Mandela rails at 'corrupt government': Chaotic scenes as thousands gather to attend funeral ceremony of assassinated ANC leader - 'Third force' blamed for latest killings

AROUND 100,000 African National Congress supporters packed into an overflowing Soweto football stadium yesterday to pay their last respects to their assassinated hero, Chris Hani. A quarter of those set off after the ceremony on a 30-mile pilgrimage to his last resting place, a cemetery in a white suburb east of Johannesburg where Hani - who had asked to be lain there - was the first black man to be buried.

The day's toll was six dead, 14 injured, up to a dozen houses looted or burnt and a handful of vehicles set alight. Of the dead, three were ANC supporters allegedly killed by Inkatha gunmen, one was an ANC supporter allegedly shot by a policeman, and two were white men whose charred remains were found inside one of the houses burnt down by ANC youths.

The general feeling among ANC leaders last night, some of whom had initially feared a bloodbath, was that it could have been a lot worse. Indeed, it had been worse on Sunday night in Sebokeng township, south of Johannesburg, where four unidentified black gunmen went on a shooting spree, killing 19 people, including three children.

The shooting, according to ANC officials, bore all the hallmarks of a 'third force' killing, meaning that they were allegedly carried out by hit- men linked to far-right sectors of the security forces.

During the first four hours of daylight yesterday the scenes outside the Soweto stadium were chaotic. Youths pelted police vehicles with stones and one, in a demented gesture, opened fire on a police helicopter with an AK-47 rifle. The police retaliated with tear-gas and gunshots. Running skirmishes continued through the morning and by 10am a black plume of smoke rose behind the stadium from an isolated house near by.

It was exactly at that moment, with the pop-pop of the tear-gas reports ringing in the distance, that Hani's coffin was carried into the stadium. The crowd, raucous until then, rose as one and held an absolute silence for 10 minutes while a brass band on the pitch gave a slow, dirge-like rendering of the always spine-chillingly moving African national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel'i Africa (God bless Africa).

Then the speeches began. Joe Slovo, the chairman of the South African Communist Party, blamed 'the system' and 'the neo-fascist right' for Hani's death. 'Let us warn them,' he said, 'that however many of us they kill, they represent a dying cause. They are cavemen, they are the savages of our land.'

Mzwake Mbuli, 'the people's poet', drove the crowd into a frenzy, extolling 'the tradition of no surrender', and delivering a breathless, booming denunciation of Hani's killers: 'They belong to the dustbin of history. To the museum of shame.'

Nelson Mandela dropped his customary peace rhetoric and, capturing the mood, thundered against President F W de Klerk, his cabinet and his security forces. 'The government is illegitimate, unrepresentative, corrupt and unfit to govern,' he said.

He said that Hani's murder was consistent with a pattern of killings of ANC officials during the last two decades. The third force was to blame, he said, a 'secret web of hit-men and covert operations . . . funded by our taxes'.

The Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel, and the chief of the army, General George Meiring, had spearheaded a propaganda campaign against Hani which had created the climate for his killing. They, he said, 'are as much responsible for the death of Chris Hani as the man who pulled the trigger, and the conspiracy that plotted his murder'.

The longest, noisiest and speediest funeral cortege South Africa had seen then barrelled down the highways to the lower-middle-class white suburb of Elsburg. Most people travelled in buses crammed to three times their capacity. They stood on the roofs, hung out of the windows and clung to the windscreens, half-blocking the drivers' views.

At Elsburg the police were waiting in strength, a handful of gunmen of Eugene Terre-Blanche's AWB among them, tellng all who would listen that they were prepared to shoot. The shots, when they came, were in the cemetery itself: the reverent silence of the crowd was broken as the coffin was lowered, by an ANC man at the graveside in military uniform who fired a salute into the air. That was the cue for half a dozen mourners to let off, amid great excitement, a few anarchic rounds of their own.

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam