Police clashed today for the third time this week with residents of this mixed-race township who were angered by authorities' refusal to release the bodies of three youths killed in disturbances earlier this week.
The Moslem residents were particularly offended because police had refused to allow the youths' families to pick up their bodies in time for the swift burial required by their faith.
"Now there is a bond of radicalism in Thornton Road that is not going to go away," said Baptist minister Graham Cyster, as he watched a group of residents give vent to their anger by trying to set fire to a bulldozer they had taken from municipal workers who happened to drive down the street. At least 60 persons were treated for shotgun wounds and the effects of tear gas by a local doctor today.
Among those wounded on Thornton Road today was a British reporter, Michael Hornsby of The Times of London, who was hit by 50 shotgun pellets in the back, legs and head as police opened fire on the crowd. He was treated by a local doctor.
Three persons were killed last night and today in clashes with the police in other Colored, or mixed-race, townships outside Cape Town, bringing to seven the number who have died in these townships since Tuesday.
There were clashes in many of the Colored townships today with scores of injuries reported.
The trouble on Thornton Road began on Tuesday when police, in what has been described as an ambush, leaped out of wooden boxes on the back of a decoy truck and opened fire on a group of stone-throwing youths, killing two of them and wounding several children. A third youth died later of injuries.
Tension built up yesterday when residents said the police were refusing to release the bodies of those who had been killed until their parents signed statements acknowledging that they had been involved in stoning incidents, agreeing to limit the number of persons who would attend the funerals to 50 and allowing the coffins to be conveyed to the funerals in police vans.
The parents refused to do this, residents said.
Two of the dead youths were Moslems, and the failure by the police to hand over the bodies angered local Moslems whose faith requires funerals to take place as soon after death as possible. About one-tenth of South Africa's 2.6 million Colored people are Moslems.
Police denied later that they had demanded declarations from the parents, saying the bodies had not been handed over because of confusion involving the undertakers.
As a group of white liberal politicians called at 101 Thornton Rd., the bullet-scarred home of Zanap Rayklief where one of the youths was killed and three children were wounded Tuesday, a crowd gathered outside. The politicians were there to investigate the shooting.
Some rocks were thrown at the police, who opened fire with shotguns and tear-gas launchers. Two youths were wounded.
Rayklief, a mother of two who was at home during both shooting incidents, told reporters in agitated tones how police in the decoy truck sprayed her house with shotgun fire Tuesday, smashing crockery in the kitchen and hitting her in the shoulder. The police kicked open the front door and ran in after the wounded children, Rayklief said. They found the friend of her daughter Shafwaan, Shaun Mahmoud, 16, lying fatally wounded on a bed.
Allegations of callous behavior by police were rife among members of the crowd who milled about Thornton Road after today's shooting at the Rayklief home. There was no way reporters could verify these allegations, but they were indicative of a mood of deep bitterness.