Twenty-four blacks died Friday in the worst factional violence this year, and bombs damaged two governing party offices ahead of next week's apartheid referendum, police and witnesses said.
Nelson Mandela said any attempt to reimpose apartheid would mean civil war and a new international boycott of South Africa.If the right wing "comes to power and carries out its policies, civil war is unavoidable," the African National Congress leader told a news conference. "The forces of peace inside and outside the country are too strong to allow the return of oppression."
Violence in black townships has escalated sharply this month, with about 100 deaths in the past 10 days, according to the independent Human Rights Commission.
The one-day death toll of 24 is the worst in political violence this year.
Some black opposition groups claim the violence has been orchestrated to undermine white support for a referendum Tuesday on ending apartheid.
Mandela, who has previously accused police of instigating fighting, said he did not believe President F.W. de Klerk's government was behind the new violence because it would hurt its chances of winning the referendum. De Klerk has promised to resign if the referendum is rejected.
De Klerk's National Party has come under attack several times this week, presumably by right-wing whites fiercely opposed to the South African president's plans to end apartheid and have the country's 5 million whites share power with the 30 million blacks.
Today, de Klerk was hit in the head with a poster and jostled by right-wing students who jeered "Traitor!" as he arrived for a speech at the University of Pretoria, the nation's largest.
De Klerk was not hurt, but several scuffles broke out between the students and de Klerk's security guards.
Earlier today, 18 people were killed and 22 injured when rival groups clashed with guns, spears and knives in the Umlazi township outside the Indian Ocean city of Durban, police Col. Moses Khanyile said.
Many of the dead were women and children, residents told the independent South African Press Association. Two victims, a mother with a child strapped to her back, both suffered fatal hacking wounds to the head.
The ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party, the two leading black groups, have been battling for supremacy in the area for years.
An ANC official, Bheki Cele, said his organization had warned police on Thursday that trouble was likely in the township.
Many residents fled the area for their safety.