Former U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick's depiction of the violence in Natal, South Africa {op-ed, June 11}, was inaccurate. She said, "my inquiries strongly indicate {Chief} Buthelezi's Inkatha is generally the reactor {to violence}, the ANC coalition the initiator." But statistics compiled by independent monitoring groups show otherwise.

The province of Natal includes the "self-governing homeland" of KwaZulu, headed by Zulu chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi. The chief's political organization, Inkatha, opposes forces affiliated with the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Of 200 violent incidents recorded between January 1990 and April 1990, 195 were ascribed to Inkatha and/or the KwaZulu police, which chief Buthelezi heads. Eighty-five persons were killed in those attacks, all non-Inkatha supporters. In an escalation of violence that began in mid-March, all attacks were made by heavily armed Inkatha regiments against defenseless ANC-supporting townships. Some 14,000 residents fled their homes to evade the violence. In camps set up to accommodate these displaced persons, 95 percent of the "internal refugees" were ANC supporters.

When violence began in 1987, many attacks were led or coordinated by so-called warlords, who are associated with Inkatha. At least one such warlord is on Inkatha's central committee. During 1988, a series of charges were brought against some of these men for crimes ranging from murder and rape to arson, theft and destruction of property. However, the South African and KwaZulu police declined to incarcerate or disarm the warlords, and the suits were discontinued after several plaintiffs and witnesses were assassinated.

Further, in 1987 more than 734 ANC/UDF/COSATU supporters were detained allegedly because of participation in unrest-related violence. Although Inkatha supporters were reported to have killed more than 125 persons, not a single Inkatha supporter was detained that year.

Police have participated in Inkatha attacks on ANC-supporting townships, have armed Inkatha forces and have refused to stop Inkatha attacks. The Natal Supreme Court has found it necessary to order police to protect communities threatened by Inkatha. Not surprisingly, the KwaZulu police are viewed as principal protagonists of the violence.

Chief Buthelezi has long been regarded in the West as a moderate who espouses peace through negotiation. In fact, KwaZulu is a one-party state, and the ANC, despite being unbanned in South Africa, remains banned in KwaZulu. Numerous attempts to end the Natal conflict have been initiated by the ANC/UDF/COSATU coalition. In each instance, the talks have been scuttled by Inkatha or because of strategic government detention of key negotiators.

Jeane Kirkpatrick's use of the term "black-on-black violence" to describe the events in Natal obscured the way in which the conflict has been generated and sustained by apartheid, and South African State President de Klerk has failed to explain why his government with all its resources cannot end the conflict.

After three years of near civil war in Natal, the death toll in Natal now exceeds that of Beirut and Northern Ireland combined. It is thus urgent that U.S. government officials and others, like Jeane Kirkpatrick, pressure chief Buthelezi to come to the peace table with serious intent. NICHOLAS R. L. HAYSOM MARTIN POTGIETER Washington The writers are members of a law firm that represents many of the victims of the violence in Natal.