Court’s decision to release Hani’s killer ‘disappointing’ – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed disappointment at the Constitutional Court’s decision to release Chris Hani’s killer, Janusz Waluś on parole.

Ramaphosa was briefing the media after he wrapped up his two-day state visit to the UK at the invitation of newly ordained King Charles III on Thursday.

The decision to release Waluś is “disappointing” and unfortunate to say the least, according to the president, who said Hani played a critical role in the country’s liberation struggle for freedom.

“So, you can say that Chris Hani’s death was part of what formed the democracy that we have, and it is unfortunate,” Ramaphosa said, adding that he has not read the court judgment to see the rationale behind the release of Waluś.

However, he said he cannot imagine the “heavy pain and burden” that the Hani family is going through.

On Monday, the apex court set Waluś free at the ripe age of 69, after several years of unsuccessfully trying to have the country’s authorities release him on parole. The court ordered that Waluś be placed on parole within 10 days.

In the ruling, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the Bill of Rights must be applied equally, including to someone like Waluś, who qualified for parole 15 years ago.

“It was in 2005 that the applicant became eligible for consideration to be placed on parole. The minister [of justice and correctional services Ronald Lamola] accepts that the applicant has shown strong remorse for the crime he committed,” reads the judgment.

“The evidence reveals that during his imprisonment all these years since 1993, the applicant has had no negative disciplinary record in prison. The minister accepts that the applicant’s risk of reoffending, if he were to be placed on parole, is low. The applicant has apologised to Mrs Hani and her family more than once.

“The applicant cannot do anything about the nature of the crime he committed nor can he do anything about the sentence remarks that the trial court had made about him and the crime he committed.”

In 1999, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission refused Waluś’ application for amnesty. The commission, headed by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said it based its decision on the belief that Waluś failed to make a full disclosure and much-needed closure for his victims.

Waluś gunned down Hani at his home in Dawn Park near Boksburg, on the east of Johannesburg in April 1993 in what right wingers thought would derail plans for the country’s first democratic election in 1994.

The Polish-born Waluś was sentenced to death, but the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment after a democratic South Africa abolished the capital punishment.

At the time of his death, Hani, who was largely seen as a future president of South Africa, was the general secretary of the SACP. He also served as chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC.

Also read: SACP leader Chris Hani’s killer to be released on parole

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