Questions about the High Court Decision to Award the Killer of Mr Chris Hani Parole after 23 Years in Jail –

Limpho Hani, right, and her daughter Nomakhwezi, who witnessed her father’s murder at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Limpho Hani, right, and her daughter Nomakhwezi, who witnessed her father’s murder at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Photograph: Walter Dhladhla/AFP/Getty Images


I have had to answer many calls from the media about the decision of the High Court to give Minister Masutha 14 days to decide whether to challenge the High Court judgment that Mr Janusz Waluś should now be granted parole for his killing of Mr Chris Hani.

The furore that has been unlocked about the proposed release on parole of Chris Hani’s killer, Mr Waluś, highlights the necessity to respect the right of victims to a truth that resonates with them when an offender finally subjects himself to serving the needs of the victims, as opposed to demanding the right to be freed on the basis of fulfilling the legal requirements for consideration for parole.

Mr Waluś’ imminent release is being resisted by members of the Hani family and others because of the absence of this form of truth – a coherent truth that makes sense to the victims of atrocities. In the case of Mr Waluś, none of the amnesty or court proceedings to date have answered the questions that the members of Mr Hani’s family still have and that remain unanswered.

A truth that resonates with the victims of crimes is a prerequisite for providing the kind of restorative justice needed by affected families. It is Mrs Limpho Hani’s refusal to just move on as advised by the insensitive High Court judge this past week, that highlights the right to demand a truth that satisfies the questions of victims’ family members in a context in which forgiveness was expected and too often demanded of victims at the TRC. Not forgiving until the truth has been established forces difficult conversations and disrupts the status quo that has existed since the TRC.

This is important in a nation in which too many feel perplexed that their notion of a rainbow nation is fracturing. The truth is that a nation cannot be built on half-truths and lies. Now is the time for real and meaningful engagement with victims of apartheid atrocities. No-one said reconciliation was easy. It is a costly, necessary and worthwhile struggle.


1. The daughter of Chris Hani, Lindiwe, has indicated she wishes to meet her father’s murderer. Is she entitled to such a request?

Yes, Ms Lindiwe Hani is absolutely entitled to ask for a Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) with Mr Waluś. One of the requirements of securing parole on the checklist created since the requirements for parole have been clarified by our Minister of Correctional Services is for the offender to have a face-to-face meeting with members of the victims’ family. In the absence of such an engagement, the Minister can defer granting parole to the offender. These VODs are facilitated in the Correctional Services facility in which the offender is being held.

2. Is Ms Hani likely, if granted, to extract information that Derby-Lewis and Waluś failed to disclose to the TRC?

From the time of the applications made by Mr Clive Derby-Lewis and Mr Janus Waluś, there has been a lack of full disclosure of the truth about the killing of Mr Chris Hani in that there has been no disclosure of whether Mr Janus Waluś was under instructions to carry out the killing or not; and if so, who gave the instructions for the killing of Mr Chris Hani. This truth was never obtained in either the amnesty hearing or in the subsequent court case that sent both to jail for life, after their death penalties were commuted to life sentences.

It is known that Mr Waluś received the weapon he used from Mr Derby-Lewis and he independently bought ammunition. He also conducted surveillance of the Hani home. He prepared for this killing in the way that assassins prepare for a mission. But assassinations are not conducted without being masterminded by a higher authority. Who was this higher authority? Why has this never been disclosed?

I am aware of the deep hatred that Poles have for the communist regime in Poland. Mr Waluś has apparently never invoked his hatred for the Polish Communist regime as a motive for his killing of Mr Hani. Who directed Mr Waluś to target Mr Hani and why? Whose orders was Mr Waluś carrying out? Who else was involved in the planning and execution of this mission?

Was he aligned with any of the secret apartheid units that carried out targeted killings? How did Mr Walusz connect with these people if he did? On what basis did he agree to conduct the killing of Mr Hani?

My experience of the way that commanders used assassins during apartheid is that these “assassins” were fed deliberate misinformation about their targets. What was Mr Walusz told about Mr Hani and by whom? For what purpose? Over what period of time did Mr Waluś conduct surveillance to set up the murder of Mr Hani? What was Mr Walusz’s occupation at the time? For whom did he work?

When it emerged who Mr Hani was and the stands that Mr Hani had made during the struggle, what impact did this have on Mr Waluś? Did Mr Walusz have any sense of what he would be triggering by Mr Hani’s death prior to the killing? Was this the express purpose of his action – to trigger mass violence in South Africa on the eve of the transition?

What did he learn in the aftermath of the killing of Mr Hani about the human being Chris Hani? How did this make him feel? Did he ever consider he had done a terrible deed to the family, to the country; and to the struggle for freedom and democracy? Why did it take him so many years to write to Mrs Hani to apologise? How does this killing affect his everyday life now? Does he have flashbacks about this killing? Does he get nightmares about what he did? I there any other impact on him psychologically or does he sleep peacefully at night? Has he any ability to feel empathy for the family of his victim? Has he been involved in other killings prior to his killing of Chris Hani?

Does Mr Waluś intend in any way to make redress to the family and to the country? What are his plans for making redress, if any? What are his plans once he is given parole? Does he know what conditions will be applied for his parole?

