By Samukele Hadebe
The jailed assassin, Janusz Walus, who murdered Chris Hani, then South African Communist Party (SACP) General Secretary on 10 April 1993, is seeking parole. Although sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he is frantically seeking parole to enjoy a free life. On 16 January 2019 Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha opposed Walus’ application for parole. This was not for the first time the Minister had opposed the application – this, therefore, suggests that the assassin has a penchant to free himself, evidenced by the extent to which he is willing to go to explore all avenues the law might avail.
The decision to oppose parole was understandably, welcomed by the progressive forces. However, anxiety and consternation lingers in the mind of many, considering that the matter has not been exhausted. Indeed, it is within Janusz Walus’ constitutional rights to seek parole. We are not debating the merits or demerits of his application for parole, as this is a matter our courts can handle with the utmost competence – however, the uneasiness derives from the very desire by Walus to seek his undeserved release.
Unfortunately, the mere prospect of Walus being granted parole creates the hovering and ominous cloud of trepidation. It conjures feelings of deep loss; lasting loss that is seemingly without closure.
Chris Hani was murdered because he was a communist. Indeed, as a true communist Comrade Chris Hani was a servant leader of the downtrodden and oppressed masses of South Africa who sought freedom. As a true communist, Chris Hani fought, not from the rear but at the forefront, where he was exposed to a high risk of losing his own life. For example, during his early years Comrade Hani, as part of the Luthuli Detachment, undertook the hazardous Wankie Campaign in 1967, taking on the mercenary Rhodesian and Apartheid South African forces of occupation in a number of ferocious battles.
Chris Hani continued to distinguish himself in several other military operations and missions he was assigned to – be it in Angola, Lesotho or within the borders of South Africa. As a distinguished freedom fighter, his military prowess was complemented by his deep sense of ideological consciousness. As if he had a premonition of his impending death, Comrade Hani was passionately consumed with the future of the ordinary men and women in post-Apartheid and democratic South Africa. He had witnessed the backsliding, characterised by dismal poverty and brutal repression in most independent African states. He strived to avert cataclysm that typified postcolonialism from extending to South Africa.
All these reflections matter more; now that Janusz Walus is determined to be released on parole – considering that after he was previously denied parole in November 2017 Walus challenged the Minister’s decision in the High Court of South Africa and succeeded in having that ministerial decision set aside in September 2018. These legal tussles over the release of the Hani murderer evoke afresh the memories of the loss suffered as a result of the callous murder of Chris Hani.
While to the family the loss of a father, husband, brother, uncle, nephew or cousin remains painful and cuts too deep; the future of the then majority of ordinary South Africans was irreversibly blighted by the untimely murder of Chris Hani. The assassin’s bullets were meant to extend Apartheid. The assassin, Janusz Walus, had not only hoped to perpetuate colonialism in Apartheid South Africa, but to maintain the status quo in respect of extreme poverty and deprivation to millions of black South Africans, extreme social inequalities and grossly uneven access to land, housing, healthcare, transport, clean water and basic education. In essence, Walus had hoped to bifurcate freedom and render African liberation hollow and meaningless to the suffering working class majority.
The motive behind the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani might never be fully known, but its calculated impact on the struggling masses is visible to any discerning observer. Janusz Walus is allowed to exercise his right to apply and be granted parole, a right enshrined in the constitution of a democratic South Africa – the very same right that was earned by the sweat, tears and blood of thousands of South Africans, including that of Chris Hani.
Torment grips society, considering that the fact that Walus was denied parole recently does not allay the fears of the masses, as Minister Masutha directed that a further psychological assessment be conducted and a report be submitted within six months for further consideration. So far, the assassin remains largely unremorseful for assassinating a communist! Therein, lies the source of insistent apprehension and disquiet.