Kgalema Motlanthe ‘tortured’ by question of Hani killer’s release

2013-12-15 06:00

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says he is “tortured” by the question of whether or not Clive Derby-Lewis, found guilty of the murder of Chris Hani, should be released from prison.

“I think it’s one of those issues that confronts our very commitment to being a caring society, a society which is not driven by the urge to revenge, I’m really just throwing this to you to ponder.

“It’s a test of how far we’ve come in consolidating our human rights culture.”

Motlanthe was speaking at an event at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton, Joburg, yesterday.

He said that South Africa had to be able to discuss and grapple with the issue of Derby-Lewis’ release because “justice cannot be selective”.

“Justice has to be consistent even when it happens to people we regard as adversaries, it should still be consistent,” said Motlanthe.

The deputy president referred to Helen Suzman’s intervention in the case of struggle stalwart Bram Fischer, which caused BJ Vorster to release the terminally-ill Fischer from prison into the care of his family.

“He [Derby-Lewis] is also ill. Regardless of how many times he has applied for release our stock answer is ‘no’, our people are not ready for that.”

Motlanthe said that if Derby-Lewis died in detention it would likely make him a martyr for a certain section of the South African population.

Motlanthe said that he had no answer as to whether Derby-Lewis should be released, but that the question “tortured” him from time to time.

Also present at the talk was Ilse Wilson, Bram Fischer’s daughter, who said South Africa now needed to defend its revolution from a historic evolution whereby freedom fighters became the oppressors.

“My father Bram grew up in the aftermath of the South African War, when his people [Afrikaners] had lost their struggle against colonialism.

“And his family would have called themselves nationalists at the time, but the nationalism was not conservative, it was a critique of British imperialism.”

Wilson said that her father had joined the communist party because he thought it was the only party that could fight for the equality of all.

“It saddened him to see how his people, who had fought for their own liberation, had become the oppressors.”

Wilson said the same phenomenon was evident in Palestine, “with the Zionists and their oppression of people”, and in the xenophobic attacks in this country.

“What we now need to do is guard our revolution against this,” she said.

Motlanthe regaled the crowd of South Africans at the centre with stories about the history of the struggle, which were warmly received by his audience.

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