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Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK

World: Africa

SA arms cache 'tip of the iceberg'

Violence before 1994 has been blamed on a "third force"

A vast arms cache discovered in South Africa on Tuesday represents only a fraction of a much larger consignment, according to the country's top prosecutor.

The seven tonnes of arms, found in the troubled province of KwaZulu-Natal, appear to support allegations that the apartheid state secretly fomented violence.

But several truckloads of weapons - part of a secret consignment sent to the province in 1993 - still had to be accounted for, Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka said on Wednesday.

He referred to a statement by Eugene de Kock, a self-confessed former assassin for the apartheid regime, which mentioned seven truckloads of arms being sent to KwaZulu-Natal.

"We've only recovered two trucks now," Mr Ngcuka said.

'No more hidden arms'

[ image: Eugene de Kock: Government agent said to have supplied the weapons]
Eugene de Kock: Government agent said to have supplied the weapons
But Phillip Powell, the senior Inkatha Freedom Party member who revealed the location of Tuesday's arms find, on Wednesday gave his assurance "that the entire weapons consignment has been recovered."

Mr Powell, a member of KwaZulu-Natal's provincial parliament, said he tipped off prosecutors in order to avoid prosecution.

Mr Ngcuka said there would be no immunity for Mr Powell until the whole arms consignment came to light.

"We want all the weapons, and we want all the people involved, because clearly he was not acting alone," the prosecutor said.

Mr Powell said De Kock - who is now serving several life jail sentences - had given the weapons to the IFP in the run-up to South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994.

At the time, hundreds of people were dying in fighting between the IFP and the present ruling party, the African National Congress.

'Secret force'

There have long been allegations that a covert force, backed by the apartheid government - the so-called "third force" - encouraged violence before the elections, in order to shake confidence in a future ANC-led government.

Rumours of weapon caches continue to be a bitter bone of contention between IFP and the ANC.

There have been fears of renewed violence in KwaZulu-Natal as elections approach again.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has denied knowledge of the arms cache.

"I can merely state that I am pleased that any arms caches are recovered because of the initiative, co-operation and goodwill of IFP leaders," Mr Buthelezi said.

BBC Africa Correspondent Jane Standley says Tuesday's discovery is nevertheless highly embarrassing both for the IFP and for its leader.

Mr Buthelezi is Home Affairs Minister in the present government, and is widely believed to be in line for the vice-presidency after the next elections, now that the ANC and IFP have buried many of their differences.

The IFP has its headquarters at Ulundi, only 50km (30 miles) from the site of the arms cache discovery.

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