3. Is this an indictment on the TRC process?

The TRC proposed that truth would open the way to reconciliation. In this case (as in most cases that came to the TRC, the story constructed to present to the Amnesty Committee Commissioners was never the truth that is required by victims – it is a sanitised approximation to some of the facts – but not the truth that a victim requires in order to heal – that microtruth is the need for the family to have all the questions answered with no exception. The Hani family have not received answers to their questions to date.

The truth produced in legal proceedings is an approximation to the truth that meets the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

The TRC produced a macrotruth of the general conditions that prevailed under apartheid. It produced a metanarrative about apartheid, but it failed to produce actual truth for individual victims.

4. Is the state justified in paroling Waluzs?

Every lifer has the right to apply for consideration for parole after serving 13 years and 8 months of a life sentence – but there are conditions attached such as whether the offender has made efforts to engage directly with the family members of his victim.

In the absence of adequate engagement, the Minister has the right to deny parole.  The offender has to meet conditions for parole. It is not automatic.

5. What does this do for social cohesion and reconciliation?

The problem is that legal justice is usually afforded offenders without there being any equivalent justice provided for the family member of victims.

This has been the major failing of the TRC – the TRC created a system to provide a legal route for perpetrators to use mechanisms to reconstruct themselves as citizens of a new South Africa, while no equal access to victims’ justice in terms of full disclosure of the truth and an effective reparations programme has been achieved twenty years after the TRC.

The TRC limitations and gaps in relation to victims were huge and this sore continues to fester and prevents full engagement with reconciliation on the basis of social, economic and cultural equality and justice up to the present.

6. Concluding statement on the human being Chris Hani (from Jay Naidoo on Daily Maverick, 10 April 2013, the 20th Anniversary of the Murder of Chris Hani)

“Eight days before Comrade Chris was assassinated in April 1993, he was interviewed by social historian Luli Callinicos. In this interview, on the eve of the 1994 democratic election, he said that South Africa faced a “new enemy” and a “new struggle”. That enemy, he said, was socio-economic; it was about the struggle for jobs, houses, schools, so that we can build a society that cares.

What Comrade Chris was calling for was a culture of service. A culture where nurses are guided by an ethic of care, teachers by an ethic of learning, police by an ethic of community safety, and local government by an ethic of service delivery. The new enemy, he said, was corruption and “we in the party have been discussing how we should cut down on salaries of ministers, of parliamentarians, so that if you are in Parliament in Cape Town, you actually rent a flat like everybody”.

Hani often said, “We as the ANC-led liberation alliance, have nothing to fear, and everything to gain, from a climate of political tolerance. We do not fear open contest and free debate with other organisations. Open debate can only serve to uncover the bankruptcy of our political opponents.”

Chris Hani was an ultimate democracy and a believer in peoples’ power. His is an example to follow as we work to recover a culture of service and of tolerance in South Africa.

7. SOME PERSPECTIVES FROM SISONKE MSIMANG, Daily Maverick, 11 June 2014: Limpho Hani, Clive Derby-Lewis and the power of refusing to forgive

Apartheid’s victims must weep, but they must not rage. They must cry but they dare not swear. The ugly side of grief, which is vengeance, the nihilism of loss – these have no place in the vocabulary of our democracy. We are a nation founded on the benign principles of tolerance and forgiveness, not on the craggy rocks of fury. The deal in 1994 was that the black majority would forgive the white minority. In other words, black forgiveness would be exchanged for white loyalty to the country. Black people would ‘let’ whites live with them in peace because they were needed to run the economy – forgiveness as a quid pro quo for technical skills.

So Mrs. Hani’s public refusal to forgive, indeed her flagrant disregard for this founding promise, is almost heretical. She (and others like her in the Khulumani Support Group) is reneging on the unspoken post-Apartheid agreement. Her hostility changes the terms of engagement between black victims and white assailants. When black forgiveness is not forthcoming, there is an almost atavistic sense in which in our national consciousness, whites can no longer be assured of their place in this society.

The power of not forgiving, in a context in which forgiveness is expected, is that you force difficult conversations and you disrupt the status quo. The power in Limpho Hani’s anger is that it rages against forgetting. It insists on being heard and it solidifies his place in our collective memory.

I am not proposing that we become a society founded on anger. The path forged by Nelson Mandela and the ANC was the correct one. It was built on a commitment to peace, which took the form of accommodation and this as necessary. There was a sense in which our liberation was seen as a moment in which to exercise the gracious restraint that is the preserve of the victorious and we used that moment wisely.

And yet in a plural democracy such as ours, one where so much time and energy has been put into forgiveness, the voices of the hurt and the outraged have a place too. Surely we can create space for the deep sadness that twenty years will not quell.

If we cannot make space for pain that continues to be raw for so many families who lost loved ones; if our racial script can only accommodate one way of dealing with pain and if that one way is always through the telling of a redemptive tale, if it always has a happy, forgiving ending, then surely we can’t claim to be as plural as would like to be.

If the truth is that some of us are angry and do not want to reconcile, then this new country that we have moulded in our image over the last twenty years must find a way to live with and reflect that complexity. If South Africa is afraid to listen to voices that refuse to forgive, then we are in trouble.

We must accept that Mrs Hani and her family can live in this society, can mingle with people of all races with dignity and respect, and they can also refuse to forgive the man who killed their husband and father. Clive Derby Lewis may be sick and dying and so he may well be released. But his release – should it come – must not be mistaken for forgiveness. We ought to be grateful to the Hanis for being true to their rage.

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