Vandalism of Hani's gravestone 'cowardly'
Johannesburg - Vandalising the grave of struggle icon Chris Hani was a cowardly act, trade union Nehawu said on Wednesday.
"We condemn this abominable act of thuggery and cowardice and call on the law enforcement agencies to investigate this incident and put the perpetrators behind bars," National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a statement.
He said the freedoms enjoyed by the vandals were brought about by people like Hani, who had fought against inequality and oppression.
The SA Communist Party, of which Hani was once general secretary, said it was "angered and deeply offended" by the desecration.
"What is more disturbing is that this seems to be a calculated act to target former SACP leaders, as we discovered at the beginning of last year that the tombstone of the late comrade Joe Slovo was vandalised as well," spokesperson Malesela Maleka said in a statement.
Earlier, the Ekurhuleni municipality announced that damage estimated at R23 000 had been done to Hani's grave stone.
"[Municipal] employees reported that Hani's tombstone had been defaced, and a dent that looks like a gunshot on the top right hand corner has been engraved on it," mayor Mondli Gungubele said in a statement.
The desecration was "senseless" and it was a "sad coincidence" that it occurred on the eve of Hani's commemoration month in April.
A team of police investigators would look into the matter, he said.
"Actually, I have instructed our investigation team to leave no stone unturned in investigating this incident so that the perpetrators are put behind bars, where they belong."
The municipality set aside R23 000 to fix the gravestone. It was expected to be back in place within three weeks, before the commemoration began.
"Chris Hani was a peace-loving politician, a selfless leader who put the interests of all South Africans ahead of his own and those of his family... It therefore defeats all logic that someone would be so intent on showing such disrespect to such a great leader," Gungubele said.
Pamla said it would take "more than a cowardly act to erase the legacy of comrade Chris Hani from the history of South Africa, because his legacy is in the hearts of all progressive South Africans".
Maleka echoed these sentiments: "No amount of derision will erase from our collective memory the gallant role played by comrade Chris Hani and what he represents".