About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

TRC findings and other related pieces

311. Chris Hani was gunned down on Easter weekend 1993 at his home in Dawn Park. Polish immigrant Januzs Walus [AM0270/96] and CP MP Mr Clive Derby-Lewis [AM0271/96] applied for amnesty for the killing. Hani's death led to fears of widespread reprisals and counter-reprisals that could derail the negotiations and an international team was set up to probe his assassination. Both Walus and Derby-Lewis were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Allegations still abound that a wider conspiracy was involved in the assassination. Some of those alleged to have been involved (names withheld at this stage) have also been implicated in intelligence documents as part of the so-called 'Inner Circle' or 'Binnekring' of 67 members of special forces (mainly CCB) and MI allegedly set up in July 1990. According to the former Transkei Intelligence Service they were tasked to carry out special operations by top generals in former MI structures.

312. Both Derby-Lewis and Walus had strong ties with Mr Koos Vermeulen, leader and founder of both the World Preservatist Movement (WPB) and the World Apartheid Movement (WAB). Both were and are suspected to have been South African Police fronts. Others associated with WAB include right-wingers Mr Adrian Maritz and Mr Henry Martin, both former intelligence sources. Maritz and Martin often worked closely with CCB operative Leonard Veenendal when he carried out violations between 1989 and 1991. Walus himself operated as a NIS source. The weapon used in the killing was stolen from the Pretoria SAAF air base by Piet 'Skiet' Rudolph, Veenendal and Francois van Rensburg in April 1991.

THE COMMISSION 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.

Violence in the wake of Chris Hani's assassination

400. Widespread protests and some violence followed the news of the assassination in Johannesburg of Mr Chris Hani on 10 April 1993. During one of the demonstrations, police opened fire on a crowd in Uitenhage. The exact circumstances of the shooting are not known. Among the victims was fourteen-year-old Zilindile Manyashe [EC1098/96UIT], who was shot dead. On 12 April 1993 Mr Bongani Bakhe [EC2388/97UIT] was also shot dead by police during a demonstration. Mr Fezile Fumbata [EC1071/96UIT] and Mr Andile Faltein [EC1089/96UIT] were both shot in the stomach and recovered after hospital treatment.

401. Mr Khayalethu James [EC1840/97ALB] was shot and injured by the SAP during unrest in Grahamstown on 15 April 1993 when youth were looting and setting vehicles alight. In Zwide, Port Elizabeth, Mr Mtutuzeli Msikinya [EC1847/97PLZ] was shot and injured by SAP on 18 April 1993.

402. In Transkei, there were attacks on whites in various areas. Mr Alistair Weakley and Mr Glen Weakley [EC0303/96PLZ] were killed in one such attack near Port St Johns on 13 April 1993. The Commission received amnesty applications from three ANC members, Mr Phumelele Civilian Hermans [AM7581/97], Mr Lungile Mazwi [AM5203/97] and Mr Mlulamisi Maxhayi [AM7207/97], in connection with this attack.

460. In 1993, Mr Glen Weakley and Mr Alistair Weakley were killed in the Transkei by ANC members in the wake of Chris Hani's assassination. Their sister Ms Roslyn Stratford testified that Alistair, a lawyer from Grahamstown, and his brother Glenn, an engineer from Durban, were on a fishing holiday when they were ambushed and shot dead. The five attackers were all arrested and appeared in Umtata supreme court on murder charges. The accused admitted to being members of the ANCYL and claimed to have been driven by revenge for the death of Chris Hani. However, it is clear that in this case the ANC's policy was not to engage in acts of violence in retaliation for Hani's death - especially not against white civilians - and the ANC as a party cannot be held responsible for the actions of these members.

236. By the late 1970s, South African security had identified Mr Chris Hani as the most important MK operative in the immediate region. A former high-ranking MI officer told the Commission that he had attended at least one meeting of senior SADF generals where a senior MI officer presented a plan for Hani's killing. The meeting was chaired by General Viljoen. The plan was vetoed as the safety of Hani's family could not be guaranteed.

237. Clearly, other plans were approved as, in the early 1980s, a number of attempts were made by the security police and the SADF to kill Hani in Lesotho. In addition to the major SADF incursion of December 1982, at least two other attempts were made on his life. The first was in early 1980, when his house was bombed. Later in August of the same year, Mr Ernest Ramatlala, a police informer who had been given training in the handling of explosives by the SAP, attempted to attach a bomb to Hani's car which was parked in the driveway of his house. The bomb exploded prematurely and Ramatlala was seriously hurt. Ramatlala was granted bail but fled back to South Africa where he was given sanctuary at Vlakplaas. He later joined the SAP.

238. Two years later, on 2 August 1982, Hani's home was damaged in a bomb blast. Hani was absent but one person was hurt in the attack. This incident coincided with another attack on the house of a South African exile where a Mr T Banzi was seriously injured. No amnesty applications were received for these operations.

THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT MR CHRIS HANI WAS TARGETED FOR ELIMINATION BY SOUTH AFRICAN SECURITY FORCES AND THAT THEY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR SEVERAL ATTEMPTS TO KILL HIM IN LESOTHO IN THE EARLY 1980S.

275. Racial tension mounted in a number of regions following the killing of Communist Party leader Mr Chris Hani. Leading figures in the extreme right wing warned of retaliation in the event of reprisals following Hani's death. Heavily armed, flag-carrying AWB members and its Ystergarde drove around townships threatening residents that they would suffer the same fate as Chris Hani. The Boere Weerstands- beweging warned that it would embark on a cleansing process, eliminating all black communists and agitators. The AWB Wenkommando promised merciless attacks on anyone who threatened the lives or property of whites. In a poster war, Mr Barend Strydom of the Wit Wolwe declared that his organisation would take up the battle with the ANC in the event of attacks on white citizens.

276. It was in the wake of the death of CP leader Dr Andries Treurnicht that a group of retired SADF generals known as the 'Committee of Generals' held a series of meetings around the country resulting in the formation of the Eenheidskomitee 25 (EK25). This was later expanded to form the Volkseenheidskomitee (Vekom) with General Viljoen as leader, and a number of other leading ex-security force members including General 'Tienie' Groenewald (former chief of MI), General Koos Bischoff (former chief of operations of the army), General Lothar Neethling (a former deputy commissioner of police), and General Cobus Visser (a former head of CID) in leading roles. Vekom immediately began to establish regional committees in the rural areas of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

386. In a submission to the Commission, Major General Stadler and retired police officers stated that Operation Vula aimed to bring about an "insurrection by means of a People's Army ... the classical Maoist third stage of the revolution". They claimed that Vula was mainly an initiative of SACP members. 9 According to Henri van der Westhuizen, formerly of the Directorate of Covert Collections (DCC), Vula reflected the tensions between the SACP-aligned Hani camp and the Modise camp in the ANC; Vula was a product of the Hani camp, spearheaded by ANC members who were also members of the SACP.

387. While it is not possible for the Commission to ascertain whether a 'Hani faction' linked to the SACP leadership was still intent on insurrection, Operation Vula was not linked to any specific human rights violations apart from those perpetrated by members of the security forces against Vula operatives.

537. Clear evidence of security force involvement in the following issues has been confirmed:

     The provision of weapons and training to the IFP by members of the security forces, and thus by implication, involvement in the violence in the PWV and KwaZulu/Natal regions. It is notable that this continued after the exposure of government financial support to the IFP.

     The cover-up after the arrest of Mr Themba Khoza with weapons on the scene of the Sebokeng massacre and thus, by implication, involvement in the massacre itself.

     The involvement by MI operatives and structures in the destabilisation of the homelands, including the development of a plan to invade Transkei.

     A official plan by MI to abduct and/or assassinate Mr Chris Hani and Mr Bantu Holomisa in Transkei.

     The existence of SAP hit squads that continued to be engaged in killings.

     Continued efforts to conduct disinformation campaigns against the liberation movements generally and against particular individuals. Examples include Project Echoes, a South African army intelligence (GS2) project which sought to generate disinformation about MK, and a strategic communications project which targeted Ms Winnie Mandela.

     The running of high-level sources such as Mr Sifiso Nkabinde and Mr David Ntombela, who were deeply implicated in violence in the Richmond area.

Chris Hani is assassinated in April. Senior CP member, Clive Derby-Lewis, and Polish immigrant, Janusz Waluz, are later convicted. Over seventy people die across the country in violence sparked by his murder.

Malinga also allegedly participated in the attack on the memorial service for Victoria Mxenge (see below). Malinga's case was heard by the ANC's People's Tribunal in Lusaka on 7 May 1990. In addition to the killings, he was found guilty of a number of other 'offences' including 'collaborating with the enemy' to infiltrate the ANC with the intention of killing MK Chief of Staff Chris Hani and MK Commander Joe Modise.

The attempted assassination of Chris Hani

In his application for amnesty, Eben Frederick Coetzee told the Commission that, in 1980, he was given the order by senior members of the Security Branch to kill Mr Chris Hani, then MK commander in Lesotho, because of Hani's perceived growing influence in the ANC/South African Communist Party (SACP) alliance. At the time, Coetzee was a department head of the SAP Security Branch in the Orange Free State.

An attempt was made to place an explosive in Hani's car in Maseru, but the explosive went off prematurely, injuring Mr Tumelo Ernest Ramatlala (Ramotalo), who was responsible for placing it. According to former senior Security Branch member Dirk Coetzee, Ramatlala was a Lesotho national and a member of the Lesotho Youth Organisation. He was an informer for the Bloemfontein Security Branch and allegedly a close confidant of Chris Hani.

Ramatlala spent three months in hospital under police guard and was charged for the explosion. On being granted bail he fled to South Africa and was taken to Vlakplaas to prevent him from revealing information about the planned killing [AM4079/97].

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.