Khulumani Article Appears in Latest Issue of AFRIKA SUED in Germany: ‘Should the Killer of Chris Hani be set free?’ –

Khulumani Article Appears in Latest Issue of AFRIKA SUED in Germany: 'Should the Killer of Chris Hani be set free?'

AFRIKA SUED has published a Khulumani article by Dr. Marjorie Jobson in German, ‘Darf der Mörder von Chris Hani auf freien Fuß?” which reflects on the refusal of Mrs Hani to forgive the murderer of her husband.

Find a loose translation of the article below and attached. The link to the article is:

Should the Killer of Chris Hani be set free? by Dr. Marjorie Jobson

THE TRUTH IS: ONE CAN NOT BUILD A NATION WITH HALF TRUTHS AND LIES. Is there justice for the victims twenty years after the beginning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)?

The recent decision of the High Court in Pretoria to order the release of the murderer of Chris Hani, Janusz Walus, after 23 years in jail, raises many questions. Unfortunately, the High Court judge said in her judgment that Mrs Limpho Hani should be prepared to forgive Mr Walus. The issue should not be one of ordering Mrs Hani to forgive. The question is whether Mr Walus has yet given Mrs Hani the truth about the killing of Mr Hani. It is about the right of victims to be told the truth. The release of Mr Walus on parole has been strongly opposed by Mrs Hani. We are grateful that the Minister of Justice is appealing the High Court ruling to have mr Walus released on parole.

On 04.10.1993 was Martin Tembisile (Chris) Hani, the former head of the ANC underground organization Umkhonto we Sizwe and secretary general of the SACP, was murdered in cold blood by Mr Walus on Easter Sunday morning in the driveway of his home in Dawn Park in Boksburg. The amnesty applications of Mr Walus and his co-accused, Mr Derby-Lewis to the TRC, were rejected.

Neither in the amnesty hearings during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997 or in subsequent court proceedings, were the questions of the Hani family answered. Access to the truth that answers the questions of victims and their families, is a prerequisite for restorative justice. Too much pressure was put on family members of victims at the TRC to give forgiveness to the perpetrators of terrible crimes, without making sure that the questions that the families of victims have about the crimes are answered. The court makes decisions on the basis of the principle of “beyond reasonable doubt”. This is not a quality of truth-telling or truth disclosure that was achieved by the TRC. It is only this quality of truth-disclosure that gives relief to the family members of victims.

By refusing to forgive Mr Walus for the crime of assassinating her husband until there is a satisfactory quality of truth-telling, Mrs Hani is interrupting the status quo that has existed since the TRC closed. It is now time for tough talking if we are to become a nation in which all have access to equality in the law. Now is the time for a serious confrontation with the victims of apartheid crimes.

Lindiwe Hani, Chris Hani’s daughter, has the right to a victim-perpetrator dialogue (VOD) with Mr. Walus. She has indicated she wishes to speak to Mr Walus, although her mother does not support such a meeting herself. Mr Walus may not be released unless there is a VOD. This is a prerequisite for him to be released on parole. After serving a portion of a life sentence, thirteen years and eight months, every “lifer” has the right to apply to be considered for parole. But a VOD with family members of a victim is a prerequisite.

Secretive information

It is unclear whether Janusz Walus was commissioned to carry out the murder of Chris Hani and who possibly gave him the job. The truth was revealed neither the TRC amnesty hearing nor in the subsequent trial. What is known is that Mr. Walus was given the weapon that was used to kill Mr Hani by Mr Clive Derby-Lewis and that he bought the ammunition for the weapon himself.

Mr Walus had personally conducted surveillance on Mr Hani’s home and on his movements over several weeks before carrying out the killing. But remains a mystery is the identity of the mastermind behind the murder of Mr Hani, because assassinations are carried out unbder instructions from a higher authority. Who was this higher authority? Why that was never revealed?

