The 2014 national elections of South Africa will be held on May 7, and the report concerning Clive Lewis Derby serving a life sentence for the assassination of Chris Hani a communist still captures attention. Chris Hani was assassinated on April 10, 1993 as he returned home on that fateful day. Clive Lewis Derby was linked to the white nationalist AWB forum. A conspiracy linking his assassination to the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party of South Africa at that time was never investigated.
The influence and popularity of Hani was growing, and his unwavering commitment to fight for the struggle during the apartheid years gained momentum within the ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP) parties. Hani, a charming and charismatic person, attracted a cult following. A political leader who influenced a Radical Township self-defense group that parted from the ANC authority.
Upon his return from the Soviet Union, Hani left South Africa and serviced as a political commissioner of a combination of the ANC and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) fighting against the Rhodesian forces. In 1967, he was arrested for two years on charges of possession of weapons. While in prison, Hani, did not receive any help from the ANC leadership and this left him critical of their failure to accommodate comrades. Upon his release from prison, Hani insisted on a national executive meeting with the ANC to discuss his grievances.
Hani remained a loyal patriot of the ANC and continued his campaign for the struggle, although he denied involvement of torture and murder. He was elected to the ANC National Executive Committee. During the same time, Hani became a senior member of the SACP.
When the terrorist parties were unbanned in South Africa during 1990, Hani returned to South Africa and profusely campaigned in the townships for support of the parties. During 1992, Hani gave up the position of Chief of Staff of the ANC’s military wing and took over the role of General Secretary of the SACP.
Communism collapsed in Europe, and this had an adverse affect on the SACP. The ANC was prominently a communist party, supporting socialist ideology. Hani did not give up and vigorously campaigned for the SACP and reaped the rewards of a massive membership. The SACP was doing extremely well and better than the ANC.
During preparations for the 1994, first democratic election in South Africa, the SACP under the leadership of Chris Hani proved to be a serious contender and the ANC might not have won. The timing of his assassination and AWB member’s arrests happened quickly.
During the turbulent years, the AWB recognized Hani as a threat to the safety of the country. The planned assassination happened, their capture, the trial and sentencing took only six months to complete. The death sentence was imposed and then overturned by the new government.
Both Walus and Derby-Lewis appeared before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing. The assassination was a political crime, and both were not granted amnesty.
Derby-Lewis, is 78 years old, suffering from terminal cancer and has twice been denied medical parole. Recently both prisoners were attacked by inmates and suffered cuts to their head and hands.
If Hani had survived his assassination, there would have been a fear of the SACP being a serious match for the ruling ANC.
Derby-Lewis and Walus were both members of the Conservative party (CA) a right-wing party opposing the ruling apartheid government’s decision to unban terrorist parties and begin negotiations. Chris Hani was a threat, his record of torture and murder during the conflict years left terrified intentions in the hearts of the right-wing organizations.
Hani was a fundamental political target and regarded as public enemy number one by the right wingers. His popularity and tremendous support structure from the majority of the masses sparked a panic that would make him the successor of Nelson Mandela.
The 2014 elections to be held on May 7 for South Africa are a time of reflection on the past and a glimpse of what the future might have been. Chris Hani was a communist and an incredibly respected man who stood for a higher ideal. His death was not a blessing or a curse, his life was influenced by a political vision of a better life for all.
By Laura Oneale