Violence erupts in South Africa Clashes in wake of Hani assassination leave 2 black protesters, 2 whites dead

April 12, 1993|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- At least two black protesters were killed in clashes with police and two whites were burned to death yesterday as the nation reeled from the assassination of Chris Hani, one of the heroes of the black liberation movement.

A third white man was beaten and had part of his tongue cut out, police said.

As the country faced the prospect of a much larger explosion of violence, the African National Congress accused security officials of ignoring requests for special protection for Mr. Hani.

But the ANC, its political allies and the government urged calm and said Mr. Hani's death should not derail their negotiations aimed at achieving black equality.

"It is blatantly clear to everyone that Comrade Chris Hani's murder was politically motivated," said Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general of the ANC, the main black political group.

"In fact, the untimely death of Comrade Chris Hani should act as a catalyst for negotiations," Mr. Ramaphosa said. "He wanted the conflict in this country to be resolved through negotiations."

Mr. Hani, 50, was especially influential among young black militants who are distrustful of the black-white political talks. Unlike the ANC's old guard, the young blacks have not ruled out armed insurrection as a means of achieving black rule.

It is unclear how the senior ANC leaders will persuade young people to accept negotiations, and the violence yesterday underscored the credibility vacuum his death has created.

In the Soweto township near Johannesburg, residents said three people were killed when police opened fire on mourners at a commemoration service for Mr. Hani, but police said only one person was killed.

A second protester was killed in Phola Park, a squatter camp south of Johannesburg, when police fired on another crowd of protesters. Police said they fired in both cases only after being fired upon.

Protesters also erected burning barricades and disrupted traffic on a highway near Cape Town and stoned police when they arrived on the scene. Three officers were injured when a homemade bomb was tossed into their car and exploded, police reported.

In incidents reported late yesterday, police said two whites were set on fire and killed in the black township of Lwandle, near Cape Town.

In the same area, a third white man was dragged from his car, beaten and had part of his tongue cut out, police spokesman Jan Sterrenberg said. An attempt had been made to set him on fire.

Mr. Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party and a top official of the ANC, was gunned down outside his home Saturday morning in the suburb of Boksburg, south of Johannesburg.

Shortly after the assassination, police arrested Januzu Jakob Wallus, a 40-year-old white man from Pretoria, and found two pistols in his car.

Brig. Frans Malherbe, a police spokesman, said ballistics tests linked one of the weapons to the shooting, and President F. W. de Klerk said charges would be filed immediately.

Police said today that they had found a hit list of assassination targets in Mr. Wallus' home and that one of the handguns recovered Saturday was from a weapons consignment stolen from South African air force headquarters three years ago.

Newspapers reported yesterday that Mr. Wallus, who was born in Poland, was a member of the neo-Nazi paramilitary group known as the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, but police said they had not found a link between Mr. Wallus and any militant group.

The ANC and its political allies urged their followers to vent their anger through peaceful demonstrations but warned that trouble could result if police interfere.

"If we don't give the youth a chance to express their anger, we will have a problem with frustrated youth," said Peter Mokaba, president of the ANC Youth League.

"We are going to act. We cannot allow Comrade Chris to die in vain."

In an ominous expression of his own anger, he said Mr. Hani's death marked a turning point for South Africa and proved that white authorities were not serious about peaceful negotiations.

"The so-called peace process is not on. What is on here is war. We have to face facts. Comrades are being killed," Mr. Mokaba said.

Meanwhile, Mr. de Klerk called on all leaders to urge their followers "not to allow emotions to sweep the country." If that happens, he warned, "we are in a position to effectively ensure the maintenance of law and order."

The president said the assassination might have been carried out with the purpose of scuttling the country's black-white negotiations, which are aimed at ending decades of apartheid. "We must not allow that to happen," he said.

ANC officials have called for a day of mourning Wednesday and have asked their followers to stay away from work and stage peaceful demonstrations that day.

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