South African Foreign Minister Roloef Botha yesterday said "chances were slim" that his government would agree to a February date for talks in New York on the independence of Southwest Africa (Namibia), set for the end of this year.

He said, however, that he would discuss it with his colleagues and 'make known our answer sometime next week," Washington Post correspondent Caryle Murphy reported.

If the February meeting does not take place, observers said it would be a setback for the negotiations toward an internationally sanctioned. Agreement on the future of Namibia.

The big five Western powers of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, West Germany and Canada -- have been trying unsuccessfully for almost three weeks to find convenient dates for both the South African government and the Southwest African government and the Southwest Africa people's organization (SWAPO) to come to New York for the talks.

Botha said he had accepted two proposed meeting dates in January, which were later cancelled, and that he was "tied up" in February.

Meanwhile, South African authorities began tearing down 2,000 shanties near Cape Town, ignoring appeals by black slum Dwellers. Armed police with dogs kept residents at bay.