Chris Hani: The men behind his killing

Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the death of struggle hero Chris Hani.

It’s almost impossible to talk about Hani without mentioning the two men responsible for his death.

Polish truck driver Janusz Walus gunned down Hani outside his Boksburg home on April 10, 1993.

Former Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis had conspired to plunge the country into a race war and scupper the reconciliation process ahead of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, with a series of assassinations.

Derby-Lewis supplied the pistol for the assassination.


The two men were sentenced to death for their actions, but the sentences were converted to life terms after the death penalty was abolished.

During the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the early 90s, Derby-Lewis claimed he had acted “in defence of my people, who were threatened with a Communist takeover” and added that his faith had been central to his actions.

“As a Christian, my first duty is to the Almighty God before everything else. We were fighting against communism, and communism is the vehicle of the Antichrist,” he claimed.

The TRC rejected his application in April 1999. A high court bid the following year, aimed at having the TRC’s decision overturned, was also rejected.

In June 2010, Derby-Lewis unsuccessfully applied for parole on the grounds that he was older than 70 and entitled to parole because he spent more than 15 years in prison. He had also been receiving treatment for skin cancer, prostate cancer and hypertension. However, Minister of Justice Michael Masutha remained resolute, denying him medical parole in 2011, in 2013 and again in January 2015.

In a move that angered the Hani family as well as the SACP, Judge Selby Baqwa ruled in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that he should be released on medical parole in May 2015. He died at the age of 80 in 2016.

Lindiwe Hani was the first in the family to meet with the men. In her memoir Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, she described how difficult it was to listen to Walus’ description of how he killed her father. Lindiwe however, called Walus “genuine” and added that, while she did not know if she would forgive him, she believed that he was remorseful.

Walus apparently fled his home country of Poland in the 1980s. He has applied for parole three times. Masutha denied his first application in 2013. In another bid, Walus launched a review application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which set aside the minister’s decision and granted him parole.

Masutha however, appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which gave the minister 90 days to decide.

Masutha again denied the Polish man parole and cited that he was a risk to society and showed no remorse for killing the SACP leader.

Walus remains in prison. — News24

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa Associate Leturer and Co-ordinator of the Honors Programme.

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