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Crossroads of South Africa

Mary Anne Weaver's article [``28 years of speaking up for the world's silenced voices,'' May 28] referred to the ``imprisonment . . . and . . . torture'' of the Rev. Simon Farisani. Mr. Farisani was arrested and imprisoned by the police of the Republic of Venda and not by the South African police. The Republic of Venda has an elected black government with a black head of state having the same de facto status as any other government or head of state. South Africa and Venda exchange ambassadors and enjoy a diplomatic relationship. It is difficult to understand how South Africa can be held responsible for the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Farisani by a neighboring country whose police force and prison system do not and cannot fall under South African control. D. Kent-Brown South African Vice-consul Consulate General (Press and information) New York

Today the vast majority of white South Africans accept that power must be shared fairly but face an agonizing dilemma -- how to abolish apartheid without the implementation of a one-man, one-vote system which could well lead to a Marxist takeover. The African National Congress (ANC) was initially a nonviolent organization and endeavored to bring about reform by peaceful means. Frustration appears to have changed all that. Intimidation and every form of violence are now being used by the ANC to ensure that the real leaders of the black people cannot be elected and come to the fore.

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That apartheid is being abolished at an accelerated rate receives little recognition. The significant reforms intended to defuse the situation and lead to productive negotiations have had the opposite effect. The result is more violence, increased demands by militant left-wing blacks, and a growing number of whites rallying to join the ranks of those resisting President Botha's initiatives to end apartheid.

There is still sufficient goodwill and tolerance among both blacks and whites to achieve a just solution that would be the highest sense of right under the circumstances. The greatest need is for the enlightened understanding, encouragement, and prayers of all who wish to help the people of this beautiful country. Alan Flederman Cape Town

In your letters column of May 20 the US State Department's J. Douglas Holladay, director of the South Africa Working Group, insists: ``We believe that the solution to South Africa's fundamental problems is negotiations . . . , not violence.'' But it seems clear that a linkage exists between South Africa's May 29 ``unprecedented'' military raids into Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and the US's attack on Libya.

The South African attacks are not at all unprecedented. The precedent is the Libyan raid.

The US cannot credibly ask South Africa to use negotiations rather than violence -- not when we choose violence ourselves. Frederic Hunter Santa Barbara, Calif.

Articles by Prof. Robert I. Rotberg [``Blacks vs. blacks in South Africa,'' Feb. 8-14, International Edition] and Ned Temko call for correction and comment. Professor Rotberg says the recent fighting among black tribes is caused by apartheid. One of the scourges of Africa is tribal fighting, and it existed before apartheid and the present South African government were dreamed of. The Transvaal gold mines have had the problem of factional fighting ever since they started in 1886.

Certainly there is unemployment, but why doesn't Professor Rotberg give one of the fundamental reasons? The black population explosion has been outstripping South Africa's capacity to provide jobs.

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Temko writes that blacks have only 13 percent of South Africa, while whites have 87 percent. Yet half of the 87 percent consists of desert. Regarding the 13 percent, the population explosion has over-filled the blacks' traditional and formerly fertile lands and they are fast being turned into desert. Keith Pulvermacher Cape Town

Always inserted in the Monitor's news is the recounting of deaths. The articles imply that South African whites are responsible, rarely mentioning that in most cases it is black rioters who are killing other blacks suspected of working with the government. What about adjacent countries that have been killing blacks on a nonstop basis for many years? The number of blacks murdered in South Africa amounts to peanuts compared with these. Frank Caide Ajijic, Mexico

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