ACTION members attended the 20th anniversary commemorations of the murder of Chris Hani on 10th April 1993. The assassination of Comrade Hanna was a turning point in the dialogue process that was underway in South Africa during that time. Riots followed the announcement of his death, and for a while it looked as though the entire country would be engulfed in violence. For the first time since his release, Nelson Mandela addressed the people of South Africa on national television and made a heart rending call for calm and discipline:
“Tonight I am reaching out to every single South African, black and white, from the very depths of my being. A white man, full of prejudice and hate, came to our country and committed a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster. A white woman, of Afrikaner origin, risked her life so that we may know, and bring to justice, this assassin. The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world. … Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for – the freedom of all of us.”
While the commemoration focused primarily on providing the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the African National Congress with a platform to talk about the upcoming elections on the 7th of May, it was also a poignant moment to remember how far our country has come since the uncertainty and turbulence of the early 1990’s.
The leadership provided by Nelson Mandela at the time, filling the vacuum of uncertainty that was created by the assassination, was a major landmark of his presidential legacy that would leave a profound impact on South African and global politics.