South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ordered the release of Janusz Walus, the man jailed for killing anti-apartheid leader Chris Hani in 1993.
Hani was killed outside his home in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, in an assassination that threatened to plunge South Africa into political violence ahead of its transition from white minority rule to democracy.
Hani was the leader of the ruling African National Congress’ military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and was the general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Walus, now a 69-year-old Polish citizen, was sentenced to life in prison and his applications to be released on parole have been rejected by several justice ministers.
He was convicted alongside Clive Derby-Lewis, who was released on medical parole in 2015 and died in 2016.
However, the Constitutional Court delivered a unanimous judgment in favour of Walus after reviewing Justice Minister Ronald Lamola’s 2020 decision to reject his application.
According to the judgment, Walus should be placed on parole in the next 10 days. The court said he had met the threshold to be released on parole, and described the minister’s decision to reject his application as irrational.
The South African Communist Party on Sunday rejected the court’s decision, saying it was an attack on Hani’s family and the organization that he led before his death. General secretary Solly Mapaila told reporters outside the court that the ruling was an injustice to the people of South Africa who had lost their loved ones during apartheid.
“The Constitutional Court is a court of democracy, it cannot be upholding apartheid injustice. This is an injustice by the highest court,” said Mapaila.