Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chris Hani's Killer Janusz Walus Given Parole in South Africa
Chris Hani was shot as he picked up the morning newspapers at his home.

BBC World Service

A court in South Africa has ruled that the killer of anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani should be freed on parole after more than 22 years in prison.

The government had resisted moves to release Janusz Walus, saying he showed no remorse for the April 1993 murder which threatened to derail South Africa's transition to democracy.

Walus' lawyers argued he should be freed in the spirit of reconciliation.

He was serving a life sentence after being convicted in October 1993.

The High Court in the capital, Pretoria, ruled that Walus should be freed in two weeks time, and a parole board should set the conditions for his release.

The justice ministry said it would study the judgement, before deciding whether to appeal.
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed after minority rule ended in April 1994, refused to give Walus amnesty.

Hani was shot dead by Walus a year earlier, while picking up the morning newspapers from his driveway at his home in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.

Regarded as the most popular politician in South Africa after Nelson Mandela, he was the leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the head of the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), the former liberation movement which is now in power.

Analysis: Farouk Chothia, BBC News

The murder of Hani backfired on South Africa's white supremacists. They hoped that the killing of a politician who was idolised by most black people but hated by many of their white counterparts would escalate conflict in South Africa, and open the way for them to seize power in the ensuing chaos.

But the opposite happened, as it galvanised Mr Mandela to press South Africa's then-President FW de Klerk to set a date for the first democratic election to end centuries of racial oppression.

Mr De Klerk agreed, and power ebbed away from him with Mr Mandela becoming South Africa's first black president just over a year later.

Walus, who killed Mr Hani by shooting him at point-blank range in the chin, behind the ear and in the chest, is alive only because Mr Mandela's ANC abolished the death penalty, believing that it should not do what the former regime had done - execute its enemies.

Walus, 63, was involved in far-right politics, and opposed moves to end apartheid, which legalised discrimination against black people.

The decision to free him was a "great disappointment", but not surprising because the judge "kept asking questions which suggested that she will make an order such as the one she made", said SACP spokesman Alex Mashilo, the local Eyewitness News reports.

Walus had been sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life after South Africa abolished the death penalty at the end of minority rule.

His co-conspirator in the murder, Clive Derby-Lewis, was released on parole in June 2015.

Derby-Lewis, 79, had given Walus the gun used to kill Hani.

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