Not The Mourning He Would Have Wanted

Enraged at a leader's death, South African blacks go on a violent spree

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"What happened in South Africa today," declared President F.W. de Klerk, "cannot be tolerated in a civilized country." De Klerk was referring to the violence provoked by the murder of Chris Hani, the Communist Party leader who was the most popular of the country's militant blacks. On a day devoted to mourning Hani, at least five people were killed and hundreds injured as angry blacks looted stores and battled police.

That same afternoon, African National Congress president Nelson Mandela called for discipline and restraint, warning that further violence could derail negotiations aimed at democratic reforms and ultimately play into the hands of the murderer (a Polish immigrant has been accused of the killing). "I understand your anger," said Mandela, but "we want you to remember that as a government in waiting, you have the responsibility to behave orderly and with dignity."

He also urged his followers to "forget the past" and reaffirmed his willingness to work with De Klerk "to build a new South Africa." But on Saturday, two blacks were killed by a white gunman during a march in Vanderbijlpark, near Johannesburg. The tragic past threatened to overwhelm a peaceful future.