After Soweto -- Cape Town. Following South Africa's worst ever day of rioting two months?
After Soweto -- Cape Town. Following South Africa's worst ever day of rioting two months ago, in which 176 people were killed in one day in Johannesburg's black Soweto township, another 23 died in further violence on Thursday (12 August).
SYNOPSIS: Much of the violence was aimed at commuters from Cape Town's three principal townships -- trying to prevent them from travelling to work in white areas. But armed police and troops were alerted to the tactics after Sowoto, where this was a familiar pattern. They were out in strength at bus and railway stations to make sure that those commuters who wanted to get to work did so. In Johannesburg, where the trouble originally began, the intimidation tactics were successful for a while. But security forces soon recognised the pattern of events which on several days had made white workers do their own menial chores in the absence of black labour.
The Cape Town riots, involving three separate townships around the city, began in earnest on Wednesday (11 August) as black areas across South Africa reacted to the deaths in Soweto. Crowds of chanting blacks challenged heavy police and troop lines with rifles, machine-guns and dogs.
There were 23 deaths the following day -- most of them caused by police bullets. Another 70 were injured, according to initial reports. The night of wild violence saw pitched battles between police and troops and black rioters wrecking, burning and looting buildings around Cape Town -- the seat of South Africa's Parliament.
South African Commissioner of Police General Gert Prinsloo later said his original statement numbering 33 instead of 23 deaths was a mistake.
Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, white commercial capital of South Africa, one hundred police motorcyclists turned out to provide an escort for the coffin containing a white traffic policeman killed in the Soweto riots a week earlier. He was run over by a car driven by black Africans at the height of the disturbances, and was given a burial with full military honours of Thursday.
The black disturbances in South Africa are symptomatic of a long history of unrest and racial differences. In the past two decades, the nation has suffered sporadic outbursts of black violence--Sharpville probably going down in history as the epitomy of the division between the races. Since then, black Africa has won many a war against white domination. If white