/ 4 April 1997

Hints of truth about Hani’s death

It is four years since Chris Hani’s death, and speculation is growing that assassin Janusz Waluz was not alone, reports Stefaans Brmmer

WHEN Polish immigrant Janusz Waluz was arrested shortly after he gunned down Chris Hani, his only words were that the murder weapon – found in his getaway car – had been “planted”. After that he maintained a stony silence which he kept up throughout his trial.

Next Thursday, April 10, South Africans will mourn the fourth anniversary of Hani’s death. But for many, four years and the lifelong imprisonment of Waluz and his rightwing co-conspirator, Clive Derby- Lewis, have not put the South African Communist Party (SACP) leader’s ghost to rest.

Now evidence suggests that Waluz may not have been the only gunman at Hani’s Boksburg home that day.

April 10, 1993: journalist Jon Qwelane, who lived down the road from Hani, visits the assassination scene. He hears that United Nations observers, also there, are talking of more than one type of ammunition cartridge found. No such evidence was presented in court.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress intelligence supremo, Joe Nhlanhla, also arrives at the scene. Behind a neighbour’s wall he finds a softdrink tin and two cigarette stubs. An apparent bullet hole next to Hani’s garage, consistent with a shot having been fired from beyond the neighbour’s wall, raises Nhlanhla’s suspicions of a second gunman. The hole was never proved to have been from a gunshot, but some senior former ANC intelligence operatives still believe there was something to it.

Hani drew the attention of apartheid’s intelligence agencies more than most of his comrades. He survived a number of assassination attempts both in exile and after his return to South Africa.

A September 1992 intelligence report composed by Jan Anton Nieuwoudt of Military Intelligence’s (MI) notorious Directorate of Covert Collection (DCC), claimed that a serious split was developing between Joe Modise, now minister of defence, and Hani.

It suggests that an “approach” be made to Modise. There is no evidence that this actually happened, and Modise has denied it – but ominously Nieuwoudt talks of the “exploitation of the split” and about a “final phase to this goal”.

In early April 1993 Eugene Riley, a former agent of the South African Defence Force’s equally notorious Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB), and who later appears to have forged links with Nieuwoudt’s DCC like many of his colleagues, entered the fray. In intelligence reports he made to the then National Intelligence Service (NIS), he warned of the impending assassination, putting the blame on ANC operatives. He cited internal ANC squabbles and Hani’s “own agenda” as the motive.

In the documents, Riley claimed his information had come from “Ramon”, whom he described as an ANC intelligence operative. The M&G has named Ramon as Mohammed Amin Laher. The ANC has said it could find no record of Laher having worked for it.

Laher has claimed to the M&G that the assassination was a joint project by “both sides of the spectrum”. Riley died in an unsolved shooting in early 1994.

While there is no hard evidence that the information contained in the Riley documents was accurate – except for the date of the planned assassination and a reference to “a Polish member of the strike unit” – the fact that he prepared them for the NIS establishes an interesting link. There have been allegations that right-wing journalist Arthur Kemp, a former security policeman who testified in Waluz and Derby Lewis’s trial that he had supplied the addresses for the “hit list” that identified Hani, had been an informer for the NIS.

Kemp, who was initially arrested after the assassination, but not prosecuted in exchange for turning state witness, has denied he had worked for the NIS. But he nevertheless offered to sell the London Sunday Times a story on the “wider conspiracy” for 100 000.

A document Riley composed for the NIS on May 15 1993 warns of a plot to assassinate SACP leader Joe Slovo. Again quoting “Ramon” as the source, it claims that the same “Omega Strike Unit” of the ANC that killed Hani would be used to assassinate Slovo. Again, there appears to be some truth, although there is no proof that the attempt would have been ANC-inspired. Not long after Hani’s death, a “right-wing” plot was indeed uncovered to assassinate Slovo.

Both the leader of the “strike unit” and the senior ANC security operative who, according to the document, would have ordered the assassination, are identified in the document by their ANC noms de guerre. The M&G this week traced the “leader of the strike unit” – an ex-special forces soldier who joined the ANC.

He admitted having known Riley and still having contact with Riley’s CCB colleague Ferdie Barnard, but said the document contained “disinformation”.

But last week the spotlight again swung away from possible ANC involvement. An intelligence report prepared last month for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), successor to the NIS, was leaked to the weekly New Nation. It alleges the “second gunman” was in the employ of a private security firm on the East Rand, which gave him a perfect excuse to monitor Hani’s house.

He would have been commanded by a senior ex-MI member, and would have been friends with a member of the Boksburg City Council civil defence department who, it is claimed, tried to have the police release Waluz immediately after his arrest.

The M&G has been able to establish the names of the security firm and the three people referred to. The security firm employee this week denied he had anything to do with the plot, but acknowledged being friends with the former MI member and the civil defence department member, as indicated in the report.

While the M&G has been unable to verify the attempt to have Waluz released, two other incidents described in the NIA report have been corroborated. The report claims the same security firm employee had planned to sabotage Shereno Printers near Boksburg, which printed ANC publicity material, but that it was aborted when the printers were warned. It also claims the employee had entered Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house to assassinate her, but that he left when then ANC Youth League leader Peter Mokaba entered her house.

The M&G this week established Shereno Printers had indeed been warned they would be sabotaged, while Mokaba confirmed the incident at Madikizela-Mandela’s house. In neither case, though, could it be established whether the security firm employee had been the perpetrator.

The web grows more intricate. But to what extent the allegations surfacing now are the truth – and to what extent they may be attempts to use an emotive subject for a quick political buck – remains to be seen.