Storm warnings in South Africa: 'Big war' feared after killing of ANC activist - Police guard was refused - Two whites burnt to death in township

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The Independent Online
A DARK CLOUD of foreboding hung over South Africa yesterday after the killing of Chris Hani, the general secretary of the Communist Party and a senior African National Congress leader, on Saturday.

Despite appeals for calm from political leaders, violence erupted around the country and at least five people were killed, two in clashes involving police.

An angry crowd burned two white men to death and cut out part of the tongue of a third in Lwandle township, near Cape Town. Earlier in the day, an ANC spokesman in the Western Cape had said South Africa was 'going to pay a very big price for the loss of Chris Hani'.

Police shot dead at least one man after a crowd gathered in a Soweto squatter camp to commemorate Mr Hani. Residents said three people had been killed, but the police denied that. In Phola Park squatter camp, east of Johannesburg, the ANC said another man had died fighting police.

Elsewhere, a police sergeant was shot dead in his vehicle, three policemen were injured by a petrol bomb and gunmen fired on white motorists. Police believed the incidents were in response to Mr Hani's death.

In Natal, South Africa's bloodiest province, Harry Gwala, Natal's most influential ANC leader, called for the temporary suspension of multi-party talks and for the launch of a campaign of 'mass action'.

The shooting of Mr Hani was the first assassination of a national figure since the prime minister Hendrick Verwoerd was stabbed to death by a deranged parliamentary messenger in 1966. But the consequences are far more politically charged.

Mr Hani was after Nelson Mandela the most popular leader in the country among the blacks. Among the radical township youth he was revered as a personification of black defiance.

A Polish emigre, Janusz Jakob Walus, 40, who has links with far-right groups, is to appear in court tomorrow charged with Mr Hani's murder.

Police said that they found a hit-list in Mar Walus's home that included the names of Mr Mandela and the Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, as well as Joe Slovo, the Communist Party chairman; Mac Maharaj, a leading ANC strategist; Richard Goldstone, who is heading a judicial investigation into political violence, and a newspaper editor and a senior political reporter.

Yesterday Mr Mandela said the ANC's deputy president, Walter Sisulu, wrote last year to the Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel, seeking protection for Mr Hani, known to be high on the far right's death lists. No such assistance was provided. It also emerged that no ANC official, not even Mr Mandela, received regular police protection although, as Mr Slovo noted, they did receive 'special police surveillance'.

At a press conference yesterday the ANC's top national leadership rejected Mr Gwala's proposal for mass action. Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary general, said the ANC and its allies felt it was more urgent than ever to press swiftly ahead with talks on the country's first democratic elections.

Twelve hours earlier Mr Mandela had pleaded on television for the population to keep calm and not help those who hoped Mr Hani's death would derail the democratic process.

Hit lists have been compiled before in beery right-wing circles. If Mr Walus had killed Mr Hani and got away, he might have killed others. The ANC suspects he was not working alone. Shadowy far-right groups, some with links to retired senior army officers, proliferate in the Pretoria area. Someone must have given Mr Walus Mr Hani's address and perhaps told him he had given his bodyguard the Easter weekend off.

ANC officials conceded privately that Mr Hani's security arrangements had not been of the best. He went out alone in his car to buy a newspaper and was shot in his driveway on his return. The gate at his home did not have the sort of electronic security system common in the traditionally white area where he lived.

Tensions will run high on Wednesday, designated by the ANC yesterday as a national day of mourning. Demonstrations and strikes are expected.

South Africa's President, F W de Klerk, sought to convince the public on television that the arrest of Mr Walus was the end of the matter. But a telephone survey of residents in Soweto, where tensions are particularly high, yielded responses along the lines of 'this is the end' and 'the big war is coming now'.

Mandela plea ignored, page 10

Obituary, page 18

(Photograph omitted)