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Two Blacks Hanged For Killings In Anti-Apartheid Violence

September 1, 1987

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) _ Two black men were hanged today for a multiple killing committed during an outbreak of anti-apartheid violence, despite clemency pleas from their mothers, black activists and the West German government.

Activist Winnie Mandela, declaring that she spoke for the African National Congress, told about 300 people at a memorial service in Johannesburg that the men had not died in vain.

″We have come to terms with the fact that the enemy has declared war,″ she said. ″We accept the challenge. The blood of the comrades has not flowed in vain. Your movement has always told you that not a drop of blood has been lost in vain.″

Armed police with dogs surrounded the building where the memorial service was held, searching people who entered and ordering away reporters.

Sheriff Milton van der Westhuizen said Moses Jantjies, 23, and Wellington Mielies, 26, were hanged in Pretoria for the killings of Councilor Ben Kinikini, his four sons and another person in Kwanobuhle township, near Uitenhage, in 1985.

The victims were stabbed and their bodies set on fire by a crowd outside Kinikini’s funeral parlor, where kidnapped activists were believed held. Township councilors and black policemen have been targeted for attack by militants, who say the collaborate with the government.

Jantjies and Mielies were the first of 33 convicts scheduled to be executed for slayings committed during three years of unrest that began in September, 1984.

The government views the convicts as criminals subject to normal legal processes. Anti-apartheid spokesmen say they are political figures or, in effect, prisoners of war who should not be executed.

Mrs. Mandela told the crowd gathered in Khotso House, where several anti- apartheid groups have offices, ″I greet you in the name of the African National Congress. I greet you in the name of Umkhonto we Sizwe,″ the armed wing of the African National Congress founded by her husband, Nelson, who is serving a life sentence for sabotage.

Grahamstown Mielies, father of one of the hanged men, said he had spoken to the two men shortly before their death and they had sent a message to ″continue the struggle.″

The service, organized by the South African Youth Congress, was attended by members of the black Post Office and Telecommunications Workers Association who had gathered to discuss their two-month-old strike for pay parity and equal conditions with white workers.

The Post Office said agreement was reached on most points in discussions Monday aiming to end the strike by more than 14,000 workers, which has affected mail deliveries over wide areas.

Police headquarters in Pretoria said Khotso House was surrounded under emergency regulations allowing them to prevent news coverage of events they declare to involve unrest.

The government has not announced execution dates for the remaining 31 convicts for whom local activists and the West German government have issued clemency pleas.

West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher urged President P.W. Botha on Saturday to spare Mielies and Jantjies as an ″important contribution to the interior stability of South Africa.″

More than 100 criminals are hanged annually in South Africa. The number executed last year was 121.

Apartheid establishes a racially segregated society in which the 25.6 million blacks have no vote in national affairs. The 5 million whites control the economy and maintain separate districts, schools and health services.