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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Excerpt from Hani: A Life Too Short by Janet Smith and Beauregard Tromp

HaniThere has been much speculation about the heights that struggle hero Chris Hani might have reached had he not been assassinated in the prime of his life. Janet Smith and Beauregard Tromp have co-authored a book about the life and times of this extraordinary human being, Hani: A Life Too Short.

Here is an excerpt from the book – and see below for a book preview:

He was a revolutionary, a soldier’s soldier. Anointed by OR Tambo as a future leader of South Africa, Chris Hani’s legend is as powerful as ever. This is an extract from the first biography of the ANC and SACP hero in which Hani’s bravery in war is recaptured.


The MK-ZIPRA plan involved setting up three crossing points along the Zambezi in order to stretch the enemy forces. The first crossing, which involved Hani’s group, would take place near Livingstone, another near Lake Kariba and a third near Feira. As the men prepared to cross, ANC NEC member Ruth Mompati went through the group’s luggage, ensuring there was nothing to incriminate them, such as a Soviet-made watch or shirt. Nevertheless, there was a problem.

By the time the almost 100-strong contingent was loaded onto trucks under cover of darkness for the 25-kilometre journey to the crossing point, trucks had ferried their equipment to the same point, so it seemed as if preparations had been more than adequate.

But once they arrived, it became clear to Hani that there was insufficient weaponry. Marching at the head of the Luthuli Detachment with Tambo and fellow commander Mjojo Mxwaku, Hani told Tambo that this was a serious enough issue to stall the entire campaign. Mjojo backed up Hani’s assertion.

Book details


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