Two Southeast Washington men were arrested yesterday morning after they allegedly commandeered a taxicab at gunpoint and ordered the driver to take them to the South African Embassy, D.C. police said.

Both men were apprehended after the driver managed to signal his radio dispatcher that he was in trouble and police stopped the cab about six blocks from the embassy, police officials said. They said the two men were arrested without incident after an officer reached into the cab, grabbed the gunman's arm and wrested the pistol from him.

Police said last night they still had not determined why the two men wanted to go to the embassy after boarding the cab about 9 a.m. in Anacostia.

The embassy, at 3051 Massachusetts Ave. NW, was the site of a continuing demonstration against South Africa's apartheid policy yesterday afternoon, but there was no indication that the incident was related to the protest.

Charged with kidnaping while armed were Lorando J. Dunkin, 29, of 2404 Elvans Rd. SE, and Wayne D. Hayes, 27, of 1306 T St. SE, police said.

According to the police account, cabdriver Robert Hawkins was already ferrying three passengers when he was dispatched by radio to the T Street address where he picked up two men and departed.

After Hawkins dropped off one of the earlier passengers, one of the two men produced a handgun and demanded that they be driven to the embassy, police said.

Police said Hawkins persuaded the gunman to release the other two passengers in the 100 block of U Street NW and that about the same time he was able to alert his dispatcher.