What Daddy’s killers said

2017-03-19 06:02
Books - Being Chris Hani's Daughter

Books - Being Chris Hani's Daughter

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In a tell-all book, the daughter of slain hero Chris Hani reveals the awful aftermath of his murder and her empathy for Janusz Walus.

In an explosive autobiography to be launched this week, Lindiwe Hani has broken her silence on meeting her father’s killers.

In her book, Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, she reveals how Clive Derby-Lewis, who masterminded the murder of her struggle hero father in 1993, still believed eight months before his death that his Conservative Party’s confederal system – an extension of apartheid which they wanted to force on the country – would have worked.

“We were trying to give everybody equal representation,” he told her.

“We believed that after everything the Afrikaners had done for the country, they were entitled to their share of it.”

Hani, who felt nauseous before the meeting, was determined not to drink any of the tea or eat any of the sandwiches and quiche that had been prepared by Derby-Lewis’ wife, Gaye.

She reveals that her mother, former ANC MP Limpho Hani, was furious that she had decided to meet her father’s murderers, and so she was forced to plan it in secret.

Limpho was also less than thrilled that her youngest daughter was writing a tell-all memoir documenting, in dramatic detail, her life-and-death battle with drugs and alcohol that began at the age of 14, when she was in boarding school.

Lindiwe details how she had an abortion at the age of 18, how the father of her baby was killed in a car accident – the second major loss in her life that sent her even further down the road of drugs and booze – and how her elder sister Khwezi, who died from what an autopsy report labelled an “asthma attack”, was also addicted to cocaine.

She writes frankly about how her own daughter suffered throughout her addiction. She also reveals that mum Limpho has been estranged from her eldest daughter, Momo, for 10 years.

Conflicted

Of her meeting with the Derby-Lewises at their Pretoria townhouse, Lindiwe writes that she was told by an amused Gaye how she had found the address of the Hani family home, in Dawn Park in Boksburg, “in the phone book” while working on a story for her right wing newspaper about “Gucci socialists”, which she believed the Hanis to be.

After Lindiwe reminded Clive that her sister, Khwezi, was there the day their father was murdered and dodged a bullet herself, he became uncomfortable.

“One regrets these things. As you know, I told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission amnesty hearing, and every time I applied for parole, that I had been trying to meet with your mother for years to personally express my regrets. But that never happened,” he said.

“I do not feel any degree of satisfaction around what happened. But the circumstances in the country were such that things developed ... I don’t know if it’s any consolation, but your father must have been quite a man because of the support he had from the people.

“And the fact that he was the target is some kind of indication of the esteem [in which] he was held by his people. Lindi, I am really sorry we have had to meet under these circumstances.”

Gaye, who continued to insist during the meeting that she had nothing to do with the plan to kill Hani, was self-pitying. “We used to have money. I travelled the world. We had furniture, a house, a car. We weren’t rich, but we were comfortable. We lost 23 years of our life.”

Lindiwe writes about how conflicted she was after the meeting, how she felt guilty for believing what Clive told her – that there was no grand conspiracy involving other ANC members behind her father’s murder.

“Eight months after our visit, I hear that Clive Derby-Lewis has succumbed to cancer. I feel sad for his children, who have lost a father,” she writes.

An unlikely empathy

But it was Janusz Walus, the man who pulled the trigger, with whom Lindiwe connected and felt an unlikely empathy. They met twice over lunch at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II Prison.

“He tells us how, back in Poland, he had difficulty learning as a child, blaming it on his own stupidity. For a moment my heart goes out to the young Walus, who grew up believing he was lesser than; I know the feeling,” she writes.

Towards the end of their first meeting, he told her: “First of all, I want to thank you, Lindiwe. I cannot tell you how much I have appreciated meeting you; you are a very brave, very courageous woman. If it means anything to you, Lindiwe, I am very, very sorry for what I did to you and your family ... I am very, very sorry.”

Lindiwe writes: “He seems overcome with emotion. I feel the lump in my throat too.”

During their second meeting, the two joked and she remarked on Walus’ keen sense of humour. He also told her he had spoken to his own daughter about their first meeting.

“She was very happy to hear I had met you. She knew it was good meeting, not easy – as I am sure it wasn’t for you an easy thing to meet me ... But it was good.

“I was – I am – really very appreciative, Lindiwe.”

“My heart aches a bit deeper,” she writes, adding that Walus told her he left their first meeting “happy”.

“In all honesty, I feel a strange little glow inside. I know how weird that is, feeling joy because my father’s killer felt a tinge of happiness after meeting me,” she writes.

The book lays bare the exorbitant personal cost Limpho Hani and her family bore for freedom, and well explains her refusal to meet with her husband’s killers and her continued fight against granting Walus parole.

Above all, Limpho has striven to uphold the Hani family name – going so far as to insist Lindiwe book herself into rehab under an assumed name.

“Sometimes it feels like her identity as Chris Hani’s widow precedes the needs of her children. For as long as I can remember, it feels as though her life’s purpose has been to preserve my father’s legacy,” Lindiwe writes.

“For 23 years, I’ve been watching her live in the shroud of her loss; Limpho, the grieving wife of Chris Hani, has been her world, her mission, her identity.”

Being Chris Hani’s Daughter will be available in bookstores from March 27

Read more on:    chris hani

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