I’m sorry I killed Hani, I now reject apartheid and have gone back to my Catholic roots, says Janusz Walus

07 December 2021 - 08:12
By Naledi Shange
Soldiers line the road outside Chris Hani's home in Dawn Park, Boksburg as a police van prepares to take the body of the SACP leader away on April 10,1993.
Image: Herbert Mabuza / Times archives Soldiers line the road outside Chris Hani's home in Dawn Park, Boksburg as a police van prepares to take the body of the SACP leader away on April 10,1993.

Polish immigrant Janusz Walus, who killed anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani, says he has turned over a new leaf, realises that apartheid was wrong and has grown closer to God during his almost 30-year incarceration.

These revelations were listed in papers filed to the Constitutional Court earlier this year when he applied for the apex court to look into his last failed bid to get parole in March 2020, which had been denied by justice minister Ronald Lamola.

Walus wants the Constitutional Court to set aside the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss his leave to appeal against a high court judgment that upheld the refusal of his parole.

Walus’ legal team shared the papers after last week’s affirmation by the ConCourt that it would hear the matter in February 2022.

In a lengthy affidavit, Walus detailed how since his incarceration in October 2003, he was a reformed man who has over the years tried numerous times to convey his apology to Hani’s widow, Limpho, and his children.

“I have already in the application papers apologised for the crime that I had committed. I have apologised to the Hani family and I have done everything that I could to show remorse and to communicate my apology to the Hani family.

“I have great remorse in respect of what I have done. I realise today that it was completely unacceptable.

“Ever since my incarceration I have returned to my Roman Catholic faith which has helped me fully understand my wrongdoings. I have accepted the new SA, its constitution and its constitutional dispensation,” Walus said.

He and right-wing politician Clive Derby-Lewis were sentenced to death for murdering Hani, the SA Communist Party’s general secretary. Hani was shot dead outside his home in Boksburg on April 10, 1993.

Derby-Lewis and Walus’ sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment when SA abolished the death penalty. Derby-Lewis, who had allegedly ordered the hit carried out by Walus, was granted medical parole in 2015 and died the following year of cancer.

The now 68-year-old Walus, who is incarcerated at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Facility, said his time behind bars had led to him having interactions with black people. This, he said, had given him a better understanding of them.

If I do not succeed with this application, it appears that I will be incarcerated forever, which is an unjust, inhumane and cruel punishment
Janusz Walush

“I have had lots of interaction with many different persons of different races in prison, and I have come to realise that apartheid was wrong and that all persons are born equal and I reject racism in any form,” Walus said.

“I accept democracy to the extent that I accept that a party which was voted for by the majority of the people should govern and that the ANC is the governing party because of that reason,” he added.

Walus emphasised he was no longer a danger to anyone.

“I submit that I have demonstrated that I have become completely rehabilitated, that I will not repeat such a crime, a similar offence, or any crime for that matter again in future. I am genuinely sorry for what I have done.”

Walus filed papers with the Constitutional Court in the hope that it will find that the Supreme Court of Appeal was wrong in dismissing his leave to appeal against a ruling delivered by the high court in Pretoria where he was again denied parole.

He said he believed that the court had misdirected itself in finding that Lamola had considered him for parole without having a proper understanding and appreciation of the scope of discretion which he was called upon to exercise.

Walus said according to the current correctional services manuals which came into place after 1994, he should have been eligible for parole after serving 13 years and four months behind bars.

But, he said, there was “continuous shifting of the goalposts and new reasons for refusing parole by various ministers”.

He added that previous ministers and their advisers had shown bias and incompetence when it came to the handling of his matter.

Lamola, Walus said, was seemingly being irrational and unreasonable in his decision to refuse him parole.

Over the years, his parole had been denied for several reasons — first because victim offender dialogues in 2011 had not taken place with Hani’s family. He tried to rectify this, but failed, he said.

In 2013, he again appeared before the parole board on appeal. This time, Hani’s widow was also present but rejected Walus’ apology, saying it was self-serving and insincere. In 2013, he wrote her a letter expressing his remorse.

In 2015, at what would have been his second appeal attempt, Walus was again denied parole, with the-then justice minister saying the department would look into security threats that may exist should he be released.

Walus appealed against this in the high court and the court ordered that he be released. But then-minister Michael Masutha appealed against the high court decision before the SCA. The court ruled in his favour, saying instead that he should make a fresh decision on the matter, taking into consideration victim impact statements filed by the Hani family.

A fresh parole hearing took place in October 2017 where Walus said incorrect information, such as allegations that he had failed to attend anger management and life skills classes, was brought to the fore. His parole application was refused.

He applied again in January 2019 and failed, with the reasons given being that Walus had depression and anger management issues. The decision to block Walus’ parole was set aside by the high court and referred back to the justice minister for consideration.

Among Lamola’s reasons for denying the parole application was that the trial court which had jailed him had wanted to send a message that would clarify that assassinating political leaders was unacceptable.

In conclusion, Walus said it was of public importance to establish the reasons and grounds for his continued incarceration.

“If I do not succeed with this application, it appears that I will be incarcerated forever, which is an unjust, inhumane and cruel punishment,” he said.