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Outcry over ConCourt order to parole Chris Hani’s killer Janusz Walus

Outcry over ConCourt order to parole Chris Hani’s killer Janusz Walus
Janusz Waluś. (Photo: AFP)

The South African Communist Party says it is ‘sickeningly disappointed’ with the Constitutional Court’s decision to release Chris Hani’s killer on parole.

“Sickeningly disappointing,” is how South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Solly Mapaila described the Constitutional Court’s decision on Monday to grant parole to Janusz Walus, the man convicted of killing SACP leader Chris Hani in 1993. 

“The SACP fully supports the family of Chris Hani, who was the general secretary of the party when he was assassinated on 10 April 1993. The assassination of Hani left a gaping wound in his family, the SACP and the ranks of the working class.” 

“The judgment has rubbed salt in the wound.”

In a statement, Mapaila said the Constitutional Court’s judgment had “far-reaching implications” that compelled the SACP to analyse it and “look for a new way forward under the circumstances”.

On Monday afternoon, the apex court granted Walus’ leave to appeal application and ordered Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to place him on parole within 10 days. 

Handing down the judgment, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said Lamola’s decision to refuse parole to Walus in March 2020 was “irrational and it falls to be reviewed and set aside”.

Walus has spent 28 years in jail for a very serious crime that “nearly plunged this country into civil unrest” and nearly derailed the attainment of democracy in South Africa, said Zondo. 

Walus was convicted in October 1993 and sentenced to death for Hani’s murder. However, his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment after the death penalty was abolished. 

Walus has made several attempts to secure parole since becoming eligible in 2005. 

Protestors march through the streets after Chris Hani's assassination

Protesters march through the streets after Chris Hani’s assassination on 14 April 1993. (Photo: Gallo Images / Media24 Newspaper Archives)

Speaking to Daily Maverick on Monday evening, Lamola’s spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri, said: “The Ministry notes the decision of the Constitutional Court. It being the apex court of the country holds important significance in the matter.

“We will be carefully studying the judgment to understand its implications broadly on policy and other endeavours in the department,” he added. 

The Constitutional Court, Phiri said, “argued that the basis of the Minister’s decision is impugned because the nature of the crime – which is one of the factors which the Minister took into account – would not change, and the sentence remarks of the court would not change any time soon”. 

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In a statement on Monday evening, the EFF rejected the Constitutional Court ruling to release Walus on parole, saying it “will invoke instability in our country”.

“The decision to release Janusz Walus is callous, insensitive and regressive, and is made by a self-centred collective led by Raymond Zondo, who have today spit on the grave of Chris Hani and those who died fighting for the freedom of this country.”

The EFF maintained that there has been no resolution between Walus and the Hani family, which “has consistently opposed his release due to the trauma they suffered”. 

The party called on government and the Hani family to apply for rescission of this judgment in terms of rule 42(1)(a) of the Uniform Rules of Court.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika after Monday’s proceedings, Hani’s widow, Limpho Hani, described the court’s decision to grant parole to Walus as “diabolical”.

She slammed the court’s decision, saying it was “dictatorship at the highest”. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    Much as I abor what Walus did, he is actually a political prisoner now.

  • virginia crawford says:

    Unfortunately everybody is eligible for parole. Many other murderers are out after fewer years, and so the SACP hysteria and vitriol are just so much noise. I hate Walus too and believe he should be deported immediately as a public safety risk.

  • christo o says:

    I am distressed by this inability to forgive Walus, and for everyone to accept that he has paid the price for damage done to the country during apartheid when so many others have not, and when so many others that are currently destroying the country continue to not pay the price.

    Clearly as a country we have failed to learn the key lesson from apartheid – that defining someone as “the other” and then getting “those like us” to be disgusted with the other so that we can hate and dehumanise them is what politicians do to manipulate the sheeple to achieve their own self-serving ends.

    If leaders in the black community can not demonstrate reconciliation then the President asking us as communities and businesses to stand together and build a better SA is a waste of air. We will not get out of the failed state that we are unless we can let the blood and pus and rot out of old wounds so that they can start healing.

    In my opinion the question we should ask ourselves is: “Are we the kind of people who will torture one person as punishment for a whole system? If so, which person will we select to torture for the Zuma era?”

