Uniformed black militants brandished wooden models of AK47 rifles and there were open threats of attacks in white areas at another emotion-charged funeral rally in South Africa today, when 11 blacks killed in a clash with police three weeks ago were buried in the eastern Cape Province town of Queenstown.
The rally was marked by one of the most open displays of black militancy yet seen in South Africa. Flags of the underground African National Congress were displayed, and there were songs in praise of its guerrilla wing.
After the funeral, black priests defused a tense confrontation between armed police and a crowd of about 20,000 mourners.
As the big crowd moved away from the graveyard they were confronted by police in three armored personnel carriers, and another bloody clash seemed imminent until 18 priests in long black cassocks stepped out from the crowd and walked up to the heavy vehicles.
They negotiated with police officers, who eventually allowed the crowd to leave the graveyard if they dispersed peacefully.
One speaker, Stone Sizane, publicity secretary for the activist United Democratic Front, referred to the 11 dead as amabutho, a Xhosa word that means fighters.
Accusing the government of disarming the black people, then bringing in its security forces to shoot them, Sizane said: "Enough is enough. Now is the time to hit back.
"We are now forming people's committees to organize the amabutho to hit where it will be most effective, not only in the black townships," Sizane added.
The Nov. 17 "Queenstown massacre," as speakers at the funeral called it, was the third mass killing by police in South Africa this year: 20 blacks were shot to death in Langa township outside Uitenhage on March 22, and 13 in Mamelodi township outside Pretoria on Nov. 21.