ANC mass action starts to roll in memory of Hani: Blacks vent sorrow and anger at leader's assassination in protests. John Carlin reports from Johannesburg
Tuesday 13 April 1993
A national stayaway from work is planned tomorrow, when memorial services will be held in cities and townships all over the country, and marches are scheduled for the rest of the week in Johannesburg and other cities.
Nerves were fraught yesterday both in ANC and government circles at the dangers such actions might hold but, after a weekend which registered sporadic incidents of violence, the feared catastrophe did not materialise.
A shop was burnt down in Kagiso township, west of Johannesburg, and in Katlehong, to the south-east, journalists were shot at and a number of vehicles burnt. But in neighbouring Vosloorus a five-mile march by ANC supporters, though tense, passed off peacefully. In Cape Town some 10,000 ANC marchers, some of them armed, descended on a police station, but again no incidents were reported.
One of their leaders, indicating that the greater dangers lie ahead, told the crowd: 'If any of our people are shot when we march again on Wednesday we will burn down Cape Town.'
For all the rhetoric and the massing of angry people, the police said that no injuries had been reported anywhere yesterday. At least six people died over the weekend however, including three white men burnt to death near Cape Town in an attack believed to have been a response to the killing of Hani, the ANC's most popular leader after Nelson Mandela.
'People are very, very angry. It is necessary for their anger to be channelled,' the ANC Johannesburg regional chief, Tokyo Sexwale, said yesterday, explaining plans for 'rolling mass action' around the country.
The first demonstration is planned in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, today, to coincide with the scheduled appearance in court of the Polish emigre Janusz Walus, who is to be formally charged with Hani's murder.
Mr Walus, 40, who came to South Africa 11 years ago to flee from Communism, was arrested within minutes of the shooting. Police found that a weapon he was carrying was the one which killed Hani. The gun had been stolen by Piet Rudolph, then secretary-general of Eugene Terreblanche's far-right Afrikaner Resistance movement (AWB).
Yesterday Mr Terreblanche said that Mr Walus had been a member of his organisation since 1986. Mr Terreblanche, who persistently exhorts his members to war against 'the Communists', said he only disapproved of the attack because it was an assassination and not a killing in a real war. He added: 'If it had been a proper battle I could have killed Mr Hani myself.'
The police have appointed a team of 14 detectives to follow up all possible clues in the murder. Particularly alarming was the discovery of an alleged hit-list in Mr Wallus's Pretoria home including the names of Nelson Mandela and the South African Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, seen in right-wing circles as the most dovish member of the cabinet.
The one political group in South Africa that has not lamented the death of Hani is the World Apartheid Movement which is known to have a shadowy network of far-right contacts in Europe. The WAM leader, Koos Vermeulen, said his organisation sympathised with Mr Walus and would provide him with financial support for his court case.
The ANC, however, aware of the depth of feeling stirred up by the assassination, issued a statement late on Sunday calling on its supporters not to carry out attacks against whites. People should remember that the reason Mr Walus was caught so promptly was the quick thinking of a white woman, the ANC said. It was one of Hani's neighbours who wrote down the registration number of the car Mr Wallus was driving and immediately phoned the police.
The anxiety in the white population was expressed yesterday by Johannesburg's Afrikaans establishment newspaper, Beeld. Beeld warned: 'One rash outburst now, one stray bullet, one act of vengeance can bring down the delicate structure of negotiations and unleash satanic forces.'
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