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South Africa’s Anti-apartheid Hero, Chris Hani’s Monument Vandalised

A monument in honour of South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani has been vandalised, days after a court ordered the release of his far-right killer.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) and its allies described the incident as a “provocative attack”.

Hani was regarded as the most popular leader in South Africa after anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The court’s decision to release his killer, Janusz Walus, on parole has caused outrage in ANC circles.

Walus killed Hani in 1993 in a failed attempt to derail South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule to democratic rule.

Hani was picking up the newspapers outside his home when Walus shot him at point-blank range in the chin, behind the ear and in the chest.

The 50-year-old anti-apartheid fighter was the leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and a senior member of the ANC’s military wing.

Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral, about a year before Mandela became South Africa’s first black president, heralding the end of apartheid – a legalised system of racial discrimination against black people.

South Africa’s highest court ruled last week that after nearly three decades in prison, Walus was entitled to parole and there was little prospect of him reoffending.

The monument to Hani was unveiled in 2015 in the cemetery where he is buried in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.

“The monument was vandalised on Saturday night. One of the pillars is badly damaged, one side just fell off. And the electric lighting system was stolen,” Ekurhuleni council spokesman Zweli Dlamini told AFP news agency.

A reporter for South Africa’s state broadcaster has tweeted a photo showing the damage to the monument:

It is unclear who vandalised it and an investigation has been opened.

In a joint statement, the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP) and the country’s largest trade union federation said the vandalisation was “tantamount to a continuation of Chris Hani’s assassination in the grave”.

It should be seen in the context of the court’s ruling, which had “pleased unrepentant apartheid perpetrators”, the statement added.

The ANC and Hani’s family had vigorously campaigned against Walus’s release, but the court said that he had apologised to Hani’s family “more than once” and it was unlawful to continue denying him parole.

He had been sentenced to death following his conviction in 1993, but it was commuted to life after South Africa abolished the death penalty.

Hani’s widow Limpho condemned the court’s ruling as “truly diabolical”.

Walus is a Polish immigrant whose South African citizenship was revoked in 2017.

The South African government has ruled out deporting him to Poland, saying he would serve his parole in the country.

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