JOHANNESBURG, AUG. 22 -- South African officials sought today to arrange a meeting between black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela and Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, after renewed violence between their followers in ghetto townships around Johannesburg claimed 105 more lives. Today's clashes brought the death toll in 10 days to 510.
The bloodiest fighting was in Vosloorus, a township 20 miles east of Johannesburg, where 49 people died in bitter clashes between Zulu supporters of Buthelezi's Inkatha Movement living in migrant worker hostels and township residents who support Mandela's African National Congress.
As the violence resumed with new intensity after a relatively quiet day Tuesday, President Frederik W. de Klerk announced that he had met separately with the two leaders and put pressure on them to overcome obstacles to peace talks. Mandela's ANC announced the formation of a commission to explore the possibility of a meeting with Buthelezi.
A spokesman for the ANC, Pallo Zordan, said the four-man commission would consult with the ANC's allied organizations in deciding whether to have a "high-level meeting" with Buthelezi.
"I want it understood at this point in time that a high-level meeting does not necessarily mean a meeting between Buthelezi and Mandela . . . but at the same time understand that it does not exclude that," he added.
De Klerk's statement said he had held separate in-depth discussions with both black leaders, whose organizations are involved in a bloody power struggle that began in Natal Province three years ago and spread into the Johannesburg area last month. He said he believed both leaders shared his concern about the violence and agreed on the need to restore order.
De Klerk said he had urged them to overcome obstacles to a dialogue between their organizations. "It is of vital importance that the proposed high-level meeting between the organizations takes place as soon as possible," he added.
According to witnesses, young ANC militants in Vosloorus launched attacks on the boarded-up hostels and burned barricades blocking most of the streets in the township.
Violence in Kagiso, west of the capital, claimed 27 lives when young ANC members reportedly attacked and set fire to the township council building. Fighting in Tokoza, Daveyton, Katlehong and Tembisa townships brought the day's death toll to 105, one of the highest in the current wave of violence.
The issue of whether Mandela and Buthelezi should meet has become contentious.
Buthelezi has been calling for such a meeting for months, but the ANC has resisted, arguing that it would be a "political jamboree" and accusing Buthelezi of requesting the talks to boost his flagging status as a national leader. Opinion polls show Buthelezi has support from only 2 percent of the blacks outside his regional base, Natal, compared to the ANC's 84 percent.
Mandela hinted at a possible meeting when he addressed a rally in Durban after his release from prison in February, but the prospect seemed to fade quickly. During a lengthy telephone conversation, Mandela and Buthelezi are said to have agreed in principle to meet and set up a working committee.
However, according to sources close to Mandela, Buthelezi announced the meeting before the committee was appointed. He also said the talks would be held in his KwaZulu tribal homeland, the stronghold of a regional Inkatha leader, David Ntombela, who is unpopular among ANC supporters there.
Angry regional leaders of the ANC reportedly drove through the night to Johannesburg and demanded that Mandela call off the meeting, which he did.
Buthelezi has used the cancellation of the meeting as evidence that the ANC is pressing Mandela not to participate in the peace talks.
Since then, resistance to a meeting has intensified within the ANC, and observers here have suggested that if Mandela were to agree to meet Buthelezi now it might split his movement.