    PS: I am saddened by the loss of the Hani family. I am also saddened by the losses of ALL of those who lost family members during Apartheid, but whose family members were not famous or important enough to become a political lever.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    My personal preference is that murderers receive the death sentence or, in the absence of that, they are sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Hard labour would also be a plus factor. So on the level of my personal preferences and because I want to see that murderers are punished severely, Walus’ sentence and refusal of parole ticks all my boxes. BUT that is not the system we have in this country. We do not have the death penalty, we do not have hard labour, our so called life sentence is probably 25 years, and almost everyone qualifies for parole after serving 30% to 40% of the original sentence.
    And Walus should have the same rules applied to him as are applied to all other murderers. No state official or political head should have the power to refuse the application of those rules simply because of the identity of the victim or because of any sense of cameraderie they may feel towards the victim. This is logical and self evident. I dont like it personally but then I dont like the fact that many other murderers and serious criminals are released on parole.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The fascists of the SACP have failed to listen to the eloquent legal judgement delivered by Chief Justice Zondo. What has been sickening is the fact that ANC Ministers of Justice who have been sued several times for the parole of murderers and rapists who have raped and murdered after their parole, have been making irrational political decisions to deny Walus parole. The legal illiterate called Solly Mapaila, was not listening on the sound legal basis that the Chief Justice made for the Constitutional Court to arrive at the decision that they have arrived at. Parole is part of the legal system of the country that fascist of the SACP and others of their ilk do not accept. For Limpho Hani to insult the Chief
    Justice it is unacceptable. Some of us who fought for freedom who took a decision never to make the struggle personal as we fought to free a country, a people and a nation and went to prisons for that several times and carry scars of the struggle, take umbrage that we are free because of Hani. We freed ourselves
    as the people of this country. We salute our heroes who paid a supreme sacrifice for the struggle. We must never diminish their role as Blade Nzimande a Johny come yesterday in the struggle as he was a Tongaat Hullet personnel manager and Inkatha member.
    As former freedom fighters, who have seen the blood of our comrades spilled in the theatre of war, we accept the Chief Justice Zondo’s rationale and decision, and he has restored our humanity as we are civilised.

    • Ingrid Kemp says:

      I always enjoy & agree with your comments. It would be wonderful if there were more rational people like you from both sides of the spectrum. While we must learn from the past, progress is looking ahead & creating a better future.

  • Gavin Brown says:

    Vituperative, contemptuous, aggressive and legally ignorant – not a very dignified act from the widow? She has surely exacted enough vengeance by extending his sentence for so long through her endless advocacy and networking?

  • Peter Slingsby says:

    Walus is a callous murderer who was convicted and sentenced under law. If those who so vituperatively object to his parole do not believe in equal, non-discriminatory rights for all, with constitutional government under the rule of law, what kind of South Africa do they want?

  • Christopher MacRoberts says:

    Other than summarising the hyperbolic political commentary on the Constitutional Court’s order, there is very little commentary in this piece on the substance of the judgment. What led the Court to its decision? The full Court unanimously found that the Minister’s conduct (and that of his predecessors) in repeatedly refusing parole was irrational. Whilst Mr Walus’ crime was shocking and deplorable, he has served 28 years in prison and is entitled to fair consideration of parole like any other inmate – the nature and seriousness of the crime will never change:

    “[82] … if more than 26 years after the applicant was sentenced for the crime he
    committed, it was appropriate for the Minister not to release the applicant on parole in
    2020 because of the nature of the crime, the seriousness thereof and the Court’s
    sentencing remarks, why would it be appropriate for the Minister to release him one or
    two or three or five years thereafter? These three factors are immutable. They will not
    change one or two or three or five years later. This the Minister has not explained,
    notwithstanding the fact that it cried out for an explanation because the applicant clearly
    put it in issue. Therefore, this Court must vitiate the Minister’s decision. If it were not
    to do so, it would in effect be giving its approval to the proposition that in future it
    would be appropriate for the Minister to deny the applicant parole even when he may
    have served 30 or 35 or even 40 years of imprisonment…”

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    I think the statements made by those who oppose this judgement show clearly they are not capable of residing in a state where the rule of law is final. It’s immoral that Walus has been kept behind bars for an additional 15 years because one woman is so filled with hatred, clearly she has not learnt anything. It so typical of people like this woman to have one set of rules for themselves and their friends and another set of rules for everyone else. Thank goodness we live in a country where the law prevails because otherwise people such as this would have dragged us into the mud.

    • Johann Olivier says:

      Hang on, Mr Coetzee. That ‘the woman is consumed by hate’ is understandable and so sad for her. Of course she remains consumed by hate. How would anyone feel if a loved one was brutally murdered? In most people, those all-consuming feelings never go away. That is why the judicial system comes into play. Personal feelings cannot be the arbiter of justice. Sometimes, for those whose lives have been destroyed, it is difficult to comprehend.

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