Mandela plea for calm falls on deaf ears: Soweto sees worst of SA violence in wake of Hani assassination
Monday 12 April 1993
Some sectors of the community appear to have responded more to the pictures than to the words. In incidents directly responding to the assassination of the ANC and Communist Party leader, police opened fire on angry crowds in two squatter camps near Johannesburg, killing, according to conflicting reports, between one and five people.
In Tembisa township, also near Johannesburg, a police sergeant was shot dead in his vehicle and, in a chilling reminder of an incident two weeks ago in which a mother and two children were killed, gunmen twice opened fire on white motorists - though, in these instances, no one was hurt.
Nelson Mandela, in a televised address to an anxious nation on Saturday, had appealed 'with all the authority at my command . . . to all our people to remain calm and honour the memory of Chris Hani by remaining a disciplined force for peace'.
At Chicken Farm squatter camp, in Soweto, where reporters saw the dead body of one man, Winnie Mandela led a group gathered to honour Hani in shouts of 'murderers' directed at the police.
The police version of what happened in Chicken Farm, which President F W de Klerk repeated in an interview yesterday on BBC radio, was that police on the scene had been shot at by the demonstrators and had returned fire. The police, who at first said the only victim had been a woman wounded in the hand, later confirmed a death. Winnie Mandela was reported to have intervened to prevent a number of people from being driven off in a police van.
Numerous other clashes between ANC supporters and police were reported in other parts of the country, but none of them proved fatal. Appeals for calm from Mr Mandela and President de Klerk appeared to have prevented disruption on an even wider scale. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for example, had warned on Saturday that the country could go up in flames.
The real test will come on Wednesday, classified yesterday by the ANC secretary-general, Cyril Ramaphosa, as a national day of mourning, when demonstrations and strikes are expected nationwide. A date, he said, had not yet been set for Hani's funeral, an occasion also certain to stretch the ANC's capacity to restrain the emotions of its more belligerent followers.
One factor working in favour of the ANC leadership, who fear delays in the negotiations process, was the unusual success of the South African police in apprehending the chief suspect within half an hour of the crime on Saturday morning.
The police indicated yesterday that they were confident Janusz Jakob Walus, a fiercely anti-Communist Polish emigre, was the man who fired the four bullets that killed Hani, general-secretary of the South African Communist Party and former chief of staff of the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation).
A police spokesman, Brigadier Frans Malherbe, said ballistic tests on firearms confiscated from Mr Walus, who is believed to have links with far- right political groups, had shown conclusively that one of his weapons had fired the fatal shots. The police also confirmed that residue tests on Mr Walus's hands had indicated he had used a gun on Saturday morning.
ANC officials said yesterday, however, that, contrary to police reports, they suspected more than one person had been involved in the assassination plot.
Mr Mandela said at yesterday's press conference the police had already failed on one score. He revealed the ANC's deputy president, Walter Sisulu, had written last year to the Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel, asking that special protection be afforded Hani, who was 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 any special protection on a regular basis from the police - although, as the Communist Party chairman, Joe Slovo, noted, they did receive 'special police surveillance'.
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