Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

South Africa’s ruling party has protested the court decision to release the killer of Chris Hani, who was gunned down in 1993.

The gravesite of anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani has been vandalised, days after a South African court ordered the far-right gunman who killed him to be released on parole.

The city of Ekurhuleni, near Johannesburg, where the tomb and memorial site of the late Communist Party leader are located, said authorities had opened an investigation into the damage, which took place at the weekend.

On Saturday, members of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), protested outside a top court after it had ordered the release of Janusz Walus, the Polish immigrant who assassinated Hani in 1993.

One of the pillars of the monument was badly damaged, one side fell off and the electric lighting system was stolen, Ekurhuleni spokesman Zweli Dlamini told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Hani, a popular figure and fierce opponent of the apartheid regime, was gunned down in the driveway of his house a year before South Africa’s first multiracial elections.

The shooting occurred just as negotiations to end apartheid were entering their final phase, stoking tensions that some feared would erupt into civil war.

Walus, 69, was sentenced to life in prison and his applications to be released on parole have been rejected by several justice ministers.

However, after reviewing a 2020 decision to reject his application, the Constitutional Court described the minister’s ruling as irrational and ordered that Walus be freed in the next 10 days. He is expected to be released by Thursday.

Hani’s widow described the Constitutional Court’s decision as “diabolical”.

The sentiment was shared by the ANC and the South African Communist Party. In a joint statement with trade unions issued on Monday, the two parties condemned the vandalisation of Hani’s memorial as a “provocative attack”.

“The judgment pleased unrepentant apartheid perpetrators, who celebrated, while the family of the victim, Chris Hani, and other victims of apartheid were hurt and deeply disappointed,” the statement said.

“This is how South Africa has now become redivided. It is in this context that the attack on the Chris Hani Memorial Site occurred, posing a threat to societal stability, just as the assassination of Chris Hani did,” it added.

Speaking to local media outside the court on Saturday, senior ANC member Panyaza Lesufi referred to Walus when saying: “We have the right to send the message to him that you assassinated our hero. He is a murderer, and he must know that.”

On Monday, the Department of Home Affairs announced Walus would have to serve his parole in South Africa, saying he should not be allowed to return home to Poland given the “heinous crime committed”.

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By Joy

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