LAYING BLAME FOR APARTHEID ATROCITIES

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A dark chapter in South Africa's past will be dredged Friday when Afrikaner general Magnus Andre de Merindol Malan goes on trial for the 1987 massacre of 13 women and children in the Zulu village of KwaMakutha. TIME's Peter Hawthorne reports that conservatives in South Africa are incensed that Malan and 10 other top military figures are being charged with setting up the hit-squad responsible for killings during the apartheid struggle. At the same time, former African National Congress leaders Thabo Mbeki and Joe Modise have been granted temporary immunity while a "Truth Commission," headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, investigates. South African right-wingers have accused Nelson Mandela of using the affair to dole out political retribution, a charge the South African President denies. Deputy President F.W. De Klerk has said if Malan is prosecuted, Modise should lose his immunity and be tried for ordering ANC guerrillas to commit 'deeds of terrorism.' As for Malan, Hawthorne says, "The general was asking for no favors. He would have his day in court, he declared, because he was innocent of the charges against him and he would prove it. The action against him, he said, showed that 'democracy was moving into its darkest hour.'"