South African government has announced that the killer of anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani has been released from prison after being stabbed in prison in the wake of a controversial parole announcement.
“Janusz Walus was released on parole on Wednesday 7 December,” the prison service said in a statement.
At the end of November, the highest court in the country granted early release to Janusz Walus, 69, after some 30 years behind bars. Sentenced to death and then life imprisonment, this Polish immigrant linked to the white Afrikaner far right was due to be released from prison within ten days.
“Walus was only released from the hospital today as he was undergoing treatment after being stabbed,” the prison services explained, adding that there is no doubt that the convict is “a polarizing figure” in the country.
He was stabbed on November 29 by another inmate in the Pretoria prison where he was serving his sentence.
The announcement of his release awakened painful memories in South Africa. A demonstration in Pretoria, called by the Communist Party (SACP) and the ANC (ruling party), brought together several hundred people last week.
Chris Hani, 50, a senior member of the ANC’s armed wing, was killed on April 10, 1993, at a time of delicate negotiations with the white government for the first democratic elections. His violent death exacerbated racial tensions and provoked violent riots.
Janusz Walus was arrested a few minutes after the assassination. In his car, the police discovered the murder weapon and traces of blood on his shirt. After being sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment with the advent of democracy in 1994.
He had been eligible for parole for some 20 years but all his previous applications had been rejected.
Chris Hani’s death is commemorated every year in South Africa as a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle. His family has always vehemently opposed the release of his killer.