10 April 2013

20 Years since the assassination of Chris Hani

AL2446_2358_The_SAHA_Poster_CollectionApril 10 marks 20 years since the assassination of the South African Communist Party leader and Commander of uMkhonto weSizwe (ANC military wing), Chris Hani in 1993, aged 47.

He was killed by Janusz Walus who used a pistol lent to him by a senior MP, Clive Derby-Lewis, who belonged to the Konserwatiewe Party van Suid-Afrika (Conservative Party of South Africa).

Hani was shot on his driveway at his home in a mixed-race suburb of Dawn Park in Boksburg, about 30kms outside Johannesburg. The assassin was seen by Hani's Afrikaner neighbour who alerted the police leading to his arrest, along with Clive-Derby Lewis, who was deemed an accomplice. The two were sentenced to death and had their sentences reduced to life following the abolishment of the death sentence in South Africa after the new democratic constitution was adopted.

Chris Hani is often described as a charismatic leader who enjoyed support from the majority of anti-apartheid activists, especially the radical and militant youth of the time. His invaluable contribution to the struggle against apartheid has seen him receiving many posthumous honours such as having the Baragwanath Hospital named Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. There is also a municipality in the Eastern Cape and various university halls and residences which are named after him.

Clive Derby-Lewis, 77, has been pleading for parole with the Correctional Services department on grounds that he's terminally ill; he's over 70 years of age and has served nearly 20 years behind bars. He has not yet been successful in this endeavor. This has sparked mixed feelings among South Africans with some saying he deserves to rot in jail and some arguing that denying him parole is against constitutional provisions.

A writer, Mkhandeli, on MyNews24 wrote: ‘Apartheid style techniques are used to keep Derby-Lewis in prison. Like Sobukwe, whom the apartheid government went as far as passing a law to ensure his perpetual detention, we see a similar trait with Derby-Lewis, except this time there is no formal legislation to endorse it. Only politicians behind curtains bargain for him to remain in prison because of their hatred toward Hani's killer.'

Derby-Lewis and the TRC

Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus were both denied amnesty after the TRC Amnesty Committee concluded that the pair did not act on orders from anyone. 

Visit the SAHA/SABC newly-launched TRC website for the Clive Derby-Lewis' TRC amnesty hearing proceedings.

Watch Derby-Lewis's wife, Gaye's TRC hearing


SAHA is in possession of Derby-Lewis's TRC amnesty application documents in the following collection:

AL2878 The Freedom of Information Collection

SAHA also has in its custody material relating to Chris Hani in a number of other collections, including the following:

AL2446 The SAHA Poster Collection
AL3283 The De Wet Potgieter Collection