President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt) ruling this week ordering the release of Chris Hani’s killer on parole as “very disappointing” and unfortunate.
Ramaphosa says he can only imagine the “heavy pain and the burden” that the Hani family is going through, following the apex court’s unanimous judgment on Monday for Janusz Waluś to be freed from jail after almost 30 years behind bars.
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“[The judgment] it is disappointing I must say. It’s very disappointing because Chris Hani was an iconic figure in our struggle and, in fact, if you look at it more carefully, our democracy in the end… was pivoted on the tragedy that our country went through when Chris Hani was killed,” Ramaphosa said.
The president made the remarks on Thursday, in London, during a media briefing with journalists as he wrapped up his two-day state visit to the UK at the invitation of King Charles III.
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Waluś, a Polish immigrant, was serving a life sentence at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria for killing Hani outside his Boksburg home on 10 April 1993.
The decision by the ConCourt to release Waluś on parole has elicited mixed reactions from South Africans, with Hani’s widow, Limpho, describing the ruling as “diabolical”.
Ramaphosa said the anti-apartheid icon’s murder was “part of what spawned the democracy” South Africans enjoy today.
“I haven’t looked at the judgment closely myself [and] I would like to do so and see the reasoning,” he said.
“One cannot but feel the pain that the Hani family and his widow, Limpho Hani, are going through.”
ANC national elective conference
Ramaphosa was also asked about his bid for re-election for a second term as the African National Congress’ (ANC) president.
He confirmed that he informed the ANC’s electoral committee that he accepted the nomination to serve as the governing party’s leader for another five years.
The ANC is due to hold its 55th national elective conference in mid-December at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec. Ramaphosa is in a pole position for re-election in terms of branch nominations as he faces a challenge for the ANC’s presidency from his former Cabinet minister, Zweli Mkhize.
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Ramaphosa said he believes that he deserves to continue in his role as the ANC and country’s president because his administration had introduced reforms to build state capacity after years of state capture and large-scale corruption under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
“I think what we have been doing for the past few years is to build a foundation to rebuild our country. When we came in, a lot of things were damaged. Things were not working as well as they should.
“A number of our institutions were captured as evidenced in the Zondo Commission and a number of reforms had to be embarked upon.”
Challenges during Ramaphosa’s first term
While Ramaphosa said his administration had to deal with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the deadly July unrest, and natural disasters in KwaZulu-Natal – he said he believes that he had done well as president.
“All these [things] interrupted the processes we had wanted to embark upon to reposition South Africa.
“But I do believe a great deal of work has been done of a preparatory nature [and] consolidating the foundation and preparing us for exciting opportunities that are going to be on offer, which we are willing to take up,” he said.
The president added that the reforms to state institutions, the criminal justice system as well as the economy were beginning to be acknowledged by investors and the wider international community.
“The reforms that we have embarked upon are recognised and appreciated by a number of key role players, particularly those who invest both internally and externally [in South Africa].
“They recognise that we are on a path to introduce reforms in our economy. We are addressing issues to do with corruption and criminality. All that work is positive work that is consolidating a very good foundation for South Africa to reposition.”
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