JOHANNESBURG, JUNE 12 -- The first year of South Africa's national state of emergency ended today as it was intended to end -- with enforced peacefulness.

Although the government last night reportedly released 800 black detainees after months in prison, candlelight vigils were held today in black townships for the thousands of antiapartheid campaigners who remain in prison without being formally charged.

Bells tolled in Anglican churches at the behest of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel laureate and prominent apartheid foe.

White women belonging to the liberal Black Sash organization held protest signs along the major thoroughfares into central Johannesburg, and black workers showed up at their jobs wearing black armbands.

Last June 12, President Pieter W. Botha stood before a joint session of Parliament to announce the unprecedented curbs on peaceful protest against his country's system of strict racial separation.

Botha's decree banned all unauthorized meetings, gave sweeping powers to the police to arrest suspected "subversives," conduct warrantless searches and detain political opponents indefinitely and imposed strict censorship on the press.

On Wednesday, in a 10-minute speech to Parliament, Botha extended the emergency for another year, vowing to "fight and not talk" with radical black forces attempting to end white minority rule in South Africa.

The police refused to confirm the number of detainees freed, but a spokesman for the Detainees Parents' Support Committee said that political prisoners held without charges had been released yesterday without restrictions.

Among those released was a black Catholic priest, the Rev. Smangaligo Mkhatswa, general secretary of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference, whose arrest on the first day of the emergency last year attracted worldwide protests. Mkhatswa still faces prosecution on charges of possessing a weapon.

An estimated 1,500 of the 25,000 detainees held at various times since the beginning of the emergency are reportedly still in prison.

Yesterday's reported releases came as the government issued statistics purporting to prove that the emergency has reduced political violence to its lowest level since 1984.

Apartheid opponents said today, however, that the appearance of calm is artificial. The government, they contend, while professing to favor power-sharing negotiations with blacks, may have ensured that the racial struggle will again turn violent because of growing frustration among the black majority of 23 million.

Moreover, the critics say, the emergency has raised the threshold of tolerance among the country's 4.5 million whites for deprivation of civil liberties. "Liberal traditions have been so subverted that it may take decades to restore them," says Helen Suzman, a white liberal member of Parliament.

Tom Lodge, a political scientist at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand who is regarded as an expert on black politics in South Africa, said the emergency's greatest impact has been to subdue the United Democratic Front, a coalition of more than 700 antiapartheid groups.

With most of the UDF leadership either in prison or in hiding, Lodge said in an interview, the coalition has become "rudderless and has lost its sense of purpose and motive." It still is capable from time to time of holding clandestine meetings attended by 200 or more regional delegates.

"It's the regional leaders who carry the brunt, and they've just been hammered," said Lodge, adding that most UDF leaders who have been released have avoided politics.

By damaging the UDF, however, the government inadvertently has shifted the focus of organized protest to the black trade union movement, which Lodge said is potentially much stronger.

"The unions are showing increasing will and muscle," despite efforts by the security police to undermine them, Lodge said. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) recently charged that security police bombed its Johannesburg headquarters, making the building uninhabitable.

More recently, in what the labor congress said was an attempt to counter the increasing politicization of the unions, the government proposed legislation that would require employers to deduct rent payments from the wages of workers who engage in antiapartheid rent strikes.

While the effectiveness of such alternative political structures in the townships as "people's courts," street committees and "people's education" largely has been blunted by the emergency, Lodge said, the revolutionary spirit has not.

"The organization is gone, but the spirit is still there. People don't want to admit that they are beaten, and because of that, they are not beaten. They {the government} can't quite lick them," said Lodge, noting that protest strikes and rent boycotts have grown during the emergency.

Meanwhile, senior government officials said they will press ahead with their three-pronged strategy of imposing law and order through the emergency, addressing the grievances of disenfranchised blacks and, eventually, negotiating a power-sharing solution.

But first, according to Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok, social order must be restored in order to create the proper climate for negotiations.

While incidents of racial unrest have declined dramatically in the past year, Vlok said in an interview, "the revolutionary climate in the country at the moment is still unacceptably high.

"I hope and trust that the people will have the courage to come foward to talk," Vlok said in a meeting in Cape Town with several foreign correspondents. "It is impossible to win in South Africa through the barrel of a gun."