The victims started trickling in around noon at the clinic here. There were people with birdshot or rubber-bullet wounds, burns and cuts. A baby was brought in with a grazed head, a small girl with burns on her face and arms.
By nightfall they numbered more than 30, and clinic volunteers said three, including a 13-year-old boy, were dead.
The details were hazy but typical. A funeral this morning for two black activists killed in mysterious circumstances in this township near Johannesburg had led to gasoline-bomb attacks on several houses, shops and police cars. Police had opened fire with shotguns, rubber bullets and tear gas.
Journalists, barred by police from entering the area, were left to stand on the outskirts and count bodies as they were hauled into the clinic.
For the police, it was just another incident in the long, flat "situation report" they compile nightly. Tonight it showed four other deaths and two police injuries in scattered violence. But along with more than three dozen other incidents this week, it demonstrated that South Africa's civil violence, while receding from international attention, continues to burn at or near the same intensity as last year.
Incidents in townships throughout the country this week underscored both the extent and variety of the unrest, now in its 18th month. Three of this white-minority-ruled country's major urban centers remain under a state of emergency first announced nearly seven months ago.
Illegal demonstrations and school boycotts, renewed factional fighting between rival black groups, angry funerals and police raids all triggered the unrest, which followed the familiar patterns of last year, the most violent in South Africa's long history of racial struggle. At least 28 persons were killed this week, all but one of them black.
Among the dead were alleged rioters, including school-age children, shot by police; policemen killed by other rioters, and supporters of one black radical movement killed in ritual fashion, allegedly by members of another movement. There was also a shoot-out between black insurgents and the Army in which a rebel and a white soldier were killed.
The incidents included:
*A riot in a black township south of Durban in which three policemen were shot and hacked to death by a mob when their vehicle stalled.
*The discovery of five charred corpses of blacks who had been hacked to death and then set on fire in a township near Port Elizabeth. All had their hands and feet bound with thin wire and tires filled with gasoline placed around their necks and burned -- a ritual known as the "necklace" that is used against those whom black radicals consider to have sold out.
*A series of confrontations between police and youths in the black townships of Atteridgeville and Mamelodi, both outside the capital, Pretoria. At least four blacks were killed, including three boys, and a black policeman remains in critical condition from stab wounds.
As in the past, the violence often fed on itself. In Atteridgeville, trouble started a week ago after a funeral for a previous victim of violence. A 16-year-old high school student was shot in an incident that police say they are still probing.
His death, which residents blamed on police, caused a student walkout on Monday that led to another confrontation in which a 13-year-old was shot to death. The school boycott grew, and later in the week a policeman thought to have been involved in one of the deaths was stabbed repeatedly with a broken bottle by students. A march by mothers protesting the deaths was broken up with tear gas yesterday.
As in the past, police were blamed for provoking some of the incidents. On Thursday police using helicopters staged a raid on the Wilgespruit Fellowship Center, a church retreat west of Johannesburg, rounding up 55 black youths who had taken shelter there to escape the violence in the townships where they live.
Witnesses said the youths panicked and fled when the helicopters arrived and that police opened fire, without provocation, wounding at least two. A police spokesman said shots had been fired "at fleeing suspects in order to effect arrests."
In lifting the state of emergency in seven rural areas a week ago, President Pieter W. Botha said violence was subsiding. Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange recently told Parliament that unrest incidents in western Cape Province had plunged from 1,413 last October to only 162 in December and fewer still in January.
But the death toll remains high. In January alone, 169 persons died in political violence, the highest monthly figure yet, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations.
The institute put total deaths, as of Jan. 31, at 1,197, more than half of which have occurred since Botha declared the emergency in 36 cities and towns last July 21. Thirty-one areas are still covered.
The Rev. Allan Boesak, a founder of the United Democratic Front and a leading antiapartheid campaigner, called the government's claim that the unrest was subsiding "a desperate piece of propaganda that will not really be believed." He predicted that the unrest would continue until the government releases imprisoned black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela and lifts the state of emergency.
Some analysts believe that the government may be playing down the unrest to set the stage for lifting the emergency and, possibly, for Mandela's release. Officials must convince their white constituency that they have the situation under control before they can take such steps, it is argued.
United Press International reported from Johannesburg:
The white opposition Progressive Federal Party chose Colin Eglin, 60, to replace Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, who resigned as party leader last week.