JOHANNESBURG, JULY 20 -- A member of Parliament from the opposition Progressive Federal Party today demanded the dismissal of Cape Town's police riot squad chief following the tear-gassing of pallbearers and clergymen at the funeral of an African National Congress member on Saturday.
The member of Parliament, Jan Van Eck, said he witnessed the incident and was preparing an official complaint to submit to the divisional police commissioner and the Ministry of Law and Order. It will name Police Maj. Dolf Oudendaal, who, Van Eck charged, ordered security forces to fire tear gas cannisters at the funeral procession and into an Anglican church in the mixed-race township of Bonteheuwel, near Cape Town.
Van Eck said Oudendaal "completely lost control of himself" when mourners refused to remove an ANC flag from the coffin of Ashley Kriel, 22, who was shot to death July 9 when police went to his home to arrest him. According to Van Eck, who was present at the funeral, Oudendaal shouted, "Get the tear gas, men. Shoot! Shoot!"
Van Eck, a member of Parliament from the Cleremont district near Durban, made his allegations in a telephone interview. A lengthy version of his eyewitness account also appeared in today's Cape Times newspaper.
A police spokesman in Pretoria said, "A few incidents took place at the funeral. Tear gas was used to disperse small crowds of people. There were no injuries that we know of, and no arrests were made." The police command said it would make no comment about Van Eck's specific allegations.
According to Van Eck, a large number of tear gas shells were fired directly at the mourners and clergymen as Kriel's coffin was borne out of the church to be driven to a nearby cemetery for burial.
Van Eck said Oudendaal was in charge of a large contingent of security forces that included armored vehicles, two helicopters, vans with police dogs, a water cannon and a pepper fog machine. The mourners numbered about 3,000. They were in defiance of police-imposed restrictions limiting the participants to 800, barring political speeches and outlawing banners such as the ANC flag.
Van Eck said, "It was the most disgusting spectacle I've ever seen: heavily armed policemen firing almost point blank at pallbearers and clergymen. Old women and children came out of the church gasping and choking. I thought he had gone mad."
Meanwhile, an independent antiapartheid monitoring group, the Detainees' Parents Support Committee, today said it estimates that as many as 3,000 people are still being held under emergency detention laws.
However, the committee, in its latest report, said the exact number is not clear following the release of more than 1,000 detainees last month when the state of emergency was extended for another year. The committee said that since June 11 "there have been new detentions in most areas."
United Press International reported from Cape Town:
Rioting students, angry over disciplinary hearings against mixed-race teachers, today hurled a home-made bomb at police and burned and vandalized cars, police and witnesses said.
"One police officer was slightly injured when a home-made explosive device was thrown into a police vehicle" in the suburb of Wynberg, a police spokesman said in Pretoria. He also confirmed reports that a car was torched in the Bokaap area near central Cape Town. School sources said police used whips and dogs to try to disperse students who rampaged through Bokaap.