I am aware that Polish people came to hate the communist regime in their country. Mr Walus is of Polish origin and grew up under the Polish community regime. He has, however, never invoked his hatred of communism as a reason for his involvement in the killing of Mr Hani. The question remains, “Who recruited Walus and why? Who else was involved in the planning and execution of the mission? Was Mr Walus directed by secret apartheid units who carried out targeted killings? Was Mr Walus in contact with such people? What was their motive for killing Mr Hani? What was Mr Walus told about Mr Hani? My experience is that during apartheid commanders took advantage of assassins and fed them with deliberately false information about their objectives. Who was Mr Walus working for at the time of the murder? For how long had he been observing Mr Hani’s house? Did Mr Walus know the terrible possible consequences of killing this man? Was he part of a plot to unlock mass violence in South Africa on the verge of its transition to a government elected by all the people of this country. Why did it take Mr Walus 21 years to finally approach Mrs Hani to apologise to her? Was Mr Walus involved in other killings before the murder of Mr Chris Hani?

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission assumed truth would pave the way for reconciliation. In this case – as in many that were presented before the amnesty committee – there was very little truth-telling that would help victims to heal. Families of victims need the micro-truth that makes sense to them if they are to heal. The Hani family has not yet received this level of truth-telling.

The TRC produced a macro truth of the general conditions that existed under apartheid. They failed, however, to achieve the micro-truth for individual victims. This is the biggest failure of the TRC. It created a system with which the perpetrators could pursue applications for amnesty in which they decided how much they would disclose and thereby they were exonerated by the state and welcomed as citizens of a new country. But there were no mechanisms for victims to access the truth and up until today, there has been almost no reparation for harm done to victims of these crimes. Today, real reconciliation on the basis of social, economic and cultural equality and justice, remains elusive and anger grows across the land at these failures.

Chris Hani, the man First COSATU General Secretary, Mr Jay Naidoo, speaks of how eight days before Comrade Chris Hani was killed, the social historian Luli Callinicos had interviewed him. In this interview, Mr Hani had said that South Africa had a new enemy and was confronted with a new struggle. He said, “The new struggle is socioeconomic. It is the struggle about a fight for work, houses and schools in a society in which teachers, nurses, policemen, employees in the municipal administration work with an ethic of responsibility to all the people. The new enemy, he said, is the corruption. He also proposed that the salaries of ministers and parliamentarians should be reduced.

Mr Hani often stressed: "We as the ANC-led Alliance of liberation movements have nothing to fear in a climate of political tolerance. We are not afraid of open verbal confrontations with other organizations. He was a staunch democrat who believed in the power of the people. He showed us all a way that we should follow in order to live out a culture of commitment and tolerance.

Righteous Fury

The civil society activist Sisonke Msimang wrote about the Hani case that “The victims of apartheid should cry. But she mourned that there seems to be no space for the expression of mourning or of the nihilism of loss. Why is there no place in the vocabulary of our democracy for these things?, she asks. The deal in 1994 was that the loyalty of white people to the country was to be bought through the forgiveness of black people. Black people would allow White to live in peace, because they were needed as managers of the economy – forgiveness in return for technical skills.

So for Mrs Hani to refuse to reconcile in this system, is almost heretical. Mrs Hani has rebelled against an unspoken post-apartheid agreement. But there is power in not forgetting. Mrs Hani is right to insist on being heard and to be consolidating the memory of her husband, Chris Hani in our country’s collective consciousness. A pluralist democracy like ours that has invested so much time and energy in forgiveness should also give voices of anger and sadness space. If South Africa is afraid to hear those voices that refuse reconciliation, we will have problems.

To deny the expression of the anguish with which so many South Africans live, reveals a major limitation on our capacity to accommodate each other in all our diversity. The truth is that there are some of us who are angry and who do not want to be reconciled. This country which we have created over the past twenty years needs to be able to accommodate this complexity.  We have to accept that Mrs Hani and her family live in this society. Everyone living here has the right to be respected and to make choices to forgive or not to forgive. The fact that Mr Clive Derby-Lewis has been released because he has a terminal illness, should not be misconstrued as reconciliation. We should be continue to be grateful to Mrs Hani who stands by her anger.

Marjorie Jobson

The author is the Executive Director of the organization Khulumani Support Group. The central arguments on this case appeared on 03.14.2016 in full length in the English original on the Khulumani website:

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