The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is disgusted by the callous, insensitive, and cold decision of the Constitutional Court to grant parole to Jansz Walus — the man who together with others, planned and assassinated one of the finest revolutionaries South Africa has ever produced, Chris Hani.
We are angry and hurt because we believe that justice has failed not just comrade Limpho Hani, her children and the entire family but millions of South Africans who today still suffer the consequences of the calculated cold-blood murder of their hero.
The Constitutional Court has made an unfortunate statement not just to the family and genuine comrades of Chris Hani, but to the whole nation that there is no justice for the citizens of South Africa. The death sentence was done away with by the Constitutional Court. Now we also know there is no such thing as sentencing criminals to life in prison. It does not matter how gruesome murder or rape criminals are convicted for. The unfortunate statement the Constitutional Court has communicated to the victims of crime and the lower courts is that sentencing people who have committed heinous crimes, such as Jansz Walus, is a hollow statement meant to pull the wool on the eyes of the victims of crime. The perpetrators will now enjoy that they have a right to be paroled and the victims of their deeds cannot be returned to enjoy life.
The working class and the family of Chris Hani have suffered immensely from the trauma caused by the slaying of their father by the racist anti-communist monsters, Walus, and his late accomplice, Clive Derby-Lewis. A message to the nation, particularly the working-class majority, is that we are on our own.
It is when the courts act so irresponsible that two things will happen. On the one hand, citizens are being told that there is no justice here as the law favours the perpetrators of crime. On the other hand, the victims of crime are being told that they must resort to street justice to revenge the killing of their beloved family members.
The family of the four year old child that was raped and dismembered will know that their terrible pain and the minimal comfort brought by the arrest of the suspect would be short-lived. Likewise, the families of the 86 women who were raped and scores killed would remain hopeless of getting justice since the crooks would be entitled to release.
SAFTU demands that the constitution and all the laws on paroles must be amended. We accept that the death penalty must not return, but at least sentencing criminals like Janusz Walus to life in prison must mean life in prison. The technical legalities redefining the meaning of “life imprisonment” must be dispensed with.
SAFTU further calls on the progressive formations to march and hand over a memorandum not just going directly to President Cyril Ramaphosa who SAFTU demands must engineer amendments of the constitution and legislation but to Raymond Zondo, and Janusz Walus’s residence to demand justice, not just justice for Chris Hani but for all the victims of crime. Justice Zondo and his judges have no idea of the ordinary pain people are feeling every day. The working class know that they would not be suffering the humiliation of racism, sexism, grinding poverty, inequalities and poverty had Chris Hani lived.
We have warned over and over about the superficial transformation that is far removed from addressing society’s structural fault lines such as racism, class super exploitation and patriarchal fabric. Removing white faces with black faces in this country’s governance simply do not go far in transformation. The Constitutional Court’s decision to release Walus, who, alongside Derby-Lewis, almost plunged this country into a bloody civil war, means nothing to the Justices because it is not sensitive to the class and race dimensions of transformation.
SAFTU is also livid, mainly because this reminds us that another tormentor and murderer, Eugene de Kock, was not only given parole but was given accommodation and an R40 000 salary secretly by the ANC government. This is a statement of gratitude to the engineers of killings aimed at anti-apartheid activists. It says, ‘thank you for killing our brothers and sisters, heroes, and heroines. There are over 300 hard criminals that arrogantly refused to apply for amnesty for the crimes committed against the people of this country. This government has refused to act against those criminals when asked to do so by the TRC. We wonder why?
We want to know why the victims of colonialism and apartheid are being subjected to this injustice. What is the pact that exists and assures murderers will be treated with kid gloves while the victims are treated with disdain.
For us, it appears that there is a direct connection between the killing of Chris Hani and other heroes and heroines and the ditching of the historic mission to politically and economically liberate the oppressed and marginalised masses of South Africa by the ANC government.
In the context of mass poverty, rife exploitation, corruption and poor public services, the death of Chris Hani, Stephen Biko, Robert Sobukwe, et al. are in vain. The whole struggle is in vain. There is no true freedom for the youth when over 74% of them are languishing in structural unemployment; when 50% of the black people are unemployed; when women are not just victims of unemployment but of the deep-rooted culture of patriarchy that is reproduced, and manifest itself in heinous deeds of rape and daily humiliation.