About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

The Death of Chris Hani: An African Misadventure

By Arthur Kemp


It took nearly a year for the right wing to overcome the huge physical and psychological defeat inflicted on them by the March 1992 referendum, and a period of relative inactivity lasted for just under a year after the polling.

However, a dramatic event which took place on Easter Saturday 1993 was to jolt the entire right wing back into activity and once again placed them at the top of the political agenda. This event was the assassination of Chris Hani, South African Communist Party secretary general and former commander of the ANC's armed wing, outside his Boksburg home on 10 April 1993. 

Hani, who was without any doubt the most popular Black politician in South Africa after ANC president Nelson Mandela himself, was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Hakea crescent, Dawn Park, Boksburg, at 10.20am. 

Hani had just returned from a local corner store to buy a newspaper and had just got out of his car when a red Ford Laser driven by a White male pulled up behind him in the driveway. Only calling out his name "Mr. Hani" -- at which Hani turned round -- the White man stepped out from his car, pulled out a 9mm pistol and shot Hani once in the body. The assassin then stepped forward very close to Hani and shot him a further three times in the head. He then calmly got back into his car, reversed out of the driveway and sped off in the direction of the Boksburg city center.

However, a neighbor (Hani lived in a racially mixed residential area), an Afrikaner woman by the name of Retha Harmse, just happened to pull out of her driveway at the instant that the shots were fired, and managed to note down what she thought was the assassin's car registration number. She ran back into her house and telephoned the police, giving them the registration number.

Although the number she had noted down (PBX 137T) was in fact not the number that was on the assassin's car (PBX 131T), it was close enough to provide the vital clue which enabled the police to arrest the assassin ten minutes later on the main road passing the Boksburg City hall. Alert policemen on patrol spotted the car moving through the traffic and pulled it over. 

Inside they found Janus Jacub Waluz, a Polish immigrant to South Africa. Waluz was a signed up member of the AWB. Also in the car they found a pistol and a silencer, stick on numbers (later shown to be designed to be used as temporary false number plates. It was later established by the police that Waluz had used one of the stick on numbers -- a '7' -- on the last letter of his number plate, changing it from PBX 131T to PBX 137T during the actual assassination.)

Waluz was taken into detention but initially denied all knowledge of the assassination, nor of how the weapon and other items came to be in his car. He then however made a verbal confession of his actions to a policeman whom he thought was a right winger. In this verbal confession he told the police that although he had committed the act by himself, another prominent right winger, Clive Derby-Lewis, had helped him with providing the weapon. The policeman he told this to was however no right winger, and promptly reported Waluz's conversation to the investigating officer in the case.

Forensic tests were immediately carried out and it was established that the fatal bullets had indeed been fired from the gun found in his possession. Cordite was also found on a pair of gloves found in Waluz's car, indicating that he had just fired some shots, and blood, the group type of which matched that of Hani's was found in his clothes.

Waluz's residence -- an apartment in Pretoria -- was then searched, and amongst his papers was found a computer print out list of names, which had been numbered by hand in an apparent order of priority -- with Hani being listed as number 3. 

Also on the list were the names and addresses of Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo (chairman of the South African Communist Party), Judge Richard Goldstone (who headed an independent commission of inquiry into violence in South Africa and who was seen by right wingers to be biased in favor of the left wing, and a number of liberal journalists working on Afrikaans daily and weekly newspapers. 

It was quickly established that the firearm which had been used to shoot Hani -- and which was found in Waluz's possession - was one of the guns which had been stolen from the South African Air Force armory in 1990 during the "Piet Rudolph" heist. 

The news that it was an air force gun caused an unknown informant within right wing circles in Cape Town to volunteer the information to the police that he knew that a certain right winger in Cape Town, Keith Darrol, had handled such a gun for Conservative Party President's Councilor Clive Derby-Lewis and had also had a silencer fitted to this gun.

Based on this information and what Waluz had said, the police, after a six day investigation, managed to link the gun, the silencer and the list to Clive Derby-Lewis, then still living in the West Rand town of Krugersdorp. Derby-Lewis was arrested on the evening of the 17 April 1993. The police took with them both his computer and that of his wife, Gaye Derby-Lewis, as well as a number of personal documents and papers. 

Although Clive Derby-Lewis was advised by his legal representative not to make any statements, he did make an oral statement to a Warrant Officer Beetge, in which he named four people -- he named Arthur Kemp (the author of this book) as the person who had drawn up the list which had been found in Waluz's possession; he named Faan Venter and Lionel Du Randt (two right wingers from the West Rand) who had provided the firearm, and Keith Darrol from the Western Cape who had provided the silencer.

Clive Derby-Lewis stressed to Warrant Officer Beetge that none of these people he had named knew anything about the plan to assassinate Hani or anybody else. Nonetheless, all four were detained by police for questioning along with two more people - Gaye Derby-Lewis and Edwin Clarke, a computer engineer friend of the Derby-Lewis' -- early in the morning of 21 April 1993. 

After a police announcement that they were looking for him, and a short period on the run, Darrol turned himself over to the police a week later after police detained his pregnant wife until he handed himself over.

Gaye Derby-Lewis was arrested on the basis of her diary and a list of names (without addresses) which was found on her computer. 

The author of this book confirmed to the police that Gaye Derby-Lewis had indeed approached him to ask if he could help with some names and addresses in January 1993. She had, the author said, faxed through to his then place of work, the Citizen daily newspaper, a list containing 19 names, including that of Hani.

