Radical right-wing white Afrikaners are suspected of planting a bomb that devastated the offices of a progressive-thinking Afrikaner academic, Prof. Jan Lombard, at Pretoria University this past weekend.
For some time, there has been concern that right-wingers who oppose any meaningful racial reforms in South Africa might become more active and violent.
After the bomb blast -- which caused damage of between $13,000 and $16,000 -- a man with a "strong Afrikaans accent" telephoned the professor to warn him that his house might be bombed as well.
Professor Lombard has enraged right-wing whites by proposing a new constitutional system for one of the country's four provinces, Natal, that would have resulted in the election of a black chief executive.
He also has produced a plan for the whole country that would involve considerable decentralization and considerable sharing of political power among the various races.
Right-wingers see this as a dangerous trend because Professor Lombard is not an eccentric but is very much a part of the Afrikaner establishment. He also is an important adviser to Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha on economic affairs.
In spite of this, government spokesmen hurried to denounce his "Natal blueprints," a formal academic study that was commissioned by big business and the major farming interests in Natal Province who believe that the government's own traditional policies provide no hope for the future.
Not surprisingly, however, leading blacks in the province said they found it "very interesting."
And, although it would mean sharing power with the black majority, white business leaders and some of the main opposition politicians in the province favored the plan as well.
Professor Lombard was not at his home in Pretoria, the conservative, predominantly Afrikaans administrative capital of South Africa in Transvaal Province, when the bomb exploded at his offices at the university. He was at a Chamber of Commerce conference in Natal.
Nonetheless, whoever is out to frighten him tracked him to the village where he was staying and left a message at the hotel at 3 a.m. -- about five hours after the bomb went off -- warning that the professor's house might be bombed as well.
Shaken by events, Professor Lombard said: "I can hardly believe that an attack of this nature can be made upon a person who has tried to develop an approach that is basically a long-term framework for the Afrikaner to attain his identity."
Other Afrikaaner academics also disclosed recently that they had been receiving threats from right-wingers.
One of them, Prof. Nick Wiehahn, said that he himself has "been living under a cloud of death threats" for the past 16 months. He is head of the government's Wiehahn Commission, which proposed a range of industrial reforms designed to give blacks trade union rights and opportunities to become skilled artisans in trades they had been forbidden to enter.
He is leaving his present job to do more sheltered academic research, though he denies this is a direct result of the threats.
Another Afrikaner academic to fall foul of right-wingers because they found his views controversial is Prof. Floors Van Jaarsveld, who was actually tarred and feathered by angry whites at a public meeting some time ago.