The Assasination Of Chris Hani

The assassination of Chris Hani


By Janet Smith and Beauregard Tromp 

Derby-Lewis and Walus discussed the possibility of an assault on Hani, and by early March 1993 they had decided to kill him.It had been dubbed the Year of the Great Storm. Disturbed by the slow pace of moves towards democracy, the Azanian People's Liberation Army had carried out attacks on restaurants, churches, farms and bars, killing mainly whites. Days were bloodied by extreme violence in the Natal midlands, with even children caught up in the ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party's war against each other. Even as it sought to manage the anarchy there, the ANC was still reeling from the previous September, when Hani and his former MK comrade Ronnie Kasrils had led a protest in Bisho, Ciskei, against the continuing oppression of the homeland government.Thirty people had been killed and 200 wounded.

Hani's face and voice were everywhere as he embarked on an exhausting journey through townships and villages, city halls and TV studios, talking peace, accelerating the cause of freedom. The ANC had laid down its guns upon its unbanning in 1990 and, many times, in different ways, he urged: "I can't accept people calling for war." Later, Tokyo Sexwale, then the chairperson of the ANC's Gauteng region, would say it was precisely because Hani had been talking peace that he had become "dangerous to this country". In early March 1993, Clive Derby-Lewis received an unlicensed Z88 and had it fitted with a silencer.

The gun, typical of those used by policemen and state security personnel, had started its journey at the Voortrekkerhoogte military base when it was stolen in a raid on the armoury led by rightwinger Piet "Skiet" Rudolph. West Rand rightwinger Lionel du Randt was to deliver the weapon, wrapped in a jersey, to Derby-Lewis at his house in Krugersdorp. The weapon had been dropped off at Du Randt's house by Faan Venter, who had procured it out of the lot stolen from the armoury.

Du Randt took the weapon to Derby-Lewis, who organised for a silencer to be fitted by Cape Town rightwinger Keith Darroll, who used a sympathetic gunsmith in Tokai. Derby-Lewis gave Walus the gun on April 6 over breakfast, although it still required ammunition. The former MP would insist their arrangement was still loose at this time, with no date fixed for the hit.
But on the morning of April 10, Walus set out in his red Ford Laser from his flat in the shadow of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

He bought ammunition in Johannesburg then eased on to a road he had taken many times on reconnaissance - Hakea Crescent in Dawn Park, Boksburg. He would later say it was to do a final look around the Hani home, situated on a gentle curve, with a secluded driveway. Pulling up outside the house, Walus encountered Hani leaving home alone, so he followed him the few blocks to the local superette, where Hani bought a newspaper. 

"At that moment, I decided it would be the best opportunity to execute my task and that this opportunity would never be repeated," he would later testify."I decided not to do it in the shopping centre because there were a lot of people." Walus took a different route back to Hakea Crescent, arriving just as Hani pulled up in his Toyota sedan. Donning his gloves, and armed, Walus was ready. He pulled up in his car directly behind Hani's in the driveway. "I put the pistol in the belt of my trousers behind my back," Walus later confessed.

"Seeing Mr Hani move away from the car, I did not want to shoot him in the back. I called to Mr Hani. When he turned I fired the first shot into his body. As he turned and fell down, I fired a second shot at his head." In the doorway was Hani's 15-year-old daughter Nomakhwezi. Having heard her father pull up into the driveway, she was opening the front door to greet him when the gunshots rang out.

"What child should witness such a barbaric crime?" she demanded in a private piece which was only read out at her own funeral by her sister Lindiwe, after her death following an asthma attack in 2001.
Noxolo Grootboom, an SABC journalist and neighbour, was in her kitchen and saw the distraught girl. By the time Grootboom had rushed out of her house and grabbed hold of Nomakhwezi, the red Ford Laser had disappeared around the curve of the crescent. Retha Harmse - another neighbour - had seen it.

At that moment, Harmse had no real sense of exactly what had happened, but her instinct was to call the police straight away.The information she gave them - the numberplate and description of the car - led to an almost immediate arrest. 

Walus, thinking he had made a clean escape, was driving towards the Boksburg city centre when police squad cars pulled up behind him and began to box him in, gesturing for him to pull over.
Even at that stage, he would testify, he thought this was a routine event, so certain was he no one had seen him.But the police ordered him out of the vehicle. In searching it, they found the murder weapon in its box with all the accoutrements of the killing neatly placed around it.Walus admitted at his murder trial: "I knew then that my time was counted." 

In his address to the nation that night, then-ANC president Nelson Mandela made special mention of the "white Afrikaner woman" whose swift actions would eventually bring Hani's killers to justice. 

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