Two white extremists were sentenced Friday to die for murdering black leader Chris Hani. Outside the Rand Supreme Court, hundreds of blacks shouted and sang with joy when they heard the news.
Judge Frikkie Eloff said Clive Derby-Lewis, a top official of the pro-apartheid Conservative Party, and Polish immigrant Janusz Walus deserved the severest penalty for killing Hani. South Africa, he said, could not tolerate political assassinations.Eloff convicted the two on Thursday in a non-jury trial. A third defendant, Derby-Lewis' wife, Gaye, was acquitted and was not in the coutroom for the sentencing.
South Africa has suspended executions, but judges can still issue the death penalty. A post-apartheid government is expected to decide the issue.
The ANC, which opposes the death penalty, nonetheless called for Derby-Lewis and Walus to receive the death sentence.
So did prosecutor Klaus Von Lieres, who told the court today that the "destruction of the accused" was the only response to a crime he described as cold-blooded and shocking.
South Africa cannot afford the "elimination or assassination" of its politicians, he said, because that would lead to anarchy and war.
Eloff said the state must discourage others from following the lead of Walus and Derby-Lewis.
While the African National Congress welcomed the convictions, it blasted as "white man's justice" the acquittal of Derby-Lewis' wife, Gaye.