Address by Nelson Mandela at the funeral of Martin Chris Hani, Soweto

19 April 1993

Comrade Chairpersons,
To the family,
Our daughter-in-law, Limpho, and grandchildren Neo, Nomakwezi and Lindiwe,
Gilbert and Mary Hani, parents of Chris,
Dushe and Nkosana, Chris's older and younger brothers,
Distinguished participants at this solemn occasion,
To the tens of thousands of you, both here in the stadium, those gathered already at the graveside, and all participating in memorial services throughout the country;

we have all come together to pay our last respects to the one of the greatest revolutionaries this country has ever known.

I ask you all to rise for a moment's silence in tribute to his memory. Even as we do so, let us also remember those who have died in the last few days and hours here at FNB, at Sebokeng, Vanderbijlpark and elsewhere during these days of mourning.

Thank you.

Sabalele, in Cofimvaba district, is a place well known to me. Not for its beauty, but for its harshness. No running water. No electricity. No decent housing. Inadequate health care. Little formal education. Yet this small, virtually unknown village produced a Chris Hani, whose life shook the whole country and impacted on the world's stage.

Chris Hani's passion for justice, for addressing the problems that plague the rural poor, were rooted in his childhood in Sabalele. His roots were so deep, so true, that he never lost them.

Through three decades of exile Chris Hani remained steadfast in his commitment to free our people from bondage.

Feted in many capitals of the world, he never succumbed to the glamour and glitter that was offered him.

He was taken to our hearts, as a people, as a nation, because he lived so that we may be free.

Chris Hani touched the very heart of millions of us because he knew our pain, and eased it by giving us hope, giving us courage, giving us a way forward.

Chris Hani loved life, and lived it to the full. But he loved freedom more.

Chris Hani loved our people, our organisations, our South African nation, and for that love he was brutally murdered.

Yesterday, thousands of you filed past his coffin to pay your last respects. Like me, I am sure that upon leaving you had difficulty holding back the tears.

Chris Hani's murder was no aberration. It was consistent with the patterns of the past. Scores of assassinations remain "unsolved". Rick Turner, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, David Webster, Ruth First, and Dulcie September are but a few. Their killers remain unnamed because the criminals investigate themselves.

By killing Chris Hani the murderers made a fatal error, for he will not become just 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.

In 1991, when we spoke of a Third Force being responsible for the violence, we were ridiculed and criticised by everyone. Now both South Africa and the world recognise not only the existence of that same Third Force, but also the extent of its activities.

That is why De Klerk retired army and police generals with golden handshakes, but neither we nor the country know what activities they were dismissed for.

When Chris Hani criticised the theft of weapons from the Air Force Base, and said those weapons were not stolen, but were taken to be used in covert operations, he too was ridiculed. Guns from those same stolen weapons were used to kill him.

This secret web of hit men and covert operations is funded by our taxes. While we remain without homes, without food, without education, almost nine billion rand was spent in the last two years on these secret operations.

But we, the taxpayer, do not know what it was spent on. We only know that our people continue to die in violence on the trains, in massacres, and by assassination.

The killing must stop!

A major initiative that Chris Hani proposed shortly before his death was that peace brigades be established under the National Peace Accord.

Let us pay tribute to his memory by forming such Peace Brigades throughout the country.

Let them be part of the reconstruction of our country, ravaged by the war waged against us over 45 years of apartheid rule.

There has been a deliberate and massive propaganda offensive against Umkhonto we Sizwe, its cadres and leadership. No effort has been spared to criminalise both MK and Chris Hani. This has deliberately created a climate of acceptance when an MK cadre is assassinated, as dozens have been over the past months.

To criminalise is to outlaw, and the hunting down of an outlaw is regarded as legitimate. That is why, although millions of people have been outraged at the murder of Chris Hani, few were really surprised. Those who have deliberately created this climate that legitimates political assassinations are as much responsible for the death of Chris Hani as the man who pulled the trigger, and the conspiracy that plotted his murder.

In this regard, the Minister of Law and Order and the Chief of the Army both have a great deal to answer for.

But culpability does not stop there. The indecent haste with which Minister Kobie Coetsee pushed the Indemnity Bill through the President's Council granted a licence to kill to the men who wish to plunge this country into a racial war. Through this legislation, they were told that they could murder without fear of punishment.

We say to them, loud and clear, that we do not recognise such indemnity. We will not accept that a murder can be committed and the assassin pleads political indemnity. Justice must be carried out to the full extent of the law.

We want a police force that is there to serve our communities, to protect our lives and property, to respect us as citizens. That is our right.

We want an army that is professional, that does not regard us as the enemy.

The only way to get this is by bringing all security forces and armed formations under multiparty control with immediate effect. This should include the SADF, the South African Police, Umkhonto we Sizwe, the KwaZulu Police, the Transkei Defence Force, the Bophuthatswana police force and any other such formations.

Only then will we be able to begin the task of training, upgrading and developing a South African Army and Police Force that serves all South Africans. Only then can we being to change the culture so prevalent in the police force and army that the people are the enemy.

And nowhere has this attitude of seeing us as the enemy been more clearly demonstrated than in President De Klerk's actions since the assassination of Chris Hani.

His first response was to call a meeting of the State Security Council. His second response was to deploy 23,000 more troops, telling white South Africans that they had enough troops for them to feel secure. But why deploy troops against mourners?

They say we cannot control our forces. We are not cattle to be controlled. And we say to De Klerk: it is your forces that lost control and, completely unprovoked, shot innocent marchers in Protea.

It is you who have allowed the bully boy tactics of the AWB to go unchallenged. We, the victims of violence, have been blamed for the very acts that take our lives. Yet you treat the far right with kid gloves, allowing them to publish hit lists when it is a crime to do so. Your police do not protect marchers from gunmen who mow them down, as in Vanderbijlpark.

