south African security forces sealed off the two principal black African townships serving Johannesburg on Wednesday (August 4) following fresh outbreaks of violence.
south African security forces sealed off the two principal black African townships serving Johannesburg on Wednesday (August 4) following fresh outbreaks of violence. At least three blacks were killed when police opened fire on a crowd of about 20,000 adults and schoolchildren from Soweto marching on Johannesburg, eight miles away (11 kilometres).
SYNOPSIS: They were demanding the release of student leaders jailed after the June riots which were in protest at the enforced use of Afrikaans as a teaching language. Afrikaans is the official language of the white regime, and generally alien to blacks. The march never reached Johannesburg. Police opened fire five miles (8 kilometres) before the demonstrators reached the business centre. But part of the protest was achieved, the majority of black workers serving Johannesburg failed to reach their jobs when railway services wee severely disrupted by the sabotage of a railway line; the near-destruction of a train of passing white commuters; and picket lines forcing black commuters to stay in Soweto. This left large numbers of essential menial jobs in Johannesburg to be done by the white population, or left undone.
On the edges of Soweto, black and white security forces set up barricades at the entry points and turned away white reporters and all traffic they considered non-essential. Early reports from the township said groups of youths who missed joining the main match on Johannesburg were rampaging through the streets trying to get past the police barricades.
Several cars were stoned in the attempts, and white staff employed in the administration of Soweto were among the targets. They were quickly evacuated by police soon after the rioting began. In the June riots, 176 people died, most of them black, and many of them children. The government's first response was to close the schools -- the focal point of the dispute -- but later they relented and allowed them to be re-opened. However, the schools have been widely boycotted since then, and the unrest simmered until Wednesday, when it once more came to the boil. In Wednesday's security operations, several busloads of black workers were stopped form going into Johannesburg in the security operation.
The situation was much the same in Alexandra a smaller black township on she other side of Johannesburg from Soweto. Initial reports were vague, but apparently there were attempts to burn down two schools. Students were also reported to be taunting police, and security forces sealed off the township after a van and a bus were wrecked and burnt. The blockades around Soweto and Alexandra were thrown up in an attempt to contain what a senior police officer called 'an extremely dangerous situation'.