Lucas Mangope was deposed as President of Bophuthatswana. Control of the homeland, a sovereign territory under the old apartheid rules, passed to the South African authorities.

The ambassador of the only country which recognised Bophuthatswana's independence, South Africa's Tjaart van der Walt, promptly took charge of the territory's administration.

Mr Mangope, 70, who with Pretoria's blessing had ruled Bophuthatswana as a one-party republic since 1977, was not arrested but, according to an official statement, would be 'secured' by the South African Defence Force for his own safety.

The statement was issued by the South African government and the multi-party Transitional Executive Council (TEC) after a joint delegation had visited Mr Mangope at 9pm on Saturday to tell him his reign was over.

The delegation was headed by South Africa's Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, and included a senior African National Congress official on the council, 'Mac' Maharaj, and General Georg Meiring, the chief of the South African Defence Force. It said all public servants, the police and army included, would be guaranteed their jobs, salaries and pensions.

'Citizens of South Africa, and all those resident in Bophuthatswana, can now engage in free political activity and participate without let or hindrance in the forthcoming elections,' the statement added.

It was Mr Mangope's refusal to provide guarantees of free political activity, despite his belated decision to take part in the elections, that led the government and the ANC to deliver the coup de grace to the deluded dictator.

Reports from Mmabatho, until Saturday the homeland 'capital', said soldiers and civil servants loyal to Mr Mangope were fleeing for fear of retribution from an otherwise jubilant local population.

Charges are to be brought against the policeman who killed two members of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) in Mmabatho on Friday.

A warning that fires remain to be extinguished in other parts of South Africa was provided yesterday morning when hundreds of Inkatha supporters occupied a stadium outside Durban and prevented an ANC rally from taking place. Four people died.

Adding fuel to that fire, Inkatha's leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who failed to meet Friday's deadline for electoral registration, said that he would deploy trained 'self-protection units' in areas affected by violence. 'No matter how many of us you kill,' he said, addressing himself to the ANC, 'you cannot kill our resolve. We will fight to the last man.'

Fiasco clears way, page 9

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