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‘This decision hurts’: Honey’s friends share stories of his kindness as they protest Walus’ parole

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  • Unions and politicians protested the release of Chris Hani’s killer Janusz Walus on Saturday.
  • Nearly 30 years after his death, those gathered say it feels as if Hani’s death just happened.
  • A friend talks about Hani’s kindness and how he treated MK fighters in Botswana.

The parole of Janusz Walus is a “second death” for Chris Hani, say friends of the slain leader.

And 29 years later, they feel the pain of his murder as if it had just happened.

On Saturday, a group of SACP, COSATU, MKMVA and ANC leaders gathered on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg to express their displeasure at the Constitutional Court’s granting of parole to Walus.

Speaking to a small number of members and the media, they said they appreciate Hana’s kindness the most. And if he had survived, he would have been a capable leader, even a president, and there probably wouldn’t have been any issues of corruption.

His death was spoken of in a Christian manner, saying that he died for our freedom, and that his murderer should never be free.

Panyaza Lesufi, the recently minted premier of Gauteng, is leading the campaign to keep Walus in prison.

He described the pain of his death as a wound that had just been opened.

READ ALSO | 29 years in prison for the murder of Chris Hani: who is Janusz Walus?

He and other leaders say Walus should not be eligible for parole because he never spoke out about those behind Hani’s murder, and because he has shown no remorse.

The pain they feel comes not only from the leadership they believe the country has lost, but on a more personal level, from the loss of a man who was described as kind and sensitive to suffering.

MK veteran Dan Hatta was at the protest and described the man who led it and became a friend in the MK camp in Botswana.

In 1987, Hani left Zimbabwe for Botswana to lead MK operations on the Botswana-Zimbabwe border. Later, he was appointed head of staff of MK.

“Committed Leader”

Hatto was a young MK member working in Botswana.

In 1988, Hatto and three other young MK members were targeted in an attack that burned their home to the ground.

At the time, the South African Defense Forces conducted several raids on MK members.

READ ALSO | Janusz Walus – Done, let him go – he will always be the man who pushed SA to the brink

Hatto survived and was accepted by Hani in the leader’s camp.

“I was the only person who survived. I only came with a plastic bag containing my toothbrush,” Hata said. “He asked me about the bag, and I explained that I lost everything in the fire.

“He gave me two shirts, two jackets and a pair of trousers. That’s how he was. He is the man who made us who we are today.

“Chris knew each of us by name, he was a selfless leader and always asked about our families. And the way he talked about our families, it was like he knew them.”

Chris Honey. Photo file.

Images of Gallo Images of Gallo, Die Burger archive

Hata said that if Walus spent time with Honey, he would understand how [the different races] could live together.

“The first thing Hani asked when I met him was not the raid report, but how I was feeling and if I needed any clothes.”

In another story, Hutto described the night Honey was stung by a bee.

“One morning we woke up at camp and Chris had a swollen face. He was stung by a bee but refused to go to the hospital despite the swelling.

“He was the kind of leader who was always among his soldiers. He will not leave us.

“This is the kind of leader we are talking about, that’s why we are here today [in protest of the parole]. This is the solution [to parole Walus] it hurts.

“We want honesty and truth, we want to know who is behind the murder and we are not being recognized.”

SACP general secretary Solly Mapailo said the group was working to overturn the court’s decision. He said they would be outside waiting for Valus when he was released.

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