Chris Hani was born on June 28th, 1942 and assassinated on April 10th 1993. Hani was born and raised in a small, rural village named kuSabalele Transkei. He had five other siblings and was the second youngest among them. Hani attended Lovedale school and later studied at the University of Fort Hare where he majored in modern and classical literature.
Hani was only 15 years old when he joined the ANC Youth League. As a student he was very active in protesting against the Bantu Education Act and later joined the armed wing of the ANC, MK. He played a major role in the fight against apartheid and later became MK’s commander.
As years progressed, he eventually moved to the ANC’s headquarters where he was responsible for the suppression of a rebellion by the opposing ANC members in detention camps. By 1990 he permanently returned to South Africa and was appointed head of the South African Communist party in 1991.
Two years later, Chris Hani was assassinated outside his home in Dawn Park, Boksburg. As Hani was stepping out of his car, a Polish immigrant named Janusz Walus shot him in the head.
The assassination was part of a plot by the far-right in South Africa to stop negotiations and attempts to end apartheid. His assassination led to a fear that the country would erupt in violence.
Not long after Chris Hani’s death, Nelson Mandela gave a speech relating to the death of a remarkable ANC leader.
“With all the authority at my command, I appeal to all our people to remain calm and to honor the memory of Chris Hani by remaining a disciplined force for peace” (Mandela, Key ANC…township uprising).
The assassination of Chris Hani caused speculation and criticism among the ANC and political parties. The investigation of the murder lead to the unexpected news that the gun that was used to shoot Hani was stolen from the air force armory in 1990. This information lead to a 6-day investigation and was eventually linked to the Conservative Party President’s Counciler Clive Derby-Lewis. Both Janusz Walus and Clive Derby-Lewis were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Although there were numerous conspiracy theories about outside involvement, the final report of the TRC stated it ”was unable to find evidence that the two murderers convicted of the killing of Chris Hani took orders from international groups, security forces or from higher up in the right-wing echelons” (Conclusions…Assassination).
Chris Hani was a major influence and looked at as a brave, charismatic leader. His constant support throughout his life to the ANC was critical to its success to end apartheid.