Hani's killers confront the truth test

As the men who shot dead SA's Communist leader seek amnesty, blacks fear that true justice may be sacrificed

Nomakhwezi, the teenage daughter of the late Chris Hani, one of South Africa's towering political figures, sat quietly in the front row of Pretoria City Hall yesterday looking at her father's killers just feet away.

As she gazed at Polish immigrant Janusz Walus, 42, and at Clive Derby- Lewis, 61, former South African Conservative Party MP, her mind must surely have drifted back to 10 April 1993.

That was the day Walus pumped four bullets into her father in the drive of their home. As her father's blood spilled across the paving stones and Nomakhwezi ran screaming for help, South Africa, in the middle of its precarious political transition, looked into the abyss.

With the murder of Hani - leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP), former head of the African National Congress's military wing and darling of the townships - the peace talks that promised to make Nelson Mandela the country's first democratically elected president hung by a thread. In the days leading up to his funeral, South Africa threatened to explode.

Yesterday Nomakhwezi, with her mother Limpho, watched Walus and Derby- Lewis ask the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for amnesty. Prominent ANC figures and SACP leaders joined them. It is the most politically sensitive case to have come before the Commission. According to Cheryl Carolus, the ANC's acting secretary general, it is the case which truly tests the credibility of the controversial TRC.

The Hanis, the ANC politicians and the SACP came to oppose the application of Walus, who pulled the trigger, and Derby-Lewis, who provided the gun and masterminded the assassination. The men are already serving life for the murder.

Central is the belief that Walus and Derby-Lewis were part of a wider political conspiracy. The most credible theory is that other extreme right- wingers were involved in the murder although the National Party and even Hani's ANC comrades have been accused of involvement.

The TRC balances its controversial power to offer amnesty with a promise to expose the truth about the atrocities of the apartheid era. Victims' families, barred from taking legal action against perpetrators if amnesty is granted, are expected to be comforted with the knowledge of how their loved ones died. Amnesty is, therefore, supposed to be granted only if full disclosure is made.

The Hani case highlights growing disquiet that the TRC is failing to reveal enough truths to justify depriving victims' families of redress through the courts.

"Hani was prepared to forgive," said Sam Tsiane, a local SACP official. "It is fine to grant amnesty, but only if they tell the truth. We want to know who gave them their instructions. Anything less and the TRC will lose the confidence of the community." His comrade was less compromising. "If they grant them amnesty it makes a mockery of the TRC."

The small group of right-wing supporters - including Derby-Lewis's wife Gaye, 58, who was acquitted of Hani's murder - was furious when the Hani family's counsel, George Bizos produced statements made by Walus and Derby-Lewis in detention which apparently contradict their claim that they acted alone. The statements were not used in the original court case and are crucial to the Hani family's contention that full disclosure has not been made and amnesty cannot be granted.

Walus's lawyer claimed the statements were inadmissible because the police had plied him with alcohol. Gerald Derby-Lewis, Clive's younger brother, said: "These statements were made under torture." Mr Derby-Lewis said he did not share his brother's politics but found it incredible that the TRC might not grant him amnesty after recently freeing four black youths who murdered an American student Amy Biehl.

Yesterday, Walus and Derby-Lewis insisted again that they acted alone. Walus claimed he killed Hani to prevent a handover to Communist rule. He said a "hit list" - comprising of nine names including Hani's and Mr Mandela's - found in his possession came from Derby-Lewis's home. He stuck by the explanation given at his trial: Gaye Derby-Lewis had drawn up the list for use in parliament. He had simply borrowed it.

When Walus and Derby-Lewis were originally found guilty, Limpho Hani said justice had been only half done. Full satisfaction would come when the other "plotters" were found. If the TRC fail to find any other conspirators and Walus and Derby-Lewis walk free, Mrs Hani, and countless South Africans, will feels she has had no justice at all.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?