Janusz Walus is set to be given parole against the wishes of the South African people and the family of Chris Hani Photo BuzzSouthAfrica
South Africa – After serving just 29 years for the murder of Chris Hani, Janusz Walus, a polish immigrant, was granted release on parole. The Constitutional Court on Monday ruled, through Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola place Walus on parole. While Walus will walk free, South Africans strongly believe a man who almost brought the country to its knees should not be allowed to live the rest of his life as a free man.
The decision by Zondo has shocked not only Hani’s family but also South Africa. Hani was murdered in 1993 just before the multiracial elections could take place. Kim Heller, Independent Journalist and author, feels the decision to release Walus is an injustice considering the brutal nature of his crime.
“I would call Monday a Black Monday because we saw the release of a ruthless killer of one of the greatest liberation fighters that the ANC certainly has ever had and the decision to release him is heartbreaking for the family …. for those of us who’ve tried to fight for justice in this country, it took us right back to that very day that he was killed … Here we have an example of a man who devastated the lives of a freedom fighter, of his family and of South Africa because what we see now is an ANC leadership that has absolutely no principles or revolutionary zeal but in Chris Hani we may have had somebody quite different. So, we will never know what this man robbed us of as a nation and as a democracy and all I can say is what we saw on Monday was an act of injustice.”
What Chris Hani meant to this country
Hani was loved by all, especially by the youth of the country. At the time of his death, he was the most popular ANC leader after the late Nelson Mandela. He was a charismatic leader who came from a humble environment and stood for everything that was right about the ANC, said Heller.
“He warned about revolutionaries who become part of the elite circles which many of his ANC so-called comrades have done today. People who met him will speak about his down-to-earth revolutionary stance. He remained true to who he was and because he had been raised in poverty in the Eastern Cape he never detoured from his roots. He felt poverty very very deeply and the resonance that he had with ordinary South Africans, black South Africans particularly the poorest and most marginalised, was I think second to none. It’s something that we don’t see in the current ANC. We see a very great distance.”
When we deal with the character of Hani, we must take into account the vast amount of knowledge he had acquired when he stayed in various countries in Africa. These countries were just gaining independence and this gave Hani a view of what South Africa could be facing once Apartheid ended. It was because of this knowledge that Hani was not blinded by things other leaders were, explained Kodisang Bokaba, Pan Africanist, trade union leader.
“He did not have the illusion of Utopia. He understood the post liberation. He opposed the first election dispensation and he has seen it in Angola and many other African countries where the liberation movement had become reactionary and no longer exposed the values of liberation. At the time he was killed, it’s very also important to say he had become a man of peace but a very cautious popular leader who had said if the ANC of tomorrow becomes the National Party of yesterday, we must do good to it what we have done to the National Party. Now that is a very profound statement. He talked about former revolutionaries driving around in Mercedes-Benz and luxury cars way before the elections and that tells you about the foresight he had.”
Walus being given parole
The parole of Walus should not come as a surprise to anyone. It happens within the confines of the constitution. However, we must remember that this same constitution has paroled others who committed atrocities during the Apartheid regime, said Bokaba.
“When we talk about the Janusz Walus parole, it’s also important to say it happens within the confines of the constitution. Post 1994 constitutional state which is run and administered by the organisation he belongs to. Now there are no confines. It is the same organisation that has paroled, using the same legislation. has paroled killers here like Eugene de Kock and paid them. Continue to put them on the state salary. Guys who had confessed to massacring and killing the liberation struggle fighters. Who have mercilessly confessed to crimes against humanity. Burning human beings alive while having a braai and enjoying meat on the side. It is in the hands of the ANC that other liberation fighters that do not belong to the ANC and some that belong to the ANC continue to be incarcerated in the prisons of this country.”
When we choose to apply the rule of law, we must ask whether it is a political judgement or a legal judgement, does it stand the constitutional test for what we call the rule of law, questioned Bokaba. While Walus is allowed to walk free, the ANC liberation fighters continue to sit in jail despite being eligible for parole.
The ANC has forsaken the African people and the ideology of Hani
South Africa has prided itself on being called the rainbow nation. Being a country that is inclusive to all regardless of race. However, Heller feels strongly the constitution was built to preserve white supremacy and the ANC has finally shown who they really care about.
“I was a member of the ANC. I was very enthusiastic but what it’s doing more and more is unmasking itself as a party that is really not on the side of black South Africans. If we are honest with ourselves we go back to the 1955 Freedom Charter which actually enslaved black South Africans in an eternal pact with their oppressor. When we look at the constitution we shouldn’t be surprised because it was based on a doctrine that was written by white people for the preservation of white supremacy. The Chris Hani matter raises issues about a level of betrayal in that party. Not only of its own comrades but of black South Africans. I think perhaps, in a way, we should look at this as the start of seeing the big secrets that need to emerge.”
Heller believes the story of 1994 has been told wrong. We saw the sidelining of black liberation rather than true and free democracy. The events of Monday will have people stop believing in the rainbow nation.
People worse off now than before
It is extremely unfortunate to hear those who lived through Apartheid speak of how things were better under the National Party. It is a testament to how far the ANC have fallen from the vision Hani had for the party. For Bokaba, the ANC has surpassed the National Party in terms of excluding black people from living and thriving.
“It has become the greatest defender of white privilege. The ANC has become the barometer of what not to do. It makes the National Party look good … The irony of this is that the present generation of 70 year olds, 75 year olds, 65 year olds, 60 year olds that are in parliament, they were the young people of 1976. The irony of it all is that they were the young people that set out to collapse Apartheid and why is it that now that they have the levers of power, they no longer feel they should do it. It is because the state capture has happened at the party level. The party that set out on a drive from Pretoria to Bloemfontein on a freeway has been off-ramped. The people that were fighting against apartheid, have they stayed true to their ideals that they fought for? No. These people that were the generation of 1986. That fought with nothing against the apartheid in townships, do they have everything? No. These people that are in parliament that were in all these liberation movement camps who have now entered parliament, are the ideas of struggle that they stood for still the same? The answer is no.”
The same cabinet that Hani was part of has cut the budgets for healthcare, education and much more. Hani advocated for universal healthcare. His comrades who are now in charge prefer to use private facilities as they have destroyed the public healthcare facilities, said Bokaba. The country is worse off today because the country has reinforced “the settler colonial relations with the British government”.
Hani’s death not only stole a husband and father from his beloved family but it was the death for the dreams of millions of people. His death brought the country to the brink of civil war and this needs to be taken into account. A man of real substance and credibility was taken from his nation and one can argue that South Africa is worse off without him. His death plunged a nation into darkness and was the death of it.