Killer of S.African anti-apartheid hero Hani stabbed in jail days after court freed him on parole          

Janusz

In this file photo taken on August 11, 1997 Janusz Walus, a Polish immigrant, sits at a hearing in the Pretoria City Hall.  South Africa's top court on November 21, 2022 ordered his release in a case where he was convicted for fatally shooting a prominent anti-apartheid hero in 1993, a death that nearly sparked a civil war.

Photo credit: AFP

Summary

  • Gunman who killed Chris Hani in 1993 was attacked by another inmate after he was granted parole, authorities say.

The killer of South African anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani has been stabbed in prison, days after the country's top court ordered him to be released on parole, the prison services said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Department of Correctional Services said it was "able to confirm an unfortunate stabbing incident" involving Janusz Walus, who has spent nearly three decades in jail for the 1993 killing.

Walus, 69, had been due to be released by Thursday, under last week's order by the Constitutional Court. 

The prison service said "Walus is stable" and receiving necessary health care.

"It is alleged that Walus was stabbed by another inmate from the same housing unit," it said, adding that investigations were underway.

Walus was handed a life sentence for the murder of Hani, a hugely popular figure and fierce opponent of the apartheid regime. 

Hani was shot dead in the driveway of his house, only a year before South Africa's first multi-racial elections.

The shooting occurred just as negotiations to end apartheid were entering their final phase, stoking tensions that some feared would erupt into civil war.

Last week, South Africa's top court controversially ordered Walus, who had immigrated from then-communist Poland, to be released on parole.

Hani's gravesite

The decision was described as "diabolical" by Hani's widow and unleashed bitter protests by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP), which were in the forefront of the fight against apartheid.

At the weekend, Hani's gravesite and memorial in a suburb east of Johannesburg were vandalised.

In a joint statement with trade unions, the ANC and SACP condemned the attack and said it came in the context of a judgment that "pleased unrepentant apartheid perpetrators." 

On Monday, the home affairs ministry announced Walus would have to serve his parole in South Africa, saying he should not be allowed to return home to Poland given the "heinous crime committed."