Who Was Chris Hani And Why Is The South African Government Fighting His Killer


Just last month, a judge had ruled that Janusz Walus, the man responsible for the 1993 murder of the South African Communist Party (SACP) leader, Chris Hani, be released. Mr. Walus had already spent 23 years in prison and the court decided to grant him parole. His parole had sparked outrage in many parts of South Africa especially when the judge had told his widow to move on.

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To better understand the outrage surrounding the ruling, you may need to take a trip into South African history but we will briefly attempt to give context. Chris Hani was a charismatic leader, holding significant support among the radical anti-apartheid youth. At the time of his death, he was regarded as the most popular ANC leader after Nelson Mandela, and was sometimes perceived as a rival to the more moderate party leadership.

His support for the negotiation process with the apartheid government Following the legalization of the ANC was critical in keeping the militants in line.

Chris Hani2

His death at the time would have plunged the country into a civil war and anticipating this, then President F W De Klerk did the unthinkable, he gave the national broadcaster to Nelson Mandela to deliver a call for calm on national television. Nelson Mandela gave a speech aimed at halting the anger and pain that would have led to violence in the country and called for the people to unify and ensure that Chris Hani’s death was not in vain. His speech referenced one of Chris Hani’s quotes that give a picture of the kind of man he was; “I have lived with death most of my life. I want to live in a free South Africa even if I have to lay down my life for it”.

After the judge had pronounced the ruling, Ms Hani who had been told to move on had described the day as a sad one for South Africa, speaking thus; “It’s very sad for South Africa. It’s a very sad day. I am not upset, but I am highly irritated that this white woman can tell me how to feel. She comes with a white superiority complex to tell me I should forgive and I should move on. It is not her husband that was murdered.”

Janusz Walus

South African Government Fights On The Side Of Chris Hani

Weeks later, the South African government is appealing the court’s ruling. The trial which started today has seen lawyers who represent the state arguing that Chris Hani’s murder must be placed in the correct political context and recognized as a deliberate attempt to plunge the country into crisis. The advocate Marumo Moerane representing the State argues that on this extraordinary basis, the crime of Janusz Walus ought to be met with the harshest punishment. The State also argued that releasing Walus will be painful for the victim’s family and others.

Chris Hani

While the Justice Department expected to hear whether it would be granted leave to appeal a high court judgment freeing Hani’s killer, Janusz Walus, the judge will only give her ruling on Thursday. The Justice Ministry’s main line of attack is aimed at an earlier ruling by Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen’s, in which it was found that Minister Michael Masutha’s parole review decision was irrational.

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