The author of this book had only known nine of the subject's addresses, and testified that although he had not asked Gaye Derby-Lewis at that stage what she wanted the addresses for, but that, on the basis of previous conversations he had had with her, he understood that it was to used merely for research purposes, as she was also a journalist by profession. 

The author of this book also confirmed that he had been told by the Derby-Lewis on 12 April that the list which had been found in Waluz's possession was the one which he had earlier in the year given them. After two days in detention, the police released the author of this book unconditionally, advising him only to be prepared to testify in the resultant trial. 

The police also soon realized that Edwin Clarke also had nothing to do with the whole affair, and released him within hours of his original detention. After being told to do so by Clive Derby-Lewis at a special visit arranged by the police while both men were in detention, Venter confirmed that he had given the gun to Derby-Lewis (through Du Randt). Venter also told the police that he had originally been given the gun by Gene Taylor -- one of the men who had helped Piet Rudolph to raid the air force armory in April 1990. 

Du Randt was also released the same day he was arrested, while Venter was released the next day along with the author of this book. Keith Darrol confirmed to the police that he had had the silencer fitted to the weapon after having been given it by Clive Derby-Lewis, and that he had returned it after having the silencer fitted by a gunsmith friend of his, Gavin Smith from Cape Town. Darrol was, along with the already named people, released, and ordered to appear in court to testify as to what their role had been. 

Only Waluz, Gaye and Clive Derby-Lewis remained in detention, and they were soon charged with four offences - murder, conspiracy to commit murder, the illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. Gaye Derby-Lewis was, after nearly three months in detention, granted bail of R30 000 and warned to appear at the trial, which, after an initial postponement, was set down finally for 4 October 1993 in the Rand Supreme Court. Neither Clive Derby-Lewis or Waluz applied for bail. 

The assassination of Chris Hani, along with the fact that the alleged assassin himself was an AWB member, nearly plunged the country into a race war. Gun sales shot up as nervous Whites panicked and bought up as many firearms as they could, and on the day of Hani's funeral nearly every major city center in South Africa was ransacked by enraged mobs.

The all night vigil held for Hani at the First National Bank stadium outside Soweto ended in carnage with mobs of Black youths setting fire to nearby houses and attacking passing cars. At least two people died in these disturbances, which necessitated riot police intervention. one of the white men burnt to death in one of the houses so burnt down turned out to be a member of the AWB's orchestra. 

Hani was buried at the South Park cemetery on the East Rand, not too far from his Boksburg home. The AWB activated its East Rand commando unit on the day of the burial, and heavily armed AWB men could be seen standing guard over the White residential properties lining the route. Police were forced to keep the AWB contingent apart from the mourners, who commandeered buses, taxis and any vehicles they could find in their attempts to travel from the stadium to the burial site. 

Terre' Blanche took advantage of the resultant turmoil in the country and more than once during his public meetings at that time told his audiences that if "Hani had not been shot, then if there was a state of war, I would have done it myself!"

These remarks, captured on film at a meeting in Port Elizabeth, almost resulted in an incitement charge being leveled against the AWB leader after the clip was shown on national television. 

The trial finally started on its due date, and the state's case against Gaye Derby-Lewis soon proved to be fairly hopeless. No evidence of any kind was led linking her to the murder or the illegal possession of firearm or ammunition charges, while the only evidence linking her to the conspiracy charge was the so called "hit list" which had been found in Waluz's apartment. 

However, both the author of this book and Gaye Derby-Lewis denied in court that this list had been drawn up as a hit list, and Waluz, through his legal representative, told the court that he had obtained the list by accident from the Derby-Lewis house after he had removed a newspaper from their filing room which had contained (unbeknown to himself or the Derby-Lewis') the list within its pages.

Gaye herself testified that after she had obtained the list from the author of this book, she had put it down in her filing room and had forgotten about it until she had read in the paper that a list had been found in Waluz's flat after the assassination. She said that she had then started looking for her list, and was worried when she did not find it.

As a result of this being the only evidence against her, and coupled with her defense, the court found her not guilty on all the charges and ordered her immediate release, which created another storm as ANC leaders had demanded that she be found guilty. 

(It later transpired that what in fact had happened was that Clive Derby-Lewis had taken the list from his wife's files and had given it to Waluz - but this fact was only to emerge during the 1998 amnesty application by the two men).

Clive Derby-Lewis and Waluz were acquitted on the conspiracy charges, with the court finding that there was not enough evidence to convict them on that charge, but did however find them guilty on the murder and illegal possession of firearm and ammunition charges. The two men were sentenced to death on Friday 16 October 1993 - which in reality means life imprisonment as there has been a moratorium on executions in South Africa since 1990. This moratorium was made permanent in 1995. Clive Derby-Lewis immediately instituted an appeal against his conviction, but this appeal was rejected by the Appeal Court.

Both Waluz and Derby-Lewis applied for amnesty in 1996 in terms of a new amnesty law created with the introduction of the new constitution in April 1994. The amnesty application was finally heard during the second part of 1997, concluding in February 1998. Both men fully confessed their role in the assassination. 

Their applications for amnesty were however refused in April 1999. An appeal against the amnesty decision was turned down in 2000.

Arthur Kemp is a pro-white South African who has been personally involved in the affairs he describes.  The above excerpt is from Chapter 19 of his book, Victory or Violence, the Story of the AWB of South Africa.  The entire text of his book is available at http://www.stormfront.org/whitehistory/awb. Publication of Mr. Kemp's account is neither an endorsement of his political philosophy or his book's factual claims.  This article is presented in the interest of furthering a wider understanding of complex events which deserve to be examined from multiple perspectives. 

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