Now right-wing monsters like Waluś are treated as heroes
The case of Chris Hani's killer mirrors the insidious re-emergence of right-wing nationalism around the world. It's very dangerous
The hate-filled, violence-loving far-right-wingers are coming. Well, actually, they are here. Perhaps they never went away.
Over the past few years far-right nationalism and racism have been on the resurgence throughout Europe. From Italy to Germany to Sweden through to the Ukraine, formations which just 25 years ago were reviled as not worthy of even being listened to are now kingmakers in coalition governments and, in some instances, are on the verge of being elected to the highest offices in their countries.
In the US the president has declared himself a “nationalist”, and right-wing nationalists close to him, such as his former adviser Steve Bannon, are so emboldened that they go on speaking tours to Europe and are hired by far-right leaders such as Hungary’s repressive Viktor Orban.
Twenty-five years ago right-wingers and racists across the globe were a fringe. When two of their own, the detestable Clive Derby-Lewis and the dissembling Janusz Waluś, murdered SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani in a desperate attempt to trigger a race war in our country they were shunned throughout the globe except for small pockets of right-wing diehards.
Now they are lauded as heroes in Walus’s native Poland. In fact, reported London’s The Observer newspaper last week, “Waluś has become a cult figure among right-wing Polish football fans, in particular, who frequently display banners at matches with his portrait and slogans such as ‘Free Janusz Waluś’ and ‘Stay Strong Brother’.”
It reported further that “when football fans gathered at the Jasna Góra monastery in southwestern Poland, the country’s holiest shrine, for a ‘patriotic pilgrimage’ in January last year, a priest led the congregation in prayer for Waluś’s release. The National Radical Camp, the successor to a pre-Second World War Polish fascist movement, recently held an indoor football tournament in his honour.”
Some of our younger readers may not know who Chris Hani was. Every South African should learn about Hani. A militant, courageous ANC leader, he stood up for ordinary members in the party’s camps in exile. When he returned home in 1990 he remained militant and revolutionary, yet embraced peace. He was spoken of by many as the man most likely to succeed Mandela as ANC leader.
On 10 April 1993 Waluś – in cahoots with Derby-Lewis, a Conservative Party MP, and perhaps others – walked up to Hani at his Boksburg home and shot him four times, killing him instantly in front of his 14-year-old daughter, Nomakhwezi.
At their trial in 1993 Waluś and Derby-Lewis lied to police about the circumstances surrounding the murder of Hani. They lied to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997. They have lied and changed their stories numerous times in parole applications.
After Derby-Lewis was paroled and died in 2016, Waluś has continued to try for freedom. He is now on the verge of success. This lying monster may now walk free in the next few months due to technicalities in his parole application.
How did he succeed? The Guardian reported that several Polish MPs have argued that he is a political prisoner.
“Waluś is sometimes described as the ‘last Cursed Soldier’, a reference to Polish resistance fighters who were tortured and executed by the communist authorities in the Stalinist era – an implication that Hani’s murder constituted a continuation of the same struggle.
“Waluś’s sympathisers provide more than just moral support, collecting money that goes towards paying his legal fees,” it said.
The massive swing to the far right in Europe and elsewhere has consequences everywhere. Here in SA we see the likes of Waluś and others receive monetary support to continue their hate and refusal to recognise others’ humanity.
The man deserves no forgiveness, for he has demonstrated no remorse for his deeds. Most importantly, though, Waluś and his comrades have not told the whole truth about the events of April 10 1993. South Africans should read Evelyn Groenink’s book, Incorruptible, to begin to answer some of the questions that Waluś has evaded.
The impact of rising right-wing nationalism and racism is bigger and more insidious, though. It diminishes the world we have built for our children. It encourages hate and division and unilateralism across the globe. It fails to recognise that the great advances of humanity over the past 60 years were because a great number of leaders turned their backs on narrow nationalism and racism and instead encouraged multilateralism and open borders.
The far right is here, and it is turning us backwards. It is making the world a very dangerous place indeed.