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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
SA worker dragged to death
Sasolburg
South African police are investigating the death of a black labourer who was allegedly chained to the back of a truck and then dragged more than five kilometres along a road.

The suspect, Pieter Odendaal, 44, was arrested after police were alerted to a vehicle apparently dragging a body through the town of Sasolburg in Free State province, about 80km (50miles) south of Johannesburg.

Police followed a trail of blood to a field where they found the body, with a piece of wire twisted around his ankle.

They then traced the route of the vehicle to Mr Odendaal's office, where he was arrested.

Employee

The dead man was identified as Mosoko Rampuru, 37 - an employee of Mr Odendaal's construction company.

Mr Odendaal was remanded in custody until a court appearance next week, when he is expected to apply for bail, a police spokesman said.

Our correspondent Greg Barrow says the case has forced South Africans to ask themselves how much their country has moved towards the goal of racial tolerance and understanding in the six years since the end of apartheid.

Spotlight on racism

On Wednesday, human rights groups and delegates from across South African society will gather for a national conference on racism.

Those attending the conference are expected to consider evidence gathered at a series of public hearings into racism, which were held in cities across the country earlier this year.

Most of those who attended the hearings were black South Africans, who spoke of a climate of racial tension particularly in the rural areas.

Human rights activists say indiscriminate violent attacks by white farmers on black farm labourers are still a fact of life in the countryside.

They say that although racism is less common in the big cities, the rural areas have barely moved on from the days of white rule, and black people enjoy few of the rights and dignity awarded to them since the end of apartheid.

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See also:

24 Aug 00 | Africa
Racism 'pervasive' in SA media
26 Jan 00 | Africa
South Africa bans discrimination
28 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa's new racism
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Apartheid 'still alive' in SA
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