Black lives are cheap, and will remain so as long as apartheid continues to exist. And let there be no mistake: there have been many changes, and negotiations have started, but for the ordinary black person of this country apartheid is alive and well.

Thousands of us die from TB every year, our children still play in open sewers, and die from preventable diseases. Education is still a privilege. Our homes remain the tin shacks and overcrowded townships. And no black South African has the vote.

They talk of peace as if wanting peace is pacifism. They paint a picture of us as militant youth, or mindless radicals. They want to present the ANC as the other half of the National Party.

We want peace, but we are not pacifists. We are all militants. We are all radicals. That is the very essence of the ANC, for it is a liberation movement fighting for freedom for all our people. It is our unceasing struggles - in the prisons, in mass campaigns, through the armed struggle that has brought the regime to the negotiating table. And those negotiations are themselves a site of struggle.

It is not a question of armed struggle or negotiations. Armed struggle brought about negotiations. It is precisely because negotiations will force them to relinquish power that certain elements are resorting to the cowardly tactics of assassinations.

This government is illegitimate, unrepresentative, corrupt and unfit to govern.

We want the immediate installation of a Transitional Executive Council with one purpose: to ensure that free and fair elections are held in the shortest possible time.

This TEC must put in place multi-party control of such areas as the security forces, the budget, foreign relations, local government. An Independent Electoral Commission must be established.

We also want an Independent Media Commission. We have the right to know what is going on, to receive accurate information, and to put our views across without manipulation and distortion.

Above all, we want an agreed election date to be announced.

What does an election mean for us?

A one-person, one vote election, throughout South Africa - and that includes the TBVC states is, at this point in time and given the gains we have made, the shortest route to a real transfer of power.

Such an election will produce a government that, for the first time in our long and arduous struggle, will be a government that represents the democratic wishes of all South Africans.

For the first time in our history an elected government will be answerable to all the people. That government will face tremendous challenges.

South Africa will then, through radical opposition to apartheid, be transformed into a united, non-racial, democratic and non-sexist country.

Of the highest priority will be the issues that were closest to the heart of Chris Hani: the reconstruction of South Africa so as to ensure that apartheid is not reformed, but uprooted in its entirety .

In the interests of all our people we will build national unity, drawing on the wealth of our human resources, the courage and strength of all our people.

We want to build a nation free from hunger, disease and poverty, free from ignorance, homelessness and humiliation, a country in which there is peace, security and jobs.

These achievements will be living monuments to the heroes like Chris Hani, who died fighting for such a vision.

Speed is of the essence. We want an end to white minority rule now. We want an election date now. We want to know when we will have a government of our choice, that follows a programme that is in the interests of all the people of this country.

Forward movement can no longer be held hostage to narrow party political or even individual interests. Freedom, peace and stability can no longer be postponed because of selfish and sectarian goals.

We warn all who seek to impose endless negotiations that any further delay will discredit the negotiation process itself and place on the national agenda the need for change by other means.

We take this solemn occasion to make an earnest appeal to all political leaders and organisations in our country to recognise the urgency and gravity of the situation.

It demands of all of us that we act with real respect for human life. It demands that those who still occupy government office end their ideas of reverting to repression against our people.

It demands new initiatives to move our country forward to freedom as quickly as possible. We will be consulting leaders of civil society, religious leaders, community organisations, business, cultural and other leaders on such initiatives.

The leadership of the ANC draws its strength from you, our people. Over the death of Chris Hani you have shown your determination, your courage, your love of freedom.

We will be leaving here shortly to go to the cemetery and the Hani home, to place the mortal remains of this great son of our soil in its last resting place.

Before we go, I wish to address a few words to all of you.

Minister Kriel blusters on and says that today's proceedings are a test of our political leadership. We say to him: he has tested our patience too long. Where were the police during the four hours when gunmen rampaged through Sebokeng last night leaving over 15 people dead? Where was his political leadership exercised in decisive action against those who opened fire in Protea? In this situation, it is the government and its ministers who have been found to be sadly lacking in both leadership, vision and ability.

Chris Hani has a very special place in our hearts. But each and every one of you is precious to us. You are our people, our pride and joy, our future. We love you all. And we want all of you to reach home safely. When we leave here, let us do so with the pride and dignity of our nation. Let us not be provoked.

The struggle is far from over. You are our soldiers of peace, our army for the elections that will transform this country. Go back to your homes, your regions, and organise as never before. Together, we are invincible. That is how we will pay the greatest tribute we can to Chris Hani freedom in South Africa. Let Chris Hani live on through all of us.

To the Hani family, you have suffered a loss that no amount of tears can replace. The ANC and SACP have lost a giant of struggle. But perhaps the greatest loss is to South Africa as a whole, now and in the future, for our country has been deprived of the wisdom, courage and insight that was unique to Chris Hani.

I would also like to address a final word to Chris himself - comrade, friend and confidant.

We worked together in the National Executive Committee of the ANC. We had vigorous debates and an intense exchange of ideas. You were completely unafraid. No task was too small for you to perform. Your ready smile and warm friendship was a source of strength and companionship. You lived in my home, and I loved you like the true son you were.

In our heart, as in the heart of all our people, you are irreplaceable. We have been struck a blow that wounds so deeply that the scars will remain forever. You laid down your life so that we may know freedom. No greater sacrifice is possible.

We lay you to rest with the pledge that the day of freedom you lived and died for will dawn. We all owe you a debt that can only be repaid through the achievement of the liberation of our people, which was the passion of your life.

Fighter, revolutionary, soldier for peace, we mourn deeply for you. You will remain in our hearts forever.


Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation