Bond between Chris Hani and Mama Winnie was strong, says daughter

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with Mpho Motjuoadi, Chris Hani and Joachim Ribiero de Sousa in Johannesburg in 1991. Picture: Gallo Images/Media24 Archives
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with Mpho Motjuoadi, Chris Hani and Joachim Ribiero de Sousa in Johannesburg in 1991. Picture: Gallo Images/Media24 Archives

Chris Hani’s daughter gave a touching tribute to her father and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at a 25th anniversary commemoration event at the Thomas Nkobi Memorial Park in  Boksburg today.

“It has not gone unnoticed by me, that daddy dies on Easter Saturday, uMama Winnie dies on Easter Monday, uTata OR [Oliver Reginald Tambo] also died at the end of April. I think and believe that uDaddy is calling all his favourites during this time, so if I was the leaders I would begin to pray,” laughed Lindiwe Hani.

She went on to speak about the bond that the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had with her father.

“My father loved uMama Winnie, and she loved him as well. As a child, coming to South Africa from Lesotho, it was incredibly overwhelming. We didn’t know what to expect, and there was some anxiety. We didn’t know what to expect when out parents told us that we would be staying with Mama Winnie and her family in Soweto. This was not a stranger’s name. We grew up hearing about uMama Winnie, and you could hear the love and respect in my father’s voice when he spoke about her,” she said.

Hani described how, growing up, she and her siblings were shown photos of Madikizela-Mandela, and how she was always mesmerised by her beauty.

“Her name would come up when uDaddy would tell his girls that there is nothing that we couldn’t do once we put our minds together, and that we are just as strong and powerful as boys, if not more so, and she would be illustrated as that example,” Hani said.

Chris Hani, revered as one of South Africa’s greatest political figures to lead the fight against apartheid, was killed on this day 25 years ago.

Today the country is paying tribute to the man who stood up against the injustice and unleashed a legacy that would live on in the hearts of South Africans everywhere.

Hani’s untimely death almost spiralled the country into a civil war.

On April 10 1993, after returning to his house in Dawn Park, Boksburg on the East Rand, Hani was gunned down by Polish immigrant and truck driver Janusz Walus. Walus acted with the former Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis.

Hani was known to embody strong communist values, based on his studies and influences at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape during the late 1950s, where Hani was inspired by Marxism.

It was these teachings that would soon lead Hani to join the South African Communist Party in 1961.

Derby-Lewis said at the time that he was trying to protect the country from being overthrown by a communist.

Walus used Derby-Lewis’ gun, and both men were convicted and sentenced to death for their role in Hani’s murder. Their death sentences were reduced to life imprisonment in November 2000.

Today, South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande said that Walus, who was still serving his time in jail and has applied for parole, “must stay in jail”.

“At the time of his death, he was on medical parole. The convicted murderer who pulled the trigger on comrade Chris is still in prison, and we want to say, as the SACP, he must stay in jail. Not because we are evil people ... all we want is the truth. There are too many things that just never came together, in their story to the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission], that’s why the TRC did not grant them amnesty,” Nzimande said.

He said that the SACP still wants the truth, and “we will never rest until we get the whole truth”.

Last year Nzimande had called for an official inquest into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Hani.

Former president Nelson Mandela, who at the time had been released from Robben Island just a year earlier in 1992 and was the ANC president, and had not yet been officiated as the country’s first democratically elected president, called for calm and peace during a time where emotions rang strongly throughout South Africa. Mandela, who spoke at Hani’s funeral on April 19 1993 at the Soweto stadium, said that his murderers had made a “fatal error” and that he would not just be another statistic.

“The regime has announced the arrest of a leading member of the Conservative Party, Clive Derby Lewis, in connection with this murder. We insist he be brought before the courts without delay. We demand to know what he did, who he worked with, and above all we demand justice. We do not want to see a situation where those arrested for such heinous crimes simply go free wants the hue and cry dies down, as has happened in the past,” Mandela said.

Avantika Seeth
Multimedia journalist
City Press
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