Janusz Walus: Why far-right Polish football fans idolise a murderer in South Africa


By Dickens Olewe
BBC News

picture copyrightFreedom for Janusz Walu fb web page

picture captionBanners supporting Walus are a widespread characteristic in Polish football stadiums

Huge banners bearing the portrait of Janusz Walus can typically be seen draped round football stadiums in Poland calling for the liberty of a man serving a life sentence in South Africa for the 1993 homicide of distinguished anti-apartheid chief Chris Hani.

Many feared that Hani’s killing might provoke a racial battle, coming at a essential level in talks for the white minority handy over energy, which ultimately occurred when Nelson Mandela turned president the next yr after the nation’s first all-race elections.

It is unclear how Walus turned a image for younger Polish nationalists and fascists however about 10 years in the past, he began receiving letters from supporters in Poland, journalist Cezary Lazarewicz, who interviewed Walus for his e-book, instructed the BBC.

“They wrote to him that they admired him as a result of he tried to cease communism in South Africa, that he’s the nice hope of the white race,” he stated.

In footage and movies posted on-line among the football fans in the stands are carrying scarves with the hashtag #StayStrongBrother printed on them.

It’s impressed by a music devoted to him which incorporates the lyrics: “A couple of males might ever take the step you probably did, to enter the trail of glory and victory”.

“The fans are usually not calling on Walus’ launch on humanitarian grounds, however they’re glorifying what he did and the ideology,” Dr Rafal Pankowski, from Never Again affiliation, an anti-racist group, instructed the BBC.

The music, which is sung in English, is “a good instance of the internationalisation of up to date white nationalism,” he provides.

picture copyrightAFP
  • Leader of the South African Communist Party
  • Chief of workers of uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), allied to the SACP
  • Launched assaults in opposition to apartheid authorities
  • Seen as a potential successor to Nelson Mandela
  • Assassinated on 10 April 1993

Walus, an immigrant from Poland who had acquired South African citizenship, and his co-defendant Clive Derby-Lewis, had been sentenced to loss of life shortly after Hani’s killing, however the sentence was commuted to life sentence after South Africa abolished the loss of life penalty.

They each appealed for amnesty in the course of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997, with Walus saying that he was pushed by political, anti-communist motives to kill Hani, who was then the secretary-general of the South African Communist Party (SACP), and likewise a main determine in the armed wing of the African National Congress. The two events had been shut allies in the struggle in opposition to apartheid.

Their attraction was rejected.

Derby-Lewis, who supplied the gun used to kill Hani, died in 2016, a yr after he was granted parole for well being causes.

Walus, who’s serving his life sentence at a most safety jail in Pretoria, continues to search out fame on-line.

Even extra shockingly, the vary of merchandise supporting him and celebrating him as a “political prisoner” has been offered on a South African-owned on-line market web site.

Removal not sufficient

The BBC confirmed that scarves, a T-shirt, and a sticker bearing the identify and picture of Janusz Walus had been put up on the market on OLX’s Polish web site. These gadgets have since been eliminated.

picture copyrightOLX
picture captionScarves from a number of football golf equipment had been amongst these faraway from OLX

OLX is owned by technology-investment firm Prosus, a subsidiarity of South African-based international tech large Naspers.

The Never Again affiliation reported the sale of the Walus gadgets and different “racist” gadgets to OLX.

“Promoting fascism or racial hatred is prohibited by the Polish regulation however the implementation of the regulation is notoriously weak,” Dr Pankowski stated.

picture copyrightOLX

picture captionThis T-shirt was put up on the market on the OLX platform

OLX Poland’s rules additionally prohibit promoting gadgets containing “content material inciting hatred based mostly on nationwide, ethnic, racial, spiritual variations or as a result of non-denominational standing”.

In a assertion to the BBC, Naspers stated that “right-wing components in Poland have violated the phrases of use of the OLX Poland platform. Although they solely managed to take action to a very restricted extent, any content material that incites violence, racism, or discrimination is abhorrent and opposite to the values and beliefs of our organisation”.

“Our methods use expertise mechanically to determine and take away listings that violate OLX’s insurance policies,” spokesperson Shamiela Letsoalo stated.

The Walus gadgets weren’t listed underneath his identify and so the system missed them, the assertion stated, including that they had been “swiftly eliminated” after the workforce was notified.

But this is not sufficient for SACP spokesman Alex Mashilo, who instructed the BBC that Naspers had “to take motion, greater than what they stated out of comfort”.

He added that the social gathering would “contemplate this matter additional and resolve the following steps to undertake”.

‘Unrepentant’

One rationalization for the rise in visibility of Walus’ trigger is a sequence of courtroom and authorities selections which led to the quashing of a 2016 resolution to launch him on parole.

Hani’s household and the SACP had opposed the transfer even after South African authorities stripped Walus of his citizenship in 2017, clearing the way in which for him to be deported to Poland if he was free of jail.

In March, the justice ministry lastly dominated out his launch.

Walus is “unrepentant aside from his pretences to be seen to be complying with parole eligibility,” Mr Mashilo stated.

“The uncorrectable murderer who virtually plunged South Africa into a civil battle with far-reaching implications should not be launched on parole. As issues stand, there was no full disclosure of the reality and all of the circumstances surrounding Hani’s assassination,” Mr Mashilo added.

He stated questions remained concerning the gun used to kill Hani.

“The homicide weapon that the person pulled the set off of was taken from navy armoury. Who took it, whose arms did it undergo… to [get to] its vacation spot, Walus, and his assassination of Hani?” he requested.

picture copyrightAFP
picture captionSupporters of the ruling ANC social gathering have additionally been against releasing Walus on parole

The final time most South Africans noticed Walus was in the course of the TRC periods, answering questions on Hani’s homicide.

At some level in the course of the hearings he locked his head in a barely titled place and shot a clean however searing stare throughout the room – it is a seem like this which will be seen on show in scarves and banners in Polish football stadiums.

Last yr an audio message from Walus was uploaded to YouTube and Facebook, in which he thanked his fans for elevating authorized charges and shopping for sports activities gear.

picture copyrightAFP
picture captionWalus instructed Polish journalist Lazarewicz he believes black folks and white folks ought to stay sepatately

When Lazarewicz visited Walus two years in the past for an interview, he discovered a man who, 25 years after his incarceration, was unrelenting in his convictions.

“Four years in the past Walus met in jail with Hani’s daughter – Lindiwe. He instructed her [that] when he misplaced his father [in 1997] then he understood that Chris Hani was not solely a communist, however he was additionally a father and husband,” Lazarewicz stated.

“Walus instructed me that he was very sorry for killing Lindiwe’s father. But he by no means regretted [killing a] communist chief. He instructed me, in 1993, there was a battle in South Africa and he felt like a soldier… he nonetheless believes in the system of racial segregation and that whites and blacks ought to stay aside,” he added.

This might clarify why Walus has turn out to be an icon of white supremacist teams.

So whilst his supporters name for his freedom in football video games in Poland, it is their shared allegiance to a racist ideology that may block any likelihood of parole and confine him to prion for the remainder of his life.

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