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South Africa closes popular black newspaper

The South African government Tuesday shut down an anti-apartheid newspaper for 12 weeks, contending the New Nation threatened public safety. A decree issued by Home Affairs Minister Stoffel Botha said further issues of the black-oriented weekly newspaper are ``totally prohibited'' through June 10.

The move came a day after the newspaper, published by the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, lost a court appeal to forestall government action while it challenged state-of-emergency censorship regulations.

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New Nation acting editor Gabu Tugwana said closure was ``an action against the whole media,'' adding: ``There are many more axes hanging in the air that will fall on many others.''

With a circulation of 50,000 to 60,000, New Nation is the largest in South Africa to devote virtually its entire content, including sports and entertainment sections, to politically-related developments. It's editor, Zwelakhe Sisulu, has been detained without charge for 16 months.

Emergency law gives Pretoria nearly unlimited powers to deal with newspapers it feels contribute to unrest. In a warning to the paper, Botha cited several items he said threatened public safety, promoted revolution, and enhanced the image of banned groups, including:

A picture of Oliver Tambo, head of the outlawed African National Congress.

An advertisement quoting a Psalm and urging Pretoria to abolish torture.

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