South Africa: Hard Line

Three hangings spark a furor

Ten minutes after a chilly dawn at Pretoria's Central Prison, five men stepped up to five gallows, accompanied only by a hangman, a physician and a prison official. At a signal from the official, the hangman pulled a single lever, springing five trapdoors. Church bells tolled in the black ghetto of Soweto 40 miles away, while cries of anguish and indignation reverberated around the world.

Two of the men executed were common murderers. The others—Thello S. Mogoerane, 23; Jerry Mosololi, 25; and Marcus Motaung, 27—were guerrillas of the outlawed African National Congress (ANC), the black resistance movement...

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