Derby-Lewis might lose leg

2010-09-21 14:39

Convicted killer Clive Derby-Lewis might have to have his lower right leg amputated because of gangrene, his lawyer said.

Derby-Lewis was in surgery today to have all the dead tissue removed in an attempt to save his leg, Marius Coertze said.

The area to be removed formed a large section of the fleshy part of his leg.

“The lost tissue will probably never be replaced,” he said.

“If the leg doesn’t respond to treatment in the next couple of days, they’ll have to amputate the leg.”

Coertze said Derby-Lewis had injured himself on a piece of metal jutting out from a loose iron bed-base standing in one of the corridors of the prison.

“It didn’t seem serious at the time because it wasn’t an open wound, just a bruise,” he said.

However, a few days later the injury worsened and started swelling. In pain, Derby-Lewis went to the prison doctor who prescribed antibiotics and painkillers.

He went for medical treatment again last Monday, when the doctor ordered X-rays and blood samples be taken.

“That instruction was not executed. Nothing happened,” said Coertze.

When Derby-Lewis’s wife, Gaye Derby-Lewis, saw him during visiting hours on Sunday – nearly a week after his second medical examination – his leg was twice its normal size and was blackening. The skin was bluish and purplish and hard to the touch, Coertze said.

“She was quite concerned about the leg injury.”

An urgent interdict was sought in the High Court in Pretoria, which ordered yesterday that Derby-Lewis be taken to a private hospital for treatment.

The Freedom Front Plus today questioned why it was necessary to obtain a court order and claimed “double standards” were being applied.

Coertze said it was only as a result of the leg injury that doctors found out Derby-Lewis was also suffering from skin cancer and high blood pressure.

Dried blood found in Derby-Lewis’s hair turned out to be from skin cancer. He was bleeding from both temples and it seemed he had been for a couple of weeks, perhaps “even longer”.

“We are concerned that the prison staff hasn’t picked up on it a lot sooner,” Coertze said.

Correctional services departmental and ministerial spokespeople were not available to comment this afternoon.

Derby-Lewis is serving a life term in Pretoria Central Prison for the murder of SA Communist Party general secretary Chris Hani on April 10 1993.

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