Witnesses identify 'Hani killer': Street scuffles and racial insults as trial starts of three charged with murder of ANC leader

AMID scuffles, insults and street protests the trial began yesterday of three right-wingers, two of them foreign-born, charged with the murder of Chris Hani, Communist Party general secretary, African National Congress leader and idol of South Africa's township youth.

Janusz Jacub Walus, Clive John Derby-Lewis and his wife, Gabrielle Mavourna Derby-Lewis, pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court, Johannesburg, to three charges: murder, conspiracy to murder and illegal possession of arms and ammunition.

Before the trial started hundreds of ANC supporters demonstrated on the street outside the court, chanting 'We want Walus]' and 'Hang them]'. All day they kept up a largely cheerful display of revolutionary aerobics.

Inside the courtroom the drama was more intense. A black man who swore at Mrs Derby-Lewis, an Australian-born former nun, provoked her husband into responding, 'Watch your language, you animal]' A white woman who complained because a black man had sat down next to her prompted a white policeman to bark: 'Racism will not be tolerated in this courtroom]'

By contrast Mr Walus, a 38-year- old Polish immigrant, betrayed not a hint of emotion. Tall, blond, gaunt, with ice-blue eyes, he stared impassively as the first two - out of a projected total of 50 - state witnesses all but wrapped up the case against him.

Margarita Harmse was the Afrikaner housewife whose call to the police secured Mr Walus's arrest within 10 minutes of the crime. As an ANC leader said afterwards, had she not performed her civic duty so diligently, had the identity of the alleged killer remained a mystery, the nationwide protests which followed the Hani assassination might well have degenerated into anarchy and racial war.

Mrs Harmse told the court she was driving past Hani's home in the suburb of Dawn Park, east of Johannesburg, at about 10am on 10 April when she heard two shots. She slowed down, saw a man crouching with a gun in his hand and then heard two more shots. She read the number-plates on the gunman's red hatchback car, repeated the numbers out aloud to herself, and then called the police.

Under vigorous cross-questioning from Mr Walus's lawyer, Mrs Harmse responded indignantly, in a shrill, child-like voice, to suggestions that she was lying: 'I saw it. I saw what I saw. That's all there is to say.'

The next witness was Michael Buchanan, a former policeman in his late thirties who lives diagonally opposite the Hani home, in whose driveway the killing occurred. With professional rigour, Mr Buchanan said he had identified the car in a police pound and Mr Walus at an identification parade. 'He stood out like a sore thumb.'

Lawyers observing the case said the state's challenge was to prove the guilt of Mr and Mrs Derby- Lewis: first that they were involved in the murder; second that they bore any responsibility for the gun used; and third that they were engaged in a conspiracy to murder eight other people - Nelson Mandela included - whose names were found in an alleged hit-list at Mr Walus's home.

The connections identified by the state are the following: in January this year Mrs Derby-Lewis, notorious in South Africa for the manner in which she flaunts her racist sentiments, asked a journalist friend to obtain the personal details and addresses of the people found on Mr Walus's list - which contained Hani's address and a photograph of Mr Mandela's home; in February, Mr Derby-Lewis, a former MP and prominent member of the far-right Conservative Party, obtained the gun used in the murder and went to Cape Town to fit a silencer to it; on the morning of the murder, and shortly after, Mr Derby-Lewis phoned Mr Walus at home and left a message for him to call back upon arrival.

Mr Derby-Lewis, a once dapper individual with a trademark RAF officer's moustache, looked haggard yesterday after five months in prison. His hands trembled throughout the day's proceedings. Mrs Derby-Lewis, who is out on bail, looked radiant. Asked by a reporter how she felt, she replied, 'I'm on top of the world.'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Valerie Trierweiler’s book paints Hollande as a cold-hearted hypocrite
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
filmsMockingjay Part 1 taking hit franchise to new levels
Life and Style
techSweet Peach says scent 'shows more important things are working'
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
i100
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

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Ashdown Group: Junior Reports Developer / Application Support Engineer

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Recruitment Genius: Client Support Officer

£10 - £11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The candidate must be committed, engag...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible