UNEASY CALM IN EYE OF S. AFRICA STORM

By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Sunday, April 3, 1994

JOHANNESBURG—The epicenter of the violence that rattled this city last week remained a place of frayed nerves and bullet-riddled glass yesterday.

Outside the headquarters of the African National Congress Party, a security guard quickly confronted two visitors who stepped beneath the red and white tape strung chest high along the sidewalk.

Seemingly out of nowhere a car with three men wearing sunglasses and looks of suspicion pulled up to the curb.

Once convinced the visitors came in peace, the guard relaxed enough to talk about the violent moments that led late last week to a war-like state of emergency being declared in the Natal province—the Zulu heartland.

“The shooting here lasted only five minutes,” he said, standing beside the display window commemorating the upcoming all-race elections.

“Over there,” he added, pointing across Plein St., to a 12-story apartment building. “Snipers started firing. And if there’s trouble again, I will know what to do.”

The ground floor of the apartment building contain a row of shops, including a grocery store.

The owner, Raman Mancha, said, “All my windows would be gone if I hadn’t put my metal gates down because I felt the trouble coming.”

As an Indian, Mancha too was denied equal rights under apartheid.

“I could not live in the better suburbs or buy property there,” he said. “South Africa has to change. You can’t oppress people. It’s wrong.”

In a park just down the street on this fall day, black street vendors peddled trinkets and corn cooked over open fire.

A man in a New York Knicks cap stopped his jog to say hello. In front of the “Chicago” bar and grill, a man named Tom cut hair in a makeshift stall.

Tom said he was at home when the violence occurred.

“I don’t know about politics. I just hope there’s no more trouble,” he said.