The grave of anti-apartheid hero Chris Hani has been vandalized, days after a South African court ordered the far-right gunman who killed him to be released on parole, city officials said on Tuesday.

The city of Ekurhuleni, where the tomb and memorial site of the late Communist Party leader are located, said the authorities had opened an investigation.

The monument to Hani was unveiled in 2015 in the cemetery where he is buried in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.

Zweli Dlamini Ekurhuleni spokesman “said the monument was vandalized on Saturday night. One of the pillars is badly damaged, one side just fell off. And the electric lighting system was stolen.”

The monument comprises four marble columns symbolizing the pillars of the struggle against white rule led by the African National Congress (ANC), the party of Nelson Mandela.

Hani, a hugely popular figure and fierce opponent of the apartheid regime, was shot dead in the driveway of his home in 1993 while picking up the morning newspaper. Only a year before South Africa’s first multi-racial election.

The shooting occurred just as negotiations to end apartheid were entering their final phase, stoking tensions that some feared would erupt into civil war.

Last week, South Africa’s top court controversially ordered the release on parole of Janusz Walus, the Polish immigrant who shot Hani dead.

He had been sentenced to death following his conviction in 1993, but it was commuted to life after

South Africa abolished the death penalty.

Walus, 69, has served nearly three decades of a life sentence for the murder.

The decision, which Hani’s widow described as “diabolical”, has led to protests by the ruling ANC, and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

They said it came in the context of a judgment that “pleased unrepentant apartheid perpetrators.”

On Monday, the home affairs announced Walus would have to serve his parole in South Africa, saying he should not be allowed to return home to Poland given the “heinous crime committed.”

The ANC and Hani’s family had vigorously campaigned against Walus’s release, but the court said that he had apologized to Hani’s family “more than once” and it was unlawful to continue denying him parole.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) and its allies described the incident as a “provocative attack”.


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Piers Potter


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