South Africa The Wind Rises in Welkom

In defense of apartheid, white vigilantes organize to intimidate blacks and threaten a "holy war"

The sunny garden city of Welkom is having trouble living up to its name. Situated in the Orange Free State gold-mining belt, the town of 54,000 whites and 150,000 blacks had long managed to keep a relatively peaceful if wary distance from the murderous political events that plagued other parts of South Africa. But with the release of Nelson Mandela, the legalization of the African National Congress and President F.W. de Klerk's reform initiatives, racial tensions are rippling across Welkom like an evil wind.

The ominous force behind the tensions is a white right-wing organization of self-styled commandos, the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging,...

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