Mr Hani, 50, was until recently chief of staff of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), and was among the ANC's five most influential figures and an idol of young people in the black townships. Leaders across the political spectrum were unanimous in condemning the murder.
Mr Hani, who lived in a traditionally right-wing white suburb east of Johannesburg, had got out of his car at 10.25am when a man emerged from one across the road and shot him four times in the head and chest. A witness described the car to the police and shortly afterwards a suspect was arrested in posession of two guns.
Police sources told the Johannesburg Sunday Times that the suspect, Jan Wallus, was a South African citizen who fled Communism in his native Poland 10 years ago.
President F W de Klerk expressed shock at the murder, offered condolences to Mr Hani's journalist wife, Dimpho, and his three daughters, and called on 'all leaders to show maximum restraint in the face of this act and to exercise the strongest possible discipline over their followers'.
A shaken Nelson Mandela, the ANC leader, speaking from his holiday home in the Transkei, blamed Mr Hani's death on 'sinister forces' opposed to peace. He appealed for calm.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it was ironic that Mr Hani should have been killed at the end of a week when he had issued numerous calls for peace. 'I believe the killing is a desperate attempt to sabotage the negotiations process,' he said. 'Let us not allow his killers success in their nefarious purpose of getting our country to go up in flames, because it could easily go up in flames.'
The archbishop's fears were reflected in the foreboding that prevailed among black and white South Africans last night.
Some whites, however, judged that the moment had come for celebration. A number of callers to Johannesburg's Radio 702 voiced opinions along the lines of 'The only good Communist is a dead Communist' and 'We're going to have a party'.
People's hero, page 18
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